Many people consider Victorian as a style, but this is not correct From 1835 and 1900 there were many styles of home built and 'Victorian' architecture encompasses them all. Utilizing many different features it is hard to pinpoint a specific style, although each home will have a few details in common with each other. With diverse features from Classical and Gothic, these homes can be build using brick, stone and timber.

The most prominent style of Victorian structure anywhere in Ontario was the home. All types of home, from the urban town residence to the large country farm have been touched by this distinctive style and solid craftsmanship. Making a home look fantastic with artistic swirls, patterns and an eye for detail is what the Victorian house builder did effectively. These decorations were not necessarily appreciated by everyone, with some Europeans feeling that the designs were over the top and cluttered. With such a mix of designs and styles these properties could have looked out of place and tawdry, though surprisingly the end result actually worked.

The Cabbagetown Victorian Homes are born

Unlike in today’s subdivisions where many homes are built by the same builder in not-too-subtle variations on the same idea, the builders of what was Toronto’s first suburb were a very eclectic and imaginative bunch. To start with, property planners needed land and that was found north of Queen and west of Parliament, where land had been cleared in the 1830's for farming. Called park lots, these empty areas of land became the homes of important York (now called Toronto) officials.

In Cabbagetown the first types of Toronto Victorian homes were farm houses as well as some cottages. The first building lots were sold in 1845 along Sherbourne Street, with the land being split into a grid arrangement of streets by city surveyor John Howard. Buyers in most cases purchased narrow building lots that were between 15 and 20 feet wide, which made attached or row homes the most practical housing type. But a more flamboyant early Victorian specimen is Allandale, the property at 241 Sherbourne Street. Enoch Turner, brewer and philanthropist, had the home built in 1848 and it boasts a generous rustic front porch, decorative two-toned brick work with a lovely ornate trim; this property is far wider than other properties on the street. This residence is not the only example of early Victorian construction in the area; 424 Ontario Street with it's gingerbread trim threatening to dominate the delicacy of the design, is certainly worth having a look at.