From gingerbread cottages to glorious government buildings, Gothic Revival spans our entire country, making it a truly patriotic style.
A Brief History
- Famous buildings and areas include Ottawa’s Parliament buildings, Toronto’s Casa Loma and Distillery District, Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica and the Banff Springs Hotel.
- Gothic Revival lasted longer in Canada than the US and England and was embraced as a signature national style because of its influence on many of our respected historical buildings.
- Many of Canada’s universities embraced what is known as the ‘Collegiate Gothic’ style, including Trinity College and Hart House at the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and University of Saskatchewan.
- Alternative branches of Gothic Revival in Canada include Carpenter Gothic, Jigsaw Gothic, High Victorian Gothic and Railway Gothic.
What to Look For
- Perfect Pitch: Look for steeply pitched roofs and spires (the tall, pointy structure often seen on churches) and classic gingerbread wood trim or vergeboarding. You may also find decorative finials (on the peak of a roof), crockets (curling leaf ornament) and quatrefoils (four-leaf clover shapes.
- Chimneys: Look for a pair of rectangular chimneys with a bit of extra edging at the top making them look like tall, narrow-topped mushrooms.
- Decorative Door: Expect the door to have elaborate panels. It may be under a recessed porch. Think small, old-fashioned, church-style entranceway.
- On the Side: For houses, keep an eye out for vertical board or batten siding and mini-porches above extended windows. You can also see masonry versions of homes that include patterned brick and Gothic arches.
- Tall Structure: The narrow shapes and looming look help to give the buildings an impression of height, whether they are skinny or wide in structure. You’ll see strong vertical lines and pointed arches. While seemingly symmetrical on the façade, they are often more complex and asymmetrical. In grander buildings, there will be towers and turrets that accent the structure.
- Pointed-Arch Windows: These ‘bullet-shaped’ windows can have leaded glass with hood molds over them. You may see extended oriel windows (like bay windows) or quatrefoil windows.
- Materials: While the materials vary (often because of the actual size/function of the building), you’ll find patterned stone (especially in the larger buildings) and wood or patterned brick (in houses).
Filled with Canadian history, Gothic Revival definitely represents the true north strong and free.