Some years ago a friend living in Ontario sent me a book on mail-0rder homes in Canada, Catalog Houses, Eatons and Others, written by Les Henry, Professor Emeritus at the University of Saskatchewan. Last week a friend sent me a link to a Four-Part You Tube video based on the book entitled ” Catalog Houses“.
Canada’s pre-cut housing industry consisted of three principals. Halliday Homes and Canadian Aladdin Homes, both manufacturers of pre-cut homes, and Eaton’s, which issued mail-order catalogs, including Plan Books from which customers could purchase blueprints and building materials.
As Halliday and Aladdin were based in Hamilton, Ontario I took a quick weekend road trip over the Detroit-Windsor Bridge with my best friend Ken Wheeler to see what mail-order homes we could find.
Following Highway 3 along the north coast of Lake Erie the first mail-order house we found was an Aladdin Lockwood, which was marketed as the Aladdin Brentwood in the United States.
The Canadian Aladdin Company was established in 1914 to avoid violation of America’s neutrality in World War One. Aladdin had offices in Toronto and mills scattered throughout Canada until the 1950’s. Although Aladdin published a Canadian catalog most of the models were identical to those offered in their America catalog.
Continuing along Highway 3 we had to turn around to photograph a circa 1925 Halliday Hamilton we had passed near Cedar Springs ( 15 miles southwest of Chatham-Kent).
Halliday was the largest general merchandise catalog company in Canada and evidence suggests it was the largest manufacturer of pre-cut homes in Canada. Halliday issued its first catalog of pre-cut homes in 1919, expecting a surge in residential construction as soldiers returned home from World War One and immigrants settled into central and western Canada.
We stayed overnight in Hamilton and spent the next day at the Public Library, looking through their collection of Halliday and Canadian Aladdin catalogs. We drove around Hamilton visiting historic sites but did not find any mail-order homes, so we headed northwest on Highway 8 to Cambridge. No sooner had we passed the city limits sign when a circa 1920 Aladdin Victoria greeted us.
The Aladdin Victoria was only offered in Canada but appears to have been a popular model as I have found others in Ste. Saint Marie, Ontario. We also found a circa 1924 Aladdin Eton, which was the Canadian version of the America Pomona, a popular bungalow.
We had a nice lunch in Stratford before heading northwest where we found a circa 1922 Halliday Kenilworth in the small town of Dublin.
Heading back home we took Highway 21 on the east coast of Lake Huron, stopping to photograph another Halliday Kenilworth at Beach O’ Pines, a resort community approximately 30 miles northwest of Sarnia.
Sadly we didn’t have time to devote to larger cities such as Cambridge and Stratford, but there are obviously alot of Halliday and Canadian Aladdin Homes yet to be found.
We didn’t find any Eaton Homes on your trip, but their out there.
Dale Wolicki is coauthor of the Wardway Homes field guide with his friend Rose Thorton. He blogs once in a while with technical and photographic assistance of Kenneth J. Wheeler.