Sunday, January 16, 2011

Renovation of a modern Gothic home

Home-builders in Victorian Toronto had very specific ideas about the way people should live their lives.
Dad was supposed to go out to work. Mom stayed home, tending to domestic chores and the needs of her preschoolers. The usual layout of the Victorian house reflects this division of labour. One rarely finds, for example, any provision for live-in servants or nannies in Toronto’s ordinary houses from this period. (The mansions of Rosedale are another matter.) Nor is there an equivalent of the modern family room or home office.
Family socializing in the pre-radio age was a starchy affair that occurred around the hearth in the parlour and in the dining room, both rooms clearly segregated from each other, and from the kitchen. Parlour and dining room were schools of propriety and respect for hierarchy (God, Queen, Empire and Dad). The dark little kitchen at the rear of the house, on the other hand, was the mother’s workshop of meal production – a place of gendered toil, that is, not really suitable (and hardly big enough) for family gatherings.

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