Between 1941 and 1947 a crown corporation called Wartime Housing Limited built thousands of houses across Canada for war workers, veterans and their families. These homes, referred to as Wartime Houses, became some of Canada’s first suburban communities.
Wartime Houses are iconic architectural forms — a rectangle with a triangle on top. They were part of a nationwide government initiative to provide affordable rental homes to working class people. Radiating around communal green spaces and public buildings, these homes were a departure from the typical grid structures of city streets and economic models that focused on private home ownership and development.
There are three Wartime Housing sites in Toronto, including the neighbourhood where I grew up. These homes are now privately owned, and many have been transformed through additions and demolitions as the city of Toronto has rapidly gentrified. This has made me question: does private home ownership and development result in a more livable city? Is a bigger house a better house? And what part should government play in suburban planning and building conservation?
A Reasonable Assurance of Permanency features my research and drawings of Wartime Houses. By compressing and deconstructing decades of social change through depictions of structural change, I hope to encourage viewers to reflect on the relationship between domestic space, suburbia and the city, and to consider their varied and evolving notions of ‘home’.
Meaghan Hyckie is represented by Olga Korper Gallery. A recent resident at the Banff Centre, her work is part of collections throughout Canada, the USA and the UK. She is the recipient of several awards including grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council, support she gratefully acknowledges.