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There's No Place Like Home

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There's No Place Like Home

Dryden from above. Photo: Dryden & District Museum

Showcasing Dryden's Architectural Evolution

Take a look back at Dryden's history and architecture with the Dryden & District Museum fantastic exhibit "There's No Place Like Home."



Inspired by all the time we've been spending at home during the spring and summer months of 2020, the Dryden & District Museum has a new exhibit–all about architecture and how we live. We thought it would be interesting to look at how as families and communities changed over time, so did the architecture of their homes.

The museum has over 2500 photographs in its permanent collection, including photographs of houses, streetscapes, and aerial pictures of Dryden, which span decades. These images allowed us the opportunity to explore how societal changes are reflected through architecture in a new exhibit There's No Place Like Home.

View of Dryden from the Dryden Paper Mill water tower circa 1920.

Log houses for the Early Settlers

When early settlers began farming in the area, they first needed to clear their land. They used the logs they cut to construct houses, schools, shops, and barns. Settlers built log houses of at least 16 feet x 20 feet, which were quick to build and could house a family temporarily while they established their farm. Once the farm was operational, a larger permanent home would be built to accommodate the growing family.

Photo from 1901/02 of William Silver Sr's Farm. House built in the Fall of 1897, 4 miles west of Dryden.

Queen Anne Revival style

Wealthy upper-middle-class families who built their home in town, rather than on a farm, could opt for a grander style of home. Queen Anne Revival style homes had large gardens, a spacious living room, and enough bedrooms for the family, guests, and servants. These homes, made of brick or stone, were meant to be enjoyed by both those who lived in them, and those who lived nearby.

Home of A.B. Orvis taken by Paul Aug. Hunter. Date unknown.

Victorian style

The most versatile architectural style of the late 1800s was the Victorian-style house. In Ontario, these homes could range from a large farmhouse to a small worker's cottage, or a townhouse in a growing urban center. These homes combined features of various architectural styles of the era, often combing Classical and Gothic motifs. Similar to how a Victorian dressmaker would add lace, puffs, strings of velvet, and crinolines to a dress, the Victorian homebuilder wanted "dress up" the home.

The McFadyen's home at 15 Van Horne Avenue was built in 1897. Photo was taken in 1908. Now home to the Dryden & District Museum.

Post-War Homes

Before the Second World War, many Canadians lived in large 19th century homes. These large households didn't just include the homeowners, but also servants, gardeners, maids, cooks, and nannies. This trend began to change in the 1940s as new jobs were created during the war. The Federal government wanted to provide housing for the men and women who worked in the defence-oriented industries and later to veterans returning from the war. This led to many post-war housing projects funded through The Veterans Land Act

These post-war homes were made of prefabricated components which were put together on-site. They were designed to be permanent, sturdy, comfortable, and large enough for a single family. 

Post-war housing projects were the first step toward the suburban movement and nuclear families of the 1950s.

Milestone Heights sub-division looking northwest from Colonization Avenue. Circa 1940s.

Mid-Century Modern homes

In the 1950s, the number of cars on the road grew, and house design needed to accommodate them. While earlier architectural styles were still popular, they were modified to add a garage located near the side of the house. Mid-Century Modern homes were often built with an attached carport, but the popular Ranch and Side-Split homes of the 1960s included an attached heated garage! These homes were popular with middle-income families and remain popular to this day. 

During the 1950s and 1960s, the idea of personal taste was on the rise. Homeowners could choose to embrace the historical style or a sleeker, more modern style. Mass-produced materials increased options available for home décor to help homeowners express their personalities. You can learn more about these homes and others in our exhibit There's No Place Like Home on now until November 20th.

Unknown home in Dryden, photo taken by Paul E. Lambert in July 1964.

Admission and Hours 

Please visit the Dryden & District's museum's website for museum hours as well as current safety guidelines for visitors. Visits by appointment and drop-in, Drop-in visitors allowed if they can accommodate you. Please call 807-223-4671 to schedule your visit today!

Current and Upcoming Exhibits

Exhibits at the Dryden & District Museum feature the Dryden area's local history. The upper level of the museum features permanent exhibits. The main floor has rotating exhibits that change about every three months. The museum also displays work by local artists and occasionally hosts artifacts from private collectors.

Also currently on display at the Dryden & District Museum until November 21is the exhibit The Mystery and the Marvel: White Otter Castle on loan from the Friends of White Otter Castle. This exhibit introduces visitors to James (Jimmy) McOuat, the builder of White Otter Castle. The exhibit also discusses the efforts taken by the Friends of White Otter Castle to preserve the Castle. 

The White Otter Castle built by Jimmy McOuat.

Future Exhibits and Events

December 4, 2020 to January 29, 2021

It's All Relative: Recent works by artists of The Dryden Artists Association.

Next Event - Date TBA

At The Movies – A look back at the theatres in Dryden and the evolution of film technology.

Next Event - Date TBA

Dryden & District Museum’s Advisory Board fundraiser Keep It Hanging Around - Pre-Owned Art Auction.

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