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home naming tradition

August 12

I’ve travelled to England many times, and I find many things about the country enchanting including the custom of naming homes. This practice began hundreds of years ago, with the gentry naming their halls, castles, and manor homes, spreading gradually to the dwellings of the commoners. In the beginning home names were derived from the resident or some other person tied to the property, and in time many homes were named in recognition of a distinguishing feature of the property, or from influence in local history, literature, nature, and lore.

In 1765, British Parliament enacted that all new properties must also have a number and street name in addition to the house name.

I wondered if I could find any named homes in Toronto, for although many British influences are readily recognized in our domicile architecture, it seems to be a custom that never really set in. I did, however, find a few examples , including a couple of  with some provenance.

‘Tooraweenah’ (above), meaning ‘a collection of huts’, is a 1930s home in the Baby Point area of Toronto’s west end named from the original owner’s fascination with the name of this Australian town.

Another home, in the Beach neighbourhood of Toronto, is named ‘White Oaks’ (above), reportedly not only for the many oak trees that grace the lawn but also from a comment from a child staying at the home in the 1940s who noted that house looked just like the big, old, red-brick house as described the Canadian novel Whiteoaks of Jalna.

The same street is also graced by a few other named homes including  ‘Pine Crest’ and ‘Maple Grove’.

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