On The “Early Vernacular” Vancouver House Style


Vancouver’s architecture is often difficult to distinguish as many of its homes are adaptations or amalgamations of more recognized styles. By cataloguing them, we gain an understanding of our homes and neighbourhoods, which gives us all a sense of pride in our city. With this is mind, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation provides Scout with an exclusive series that we call The Roof Over Your Head.



Early Vernacular homes – one of the pioneer styles in Vancouver housing – started as one storey houses with gabled roofs (pitched on two sides). They were often only one room deep and had a shallow front porch with several steps leading to the front door. In the late 1880’s, two storey houses with a full length pitched roof perpendicular to the street appeared with a bay window on the first and sometimes on the second floor above. In upscale versions a recessed balcony was seen over the front entry. Other upscale versions introduced a hipped roof, which slopes on all four sides. Many of these early homes were kit or pre-fab houses, mail-ordered through catalogue from companies such as Eaton’s and Sears, or built by BC Mills.

Early Vernacular homes can be most easily recognized by the details in windows and doors. Windows are double-hung with the upper half containing diamond-shaped leaded glass. Hall windows, front doors, and the middle pane in bay windows often had a single centre clear glass pane surrounded by a border of small square stained or textured glass panes. Front doors were paneled vertically with later versions introducing a large oval pane of glass or the more Victorian version of a single pane surrounded by a stained or textured glass border. The kit and pre-fab houses have a strong modular look with windows and door assemblies spanning the spaces between full height strips of vertical wood, called battens.

LOCATION | The Early Vernacular is most commonly found in Strathcona and Mount Pleasant.



Vancouver Heritage Foundation is a registered charity supporting the conservation of heritage buildings and structures in recognition of their contribution to the city’s economy, sustainability and culture. VHF supports Vancouver’s built history by offering educational tours, talks and lectures, courses, and special events. Launched early in 2013, the Vancouver House Styles Architectural Web Tool is a free online reference cataloguing Vancouver’s common architectural styles.

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