House styles in Vancouver range from the traditional, such as the settler cottages of its early urban development, to the more modern forms of the Vancouver Special or Millennium Builder. Many homes bridge architectural styles, bringing together features from multiple styles in ways that can make them difficult to identify. This contributes to the unique architectural heritage one finds in the city today. Each house style is linked to the cultural context in which it was built, reflecting not only the materials and popular designs of the time but also glimpses of things like personal history and social status.
- There are many housing styles that are underrepresented or absent in Vancouver, either because they were eliminated by earlier phases of reconstruction, were popular in periods before Vancouver’s Euro-Canadian settlement, or simply never gained popularity in the region. Many buildings from the early phases of settlement in the Vancouver region burned during the Great Fire of 1886, meaning most of the city postdates this event.
- In contrast, most First Nations architecture disappeared in the process of colonization, leaving few traces of Vancouver’s pre-colonial homes. No original Coast Salish longhouses built by members of local host nations remain, although recent buildings have been based on this historical form. Representation of these once numerous house forms have been included in the webtool to reflect their influence and returning visibility.
- Building also slowed during the Great Depression, when materials were scarce, which continued through World War II. Few homes were built during this period, until the end of the war in 1945. Today, wartime housing is limited in Vancouver, small and quickly built, so that many of these homes have been demolished to make way for larger, more modern buildings. However, many homes have survived the years to contribute to the city that we see today.