Modest Hopes - Dundurn

Modest Hopes

Homes and Stories of Toronto's Workers from the 1820s to the 1920s

Available Sep 14th 2021

$ 29.99


Celebrating Toronto’s built heritage of row houses, semis, and cottages and the people who lived in them.

Too often, workers’ cottages are characterized today as being small, cramped, poorly built, and disposable. But in the late 1800s, to have worked and saved enough money to move into one was an incredible achievement. Moving from the crowded conditions of boarding houses, or areas such as Toronto’s Ward or Ashport’s “shanty-town,” just east of the city, to a self-contained, six-hundred-square-foot row house was the result of an unimaginably strong hope for the future, a belief in it, and a commitment to what lay ahead.

For the workers and their families, these houses were far from modest. The architectural details of these cottages suggested status, value, and pride of place; they reminded the workers of where they had come from, with architectural roots from their homeland.

These “modest hopes” are an undervalued heritage resource and an important but forgotten part of the Toronto narrative about the people who lived in them and built our city.


Don Loucks

Don Loucks is an architect, urban designer, and cultural heritage planner, with forty years of project experience. He is committed to environmental, economic, and cultural sustainability, and to preserving the variety of rich urban forms that contain the stories of our communities’ history. He lives in Toronto.

Leslie Valpy

Leslie Valpy is a conservation practitioner, researcher, and writer, with a passion for built heritage, history, architecture, and conservation. Working with both intangible and tangible dimensions of heritage, she has participated in a range of projects throughout Ontario. She lives in Toronto.

Book Details

September 2021
7x8.5 in
282 pp