A History of Domestic Space
192 pages, 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
Release Date:01 Jul 2009
Release Date:01 Oct 1999
Release Date:01 Nov 2007

A History of Domestic Space

Privacy and the Canadian Home

UBC Press

This is a history of domestic space in Canada. Peter Ward looks at how spaces in the Canadian home have changed over the last three centuries, and how family and social relationships have shaped – and been shaped by – these changing spaces. A fundamental element of daily life for individuals and families is domestic privacy, that of individuals and that of the family or household.

There are also two facets of privacy – privacy from and privacy to. Personal privacy sets the individual apart from the group, creating opportunities for seclusion. Family privacy draws boundaries between the household and the community, defending the solidarity of the home and providing a basis for family relationships. In both ways, privacy is intimately involved with the history of the house.

Over time, the changing size, shape, and location of the home have created widely different opportunities for family and personal privacy. Together with major shifts in household composition, family size, and domestic technology, they have gradually altered the conditions of everyday domestic life.

But the pattern of change has been far from uniform, for the nature, meaning, and experience of privacy in Canadian have varied widely over the past 300 years. This book explores some of those experiences and meanings, reflecting on their impllications for family and social life historically as well as in the recent past.


  • 1999, Winner - Alcuin Citation for excellence in book design in Canada, Alcuin Society
... packed with wonderful historic details about real Canadian homes and families ... both of these books provide fascinating nuggets of information ... about topics that have been obscured by our myth-making American neighbour. And they bring to life the unique texture of daily Canadian life that was buried in our mothers’, fathers’, and grandparents’ journals, letters, pictures and stories. Frances Bula, The Vancouver Sun
Throughout, in direct, simple prose, Ward offers stimulating observations on and excellent documentation of the domestic landscape. The photographs and other illustrations are, likewise, highly informative ... highly recommended for all architecture, interior design, and material culture collections. Paul Glassman, New York School of Interior Design Library, Library Journal
... readers will enjoy this humanized view of Canadian architecture. Ward’s book is a welcome complement to the recently published Homeplace by Peter Ennals and Deryck Holdsworth. Laurie Stanley-Blackwell, CBRA 2239
Peter Ward teaches in the Department of History at the University of British Columbia.

1: Housing and Privacy

2: Interiors

Little House, Big House

The Question of Crowding

The Organization of Household Space

Domestic Technology and Interior Spaces

The Bathroom

The Parlour

The Kitchen

The Bedroom

The Apartment

3: The House in Its Setting

The Farmhouse

The Villa

The Home in City and Suburb

The Front of the House

Porches, Verandahs, Patios, Decks Gardens and Yards

4: Privacy and the Canadian Home


Suggested Reading

Illustration Credits


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