The Second Rise of Slate Roofing in Canada

Slate roofing enjoyed a second wave of popularity in Canada from 1906 to 1914, the result of one of the most vigorous periods of industrial growth in our history. As manufacturing concentrated in cities, the urban population of Canada increased from 29.8 percent in 1881 to 41.8 percent in 1911. The settling of the west and boom in railway construction further stimulated eastern secondary industry and urban growth. New municipalities sprang up on city peripheries, many of them later being annexed to the larger centres.

Building in the multiplying middle- and working-class neighborhoods exhibited a type of economic construction and a high degree of industrialization. Flat roofs which cut expenses in time and money became common but many architects still resorted to an 80 degree slate slope of four to six courses above the cornice to improve the design. In some planned industrial towns such as the present Montreal area of Maisonneuve, row houses were required to have stone facades and slate roofing shingles continued to be employed in roof replacement. Thus slate in this period was not just evident on institutional architecture and wealthier houses, but also in the common domestic buildings the row houses and duplexes that lined the expanding working-class sections of Canada’s urban centres.

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