Friday, November 27, 2009

Company Houses

I am pretty sure if you asked any person from Cape Breton about a company house, they would tell you who they know who lives in one, or used to live in one. Its not the real name for the style of house, its what they have been called for the past 60-70 years. So, what are they... what's so special about them.
Well, company houses are these duplex type houses built in the 1940's by the Coal Mines and the Steel Company. I am assuming they were to rent out to the workers of the mines and steel plant. In Sydney, there is a whole row of them on Victoria Road, and also some on Park street. In Glace Bay, Mechanic Street had a bunch as well. My Aunt Jeanette lived there. The ones on Victoria Rd are the ones I remember driving by since I was a young teen. My kids grew up driving by them.. but at this point, they had stopped being rentals. When the Steel plant shut down in the early 80's ( I think), the houses were sold to local families and these families started to fix them up to look a little more modern.
The phenomenon that happened after this was that the houses began to take on a look of their own.... sadly, the families who lived on each side of the duplex, didn't often agree on "upgrading choices".






When this first happened, it was a kaleidoscope of colors, most houses being painted different on each side. It became a bright point in a dreary drive home, and my kids loved trying to find as many "differences" as possible as we drove by each one. You know, Sesame Streets' "One of these things is NOT like the other"





..... When I wanted to write this blog (there is a point to it, by the way, its coming), I asked my friend Lori (who still has family in Sydney) if she could find a friend or relative to snap a few pics of the Company Houses, in all their oddity. She didn't waste a second, and by the next day, she had made contact with a brother, who has a son in law or a nephew who works in the Pier, and he snapped pics and emailed. We had quite a giggle when they arrived in my machine, but I was surprised and a little disappointed in the fact that most of them are the same color now a days.

So, the point of this blog.....

On Terry's way back home from Ontario, he stopped in to see my sister and pick up her fantastic sewing machine to lend me for a little while. She also sent along a gift for me. My sister is a master quilter and makes a diverse collection of sewing projects, using new techniques she learns from others. She has a group of "Friday Girls" she has "coffee" with every friday. They share ideas, set challenges and little projects for themselves, raising the bar of quilting. One of their projects was a house trade. Gail described her project in this blog. Imagine my surprise when I opened my gift and it was this table runner. She named it "Company Houses".... can you see why?



I love my table runner. I love the smoke coming out of the chimneys, I love the window trimmings, the swirls along the border...The colors are rich, the size is perfect but most of all, it brings back fun little memories of our daily drive down Victoria Road.!

9 comments:

ancient one said...

What a great post!!!... I loved the pictures of the company houses..and loved the table runner..

aprilantipodal said...

I love it so much! One of my other memories of Cape Breton was looking at Grandma's quilts and spotting the different dresses and bonnets on the ladies....

GailM. said...

I'm so glad it fits your table. I made another one for myself but it's not done yet. I'll call it Company Houses II. The Friday Girls will love that you blogged about it.

Anonymous said...

I guess those Friday girls don't get EVERYTHING!!! What a beautiful gift from your sister that will take you and your family on a trip down memory lane every time you see it on your table.
Happy to see you blogging again - must mean that you are seeing the light at the end of your flu tunnel.
Debbie

Anonymous said...

THAT is one gorgeous table runner. Gail.. you are truly talented...Lucky Donna. Kelly

cpm said...

I loved looking at all the pictures of the company houses...some are WAY different, some of the upgrades are funny looking, some made me wonder why the other didn't move away to find new company lol!
The runner is gorgeous! I think the smoke coming out of the chimney's is so cool. SOO many awesome details and beautiful colours! Gail is so talented!

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love it. Can't wait to see it in person!

J.

Mick said...

I love it! I think the runner company houses are much more adorable than the real life ones!

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