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The Archvilla
c.1968 to c.1982

This style is characterized by a dominant rounded Roman arch motif repeated across the façade.  These brick structures are often 1 to 1 ½ stories in height.


A Special Note

The goal of this website is to provide a starting point from which to understand Vaughan’s architectural heritage.  As such, our intention is to introduce topics, inspire curiosity, and then direct users towards other, more detailed sources of information.  However, in the case of this topic, the “Archvilla,” the only other available online sources are a few academic papers with restricted access so it is our hope that this web page with shed some light on a relatively under appreciated and misunderstood style.


The Archvilla is a style of architecture specific to the Italian immigrant populations throughout Canada and other countries that saw a major influx of Italians in the mid-twentieth century.  Although this type of architecture can be found around the world from South America to Australia, the style is most predominant in the Greater Toronto Area since it is home to the greatest concentration of people of Italian descent outside of Italy (Harney, p.27).

Italian House on North Ridge Lane Woodbridge

House on North Ridge Lane, c.1975.

(source image courtesy of Google Streetview)

Brisbane House 2 (image courtesy of Goog
Brisbane House 1.jpg

Houses on Park Road, in the community of Woolloongabba in Brisbane, Australia. c.1980. 

(source images courtesy of Google Streetview)

Up until the early 1960s the local Italian population was concentrated in the Toronto neighborhoods adjacent to College Street and St. Clair Avenue West.  Large segments of that group eventually moved north to neighborhoods like Woodbridge as they achieved greater “economic and residential mobility” (Harney, p.28).  For this ethnic group, the significance of home ownership had its roots in traditional folk culture (Del Giudice, p.55) and was a “prime incentive for starting a new life” in Canada (Del Giudice, p.56).  The Italians eventual move to the suburbs was necessitated by a cultural ideal to build a new house, “built from the bottom up” (Del Giudice, p.57). 

Houses on North Ridge Road (courtesy of

Houses on North Ridge Rd., in the community of Woodbridge in Vaughan, Canada. c.1975. 

(source image courtesy of Google Streetview)

Beginning in the late 1960s, as Italian immigrants began their own building projects, the rounded Roman arch became an essential design feature and expression of their ethnic identity (Del Giudice, p.53).  Indeed, the form of the arch was “a powerful cultural icon which harkens back to ancient Rome” and its famous Colosseum (Del Giudice, p.54) as well as the refined 16th century villas designed by Andrea Palladio (Faggion and Furlan, p.128).  The use of arches, rhythmically repeated across a façade in such a bold fashion was a way for that generation to challenge Anglo-Canadian architectural traditions and assert an Italian ethnic and intellectual presence (Harney, p.30).

The Colosseum

in Rome, Italy. 

Completed 80 AD.

(Photo by Roger Smith).

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy.  Completed
Villa Barbaro in Treviso, Italy. Designe

Villa Barbaro in Treviso, Italy.  Designed by Andrea Palladio c.1560. (Photo by iJuliAn).

By the early 1980s the Archvilla as a style started to decline.  Architectural controls began to be put into place in suburban communities outside of Vaughan to eliminate “ethnic” architectural expressions and re-assert previously established Anglo-Victorian forms and styles (Del Giudice, p.69).


Del Giudice, L. (1993). ‘The “Archvilla:” an Italian Canadian Architectural Archetype,’ in Studies in Italian American Folklore, ed. L. Del Giudice, Utah Press, Logan, UT, pp. 53–105.

Furlan, R, Faggion, L (2017) Cultural meanings embedded in the façade of Italian migrants’ houses in Brisbane, Australia. International Journal of Architectural Research: Archnet-Ijar 11: 119–137.

The Archvilla style
is found throughout Vaughan


2220 Highway 7.jpg

Commercial building on Highway 7, c.1970


Italian Colonial on Islington in Kleinbu

Commercial/residential building on Islington Avenue built c.1977


Italian Colonial on Keele Street.jpg

1960s house on Keele Street with an Archvilla porch added later. 


House on Dufferin Street.jpg

House on Dufferin Street


2 story Archvilla on North Ridge Road.jpg

Two- story Archvilla on North Ridge Road, c.1975

(source image courtesy of Google Streetview)

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