Mail order houses: History lesson about catalogue homes in Saskatchewan

On Thursday Heritage Regina and Civic Museum of Regina will host a program about catalogue homes at the Artesian on 13th Avenue in Regina.

Residents ordered the home designs from a magazine and built it themselves

The Windsor style home was offered by The Aladdin Company. (Shauna Powers/CBC News)

About 100 years ago many Saskatchewan residents jumped on the latest fad: Order a house from a catalogue and build it with your own two hands.

Heritage Regina and Civic Museum of Regina will host an informational program about catalogue homes at the Artesian on 13th Avenue in Regina on Thursday.

"I want them to feel like it's 1918 and they're getting around to picking their first house," said John Robinson, program presenter and architectural engineering technologist with Robinson Residential Design.

A lengthy history

"It was a way to ship everything they needed and all they had to do was figure out was how to put it together," he said, explaining the pieces would arrive by train.
The kits were shipped by rail typically, and included everything a person needed to build their own home. (Shauna Powers / CBC News)

Robinson grew up in a mail-order Aladdin Company home built in 1927. He admits his love of architecture stemmed from the cookie-cutter type homes.

Aladdin ceased business in 1987, but other competitors included Sears and Eatons.

"These companies didn't really have salespeople, their catalogue was basically the only salesperson," he said, estimating the cost of a home was around $600-800 and sometimes didn't come with a bathroom.

Today, he said there are still a few catalogue homes around Regina.

"If you have a kit house you can probably identify it by the casing on the inside of the windows," he said. "They had very detailed windows and door casings."

On Thursday evening he'll cover dozens of catalogue home plans for anyone who wants to learn more about the history.

Clarifications

  • A previous headline of this story stated the history lesson was offered by an architect. In fact, it is offered by an architectural engineering technologist.
    Jan 15, 2018 1:35 PM CT

With files from CBC Radio's Sask Weekend