Thursday Lingering Look at Windowboxes

Many of the old buildings and houses in Quebec have window boxes which always adds charm to the appearance. The  yellow shuttered windows caught my eye straight away with the bright flowers. 

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The windows up on the second story with the peaks are typical of Quebec houses.  Insetting the windows into the roof in this fashion, took less materials than if a full floor had been built. The houses were taxed differently too.  

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The tiny panes of glass were also typical of the past.  One  small pane was easier to replace if  broken. It was less work, less time, less materials, therefore cheaper for the glass blower to make. And of course, there was less chance of breakage on the way to its new owner. A small piece of glass is actually quite strong.


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This building was just around the corner from the first. The clean colours and bright flowers made this residence very attractive. All the buildings in this block were about 250 years old. 

More interesting info

There is one more piece of fascinating information that I can add to this that most people don’t know about unless you live in Quebec and even then it has probably been forgotten. 

Did you notice that the last photo shows the stairway running up the side of the building?

Quebec was originally under French rule so France dictated the laws in Quebec.  If you as an owner of a structure built a staircase on the inside then you would be taxed for it. Single dwellings had them on the inside mostly, but buildings where each floor was rented out as apartments, no.

To avoid paying that tax, stairways were built onto the outside of the building. (The house my father and my cousins grew up in had the stairs outside both back and front of the house.  One of my early residences had the stairs outside only on the backside).

If you have ever been in downtown Montreal, you will see this on most of the old residential structures.

And… I can tell you that it is darn cold walking up those stairs to the upper floors in the dead of the winter when the winds are blowing and the stairs are icy.

To see more blogs, click on Thursday Lingering Look at Windows

Thanks for visiting……..





6 thoughts on “Thursday Lingering Look at Windowboxes

  1. Cool, these structures have always fascinated me. They are perfect photo subjects!

    So that’s why they have stairways outside, I always thought they were built for for fire emergencies. .

    • Essentially they are are for fire because you need two exits to a floor but taxes are why they were put on the outside at least in Quebec. In the early days, some back stairs had a simple wood structure built around the stairs. That made it less dangerous and warmer too. (if you can picture a very tall 3 sided box stuck up against the house from top to bottom with a stairway running down the inside). Most stairways were like the one you see in the photo and others spiralled down. I remember running up and down them as a kid. These wood structures also had tiny cutout windows – no glass,for light. I think these boxes weren’t taxed because they were rough and just add ons. I am not sure about that though. I know my grandmother and aunt both had one at the back of their places. We called them sheds. Not what we call a shed these days. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Not bad. Lot’s of stuff missing, but hey, you don’t live here :). I’m hnositg the Express for two events on Friday, both events have created a good buzz. I’ll post some stuff afterwards…

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