Canada is forests, great lakes, rocky mountain, prairies, Atlantic and Pacific coasts. It’s big cities, remote communities and sprawling suburbs. It’s the Inuit and Métis; the Algonkin, Cree, Iroquois, Okanagon, Squawmish, Haida, Micmac and some 600 more First Nations first. Then everyone else second.
Canada is also the place I call home. My parents came separately from Trinidad and found each other in Montreal. Like many immigrants, they bet on Canada for better opportunities.
Our home in the West-Island suburbs of Montreal was a mid-century modern raised bungalow with hardwood floors in the living room, dining room, hallway and three bedrooms; a pinwheel ceramic tile pattern in the bathroom and green and white checkered linoleum tiles in the kitchen. Pretty standard for homes in the 70s.
Also standard were the assortment of mid-century modern furniture mixed in with an increasing amount of fussier, mass-produced “brown furniture”.
As my mom redecorated the upstairs with matching Eaton’s or Sears furniture suites, the old furniture got relegated to the wood paneled and lime green wall-to-wall carpeted basement. My parents were of the generation and culture that threw away little. Even the pieces of furniture that were left behind by vacating tenants from my dad’s income properties made it to the subterranean spot.
You couldn’t really call the basement eclectic because eclecticism requires some sort of plan. It was, however, a mash-up of different styles. It was where my brother and I made a home within a home, where we played, read, schemed and fought. For my parents, it was primarily a repository of cast-off things and a thruway to the laundry room and garage. It didn’t draw special attention. That is, except for the occasional holiday or anniversary party.
As Canada celebrates a big birthday, I think of my childhood home’s basement as a picture of what the Canadiana style looks and feels like. It’s not just the rustic pieces, flannel prints and antlers. It’s an amalgamation of styles that reside side by side, pieces at peace. It’s a refuge. Cozy in the winter, a cool respite from the heat of the summer. It’s a style that quietly exists and steadily evolves.
Oh, and it’s also a great place to throw a big party. Happy Birthday Canada, our home on native land. We’re gloriously free with a solid foundation on which to reconcile with our past and rise together, stronger. That is at heart our Canadiana way—not all-out fancy, but a style that is classically inspiring and timelessly worldly.
How do you define”Canadiana style”?
1. “Oh Canada” banner by Best Day Ever Banners, $27 CAD, oneofakindonlineshop.com; 2. “Untitled”, oil on canvas by Toronto based artist, Oreka James, orekajames.format.com; 3. Canadian Vintage Nubuck Leather Sofa from Québec 69, from Pamono.ca; 4. Rug by Vancouver artist, Alano Edzerza for Jordans.ca; 5. Vintage ceramic lamp, $90, Craigslist; 6. Tree trunk coffee table, from Furnitoys.com; 7. “Joe”, MCM tube chair by Hollis Newton; 8. Inuit Soapstone carving, $550 CAD, Craigslist; 9. Medium Seagrass Belly basket, $45 CAD from babasouk.ca; 10. Vintage Teak Dresser Credenza $450 CAD, Craigslist; 11. Hand painted, Beni Ouarain inspired Boho pillow by Taisa Silecky, $115 CAD, Etsy.