The Armour Heights Neighbourhood

The First Houses (see the picture gallery) ||Jump to Suzanne Heilingbrunner's Story

Before the Second World War, the Armour Heights area was on the outskirts of the city. As was happening all over Peterborough, thousands of the houses were being built or purchased by soldiers and their families soon after their return from the War. The government helped somewhat by providing mortgage loans.

The family pictured below, purchased a partly assembled home, called a "Halliday Home" which arrived by truck in front of 254 Caddy Street in Spring, 1947. This particular model was called "The Bevin". Eight foot sections of 2 by 4 wall had already been assembled at the factory in Hamilton, with the doors and windows installed. These flat sections of wall were then bolted together. However, all of the digging, block laying, plumbing, roofing, wall boarding, flooring, and electrical work had to be carried out on site. The first back hoe in Peterborough was used to install the water and sewer system serving this house, the first one built on Caddy Street, east of the creek.

The plans, or blue prints, for this house described the requirements in detail. All of the needed lumber and other supplies, including nails and the kitchen sink, came with the order for the house. The home builders, Don and Betty Delong, moved to a larger house several blocks away, when their fourth child was about to be born. Betty and Don eventually moved back into a cozy Halliday Home at 685 Ross Street, after their children grew up.

Send in your stories about the development of the Armour Heights neighbourhood to Dan Delong.

They can be published right here.


Suzanne Dean ( Heilingbrunner) who now lives in Arizona and whose parents built this unique house with the wrap around balcony, very near Armour Heights , sent along her recollections of growing up in the neighbourhood.

Yes, that house "in contrast" was ours.   Mom and Dad immigrated to Peterborough in 1951, after their marriage.   They came from England and Germany respectively.   They bought the lot at 310 McFarlane St. the spring of 1952 and started building.   My dad had training with design and building.   (He was an engineer.)   So the "unique" house was a passive solar design, reminiscent of the chalets in Southern Germany .

They moved into this incompleted home in winter of '52 and finished the upstairs the next year.   Around 1960 they built an addition on the right side.    They sold it in 1979.   We loved living there.   There were huge picture windows in the front, so one could see the milk man drive up with his horse and wagon on Saturday mornings. (Unfortunately that ended before I remember.)  

After a fresh snow we delighted in watching the horse-drawn sidewalk plows.   We always wanted to run out and pet the horses.   Along came the popcorn man from time to time, pushing his handcart around the neighborhood.  

We had a gentle slope on the side of our yard for sliding when we were little, and huge trees to climb in the backyard.   The neighbourhood parents asked the City Recreation Department if they could develop the triangle of land between our house and Simmons St. into a park.   We called it the "Tot Lot".   There were swings, teeter-totters, a slide etc. there.   In winter the city flooded the sandbox area to make a skating rink.   Life was good!!  

We also used the school yard for all kinds of play.   Sliding on the hills in winter, riding our bikes on the concrete yard, using the baseball diamond on weekends.   It was great to live across from the school.   I remember walking past those big trees where the Ludgate House was, often daydreaming as I walked to school.   In those days we came home for lunch too. Armour Hill gave all kinds of adventure opportunities.   The big kids went sliding and skiing there in the winter.   Of course, they always went with the warning "Stay away from the road".  

In summer we'd take cardboard and slide down the slope on the grass.   There were thickets to explore, and games to play.   The canal was so much fun in the summer.   We swam in "Toby's bay". (The Toby family owned the last house on the street by the canal.)When boats would pass we'd ride the waves of their wake.   We took our little sailboat down there too. The big boys used to jump off the High Bridge .   We always had stern warnings against that.   That was not necessary - it looked far too scary to try.  

Then there was the Lift Locks, and Nicholls Oval, Barrett's store, and so much more.    The neighborhood seemed so huge and fascinating as a kid.   Now it seems so small.   But it was a wonderful place (and time) to grow up.   I've enjoyed your entries   on the website, and I've enjoyed recalling the fun times.

Suzanne ( Heilingbrunner) 



In a series of articles about the accomplishments of the various Peterborough mayors, this excerpt refers to the building of wartime houses, their deficiencies and their staying power.


A CRITICAL housing shortage; selection of a site for the new City Hall and Memorial Centre, and the building of the Civic Hospital were four major problems the city council had to face in the three years that William G. Ovens was mayor.

During the war 500 'wartime' houses had been built in four neighboring communities and 60 more were scattered throughout the city. When they were built, the plans called for removal after the war but their continuing use now, more than 20 years later, offers an interesting contrast with estimates that their life would be short.

When the houses on Burnham's Point were being constructed—the first group erected in the city — Ald. James Dutton remarked, in looking over the work along with other members of the council, 'of course, when the war is over, all these houses will be cleared away. They are just a temporary convenience for people on the move to munitions work.'

Had no cellars

 The houses had been designed for speedy construe-lion. They were minus cellars, foundations and other details which go into permanent homes.

All thoughts of levelling them were routed even before the war ended, and discussions were getting around to terms of sale and to making them permanent. The one exception was the block of 125 at the west end of Charlotte Street situated on what was then called, the Hatton property: the farm of the late George W. Hatton who was for many years the crown attorney.

There, the houses were put up for auction and had to be removed by the purchasers. The property was re-subdivided into 95 larger lots on which houses ranging in price today from $15,000 to $25,000 were built.

In May 1947 terms of sale were approved by Wartime Housing Limited, the Crown Corporation which owned the homes, and the city council.

Down payment

 A down payment of 15 per cent would be required and for the remainder of the purchase, a monthly payment at about the same rate as rent charged. For the first five years the transaction would be by agreement of sale, and after that, if the purchaser was still an occupant, he would receive a rebate of 17.5 per cent of the amount paid. He would then receive a deed and the sum remaining would be registered as a mortgage held by the crown corporation. In addition to monthly payments the government agency would collect from the tenants the annual municipal axes for the city's tax collector.

It was also provided that for any houses not sold, the city would continue to accept from the agency, $25 and $30 a year depending on the size of the house, in lieu of the municipal tax.

Bought and sold

The houses on Burnham's point were bought by the Peterborough Lumber Company, the owners of the land, and these were also changed into permanent dwellings and sold.

Making permanent the wartime houses did not begin to provide the housing accommodation for families requiring homes and the paramount concern of the council in 1946 was a harassing scarcity of homes.

Peterborough needed 1,340 additional dwellings and it was said that of these, 670 should rentable and 30 per cent the remaining should be apartments. By 1946, 2,500 men in the armed services had returned, many of them had married either before they went overseas or while overseas, and now they too wanted to set up homes of their own. An additional 1,000 men were expected to return that year. The city paid $11,000 for 20 acres of land on McKellar Street and here 100 more houses were built. Returned men were given the first opportunity to purchase. These and additional homes later built in the area required further annexations. The city's boundaries were continually changing and it required several more years of home building before there were enough houses to meet the demand.

Council, in February, 1946, bought 43.25 acres of land from Hugh Stewart for $19,-000 as the site for Civic Hospital. Plans went ahead for the building estimated 10 cost $1,338,000. However, with de-lays in working drawings, shortages of building materials and increases in building costs, it was estimated a year later that the hospital would cost $1,775,000. That estimate proved later to be far from the final cost. The contract was let to the Eastwood Construction Company and on November 25, 1948, Viscount Alexander of Tunis, the Governor-General, laid the cornerstone.

Selecting a site for the Memorial Centre turned out to be a more involved and controversial question. A general committee was set up in 1945 and several sites pro-posed. The council offered King Edward Park and other sites suggested were Morrow Park; James Stevenson Park and the block of land opposite George Street wharf.

©2004 Armour Heights Public School Reunion