Why is Bramalea Divided into Letter Sections?

Whether or not you live in Bramalea, if you're from Brampton you've probably noticed that Bramalea has pockets where all of the streets begin with the same letter.

Manitou Crescent and Mansion Street are part of the M-Section, Hanover Road and Howden Boulevard reside in the H-Section (as seen in our cover photo!), and Avondale Boulevard and Anne Court are in the A-Section.

In most of the sections, all of the street names begin with the same letter.

There are no other neighbourhoods in Brampton or even Ontario that follow this letter section pattern, and the closest city to us that follows this layout is a city just south of Montreal, according to Architectural Historian Saul Svirplys.

Svirplys is something of a Bramalea expert. He did his Masters thesis on Bramalea and Brampton, and according to his blog that's entirely devoted to the landscape of Bramalea, bramaleablog, he has over 35,000 builder’s floor plans, and hundreds of articles from periodicals on the area.

Canada's first suburban satellite city, Bramalea has come a long way since its 1958 master plan.

"It's kind of funny because the master plan set out different neighbourhoods, but they didn't give them the letter sections," Svirplys told inbrampton.com. "I'm not sure who decided to differentiate them with letters."

So, why is Bramalea divided into letter sections?

According to Svirplys, each section was built at a different time, designed to center around either a school or a shopping centre. The sections were developed with smaller neighbourhoods in mind in the context of a larger suburban area.

The letter section system incorporates letters A through P, excluding I and O.

Svirplys drew the sections on a map to show how the letter sections are divided.

Photo courtesy of Saul Svirplys

"The A-to-F sections all pretty much follow the original design intent where each neighbourhood has at least one school located adjacent to parkland and greenbelts," said Svirplys.

There are a few exceptions to the system, such as the M-Section where a few streets don't begin with the letter M, the L-Section where a few streets begin with H, and a section to the west of Bramalea City Centre that doesn't follow the letter section system at all - the section without a letter.

"Within this grid, more than one letter section form a larger neighbourhood often serviced by a recreation centre and neighbourhood shopping centres, as a larger population is needed to sustain them," said Svirplys.

Two examples of these combinations are the A, B, C and K area, and the D, E and F area.

"Built later, most of the letter sections north of Queen Street are larger, such as the G, L, M and N sections," noted Svirplys. "The P-Section is the only neighbourhood to not have a school in its boundaries."

Further, density is a factor in how Bramalea is organized.

"Generally-speaking, the letter sections closest to 'downtown Bramalea' near the Bramalea City Centre are the densest," said Svirplys.

The K-Section is the most dense out of the letter sections, and it only has rental apartments and condo units. There are no single-family houses in the K-Section.

The section without a letter is also dense, with towers on Lisa Street and townhouses and some detached houses on narrow lots.

Not only are the sections differentiated by letters, but many sections are unique from one another in other aspects.

"The zero lot-line houses in the H-Section are also high-density as they were built on small lot sizes," said Svirplys.

These zero lot-line houses have smaller lot sizes than in any other section, as well as other unique features. Some of the houses, for instance, are placed on oblique angles to the road (some of which can be seen at birds-eye in our cover photo!) and many have asymmetrical roofs and uneven window placement, according to bramaleablog.

So, ultimately, Bramalea has letter sections for better organization of the entire community, with smaller developments connecting the larger concept of Bramalea!

What do you think about the letter sections in Bramalea?

Cover photo courtesy of Google Maps

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