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Transplanting Canada's Prince Edward Island to Japan

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 07 September 1999 00:00

Your dream can come true. If you loved Anne of Green Gables and other Anne Shirley stories by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, you may be thrilled to learn you can now live in your own Anne Home without having to move to Canada's smallest province, Prince Edward Island.

Atlantic Canada Home (ACHome), formed by an enterprising group of Atlantic manufacturers, holds a license to build Anne Homes around the world. The designs are based on the houses described in Montgomery's stories. ACHome combined the Japanese love of these timeless Canadian stories about the feisty, red-haired orphan with Canadian experience building in Japan to launch this arm of their international home-building business.

President Rob Oakie explains, "Early in the 90s, when the Japanese housing market was going crazy, there was a need for good quality at more competitive prices. They were building post and beam construction, which was slower, not as strong, not energy efficient and expensive."

Enter the Canadian wood frame home, developed in part by the federal housing agency, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This style of home building, known as "2 by 4" or "stick-built" construction, was designed to be faster to build, stronger, more energy efficient and more cost-effective than previous building methods. The design also allows great flexibility of interior layout and exterior finishing. (That imposing stone-block mega-home down the street and the cosy aluminum-sided Cape Cod on the corner couldn't look more different but, if they are less than 15 years old, they are probably both stick-built homes.)

"After the Kobe earthquake (in Japan), there were few homes left standing," said Oakie, explaining growing Japanese interest in stick-built housing. "The few Canadian homes there were all left standing."

The Canadian "Anne House" stands out amoung the typically plain, dark Japanese homes.
ACHomes has already sold materials for over 60 Japanese homes - not bad since Japan is still gripped by economic depression.

Japanese Anne Homes are usually 1400 to 1500 square feet in size and average CDN$80,000 to CDN$100,000 worth of Canadian building materials. Since buyers also have to purchase the land, which may cost up to CDN$250,000, as well as hire a local architect and pay construction costs, the final price tag may reach CDN$500,000 or more. However, Oakie describes the buyers as "very middle class" mostly professional, from nurses to teachers. They are strongly influenced by the wife. The relationship and the bond starts when young girls go through school and read Anne of Green Gables."

Oakie explained that ACHomes had expected to sell "packaged housing" in four models. "In fact, we sold one. The rest are all customized homes designed by architects in Japan and approved by us. This is probably a testament to the fact that you need to be there, to build."

How do Japanese Anne homes differ from their Canadian counterparts?

  • Main bathrooms must be on the ground floor with a separate room for the toilet. Instead of a shower stall, the whole room is used for showering;
  • Front entries need a small area for removing and storing shoes and then a step up into the house;
  • Every door must be an out-swing which has caused problems with the "Anne" screen doors. (Think about it)

Check out Anne, Atlantic Canada Home and Prince Edward Island Here

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