Under one roof: Take a look inside a Winnipeg multigenerational home

Nearly two decades ago, husband and wife Manpreet and Harpreet Khosa made the journey from their old home in India to their new one in Canada.

Six years later, Manpreet’s parents — Gurmeet and Balbir — packed their bags in Punjab and made the same trip.

Now, the four live under the same roof in Winnipeg’s northwest Amber Trails neighbourhood, along with Manpreet and Harpeet’s three kids: Anantjot, 16, Sahibjot, 9, and Samarth, 8.

Through a series of video diaries shot in May, CBC Manitoba got an inside look at life in the multigenerational home, where the family has lived since 2009 — from the role of grandparents to the importance of language.

WATCH | Scenes from the Khosas’ video diaries:

Harpreet and Manpreet Khosa have lived in Amber Trails with their three kids and Manpreet’s parents for about a decade. As part of CBC Manitoba’s On the Move community journalism project, here’s a glimpse at what a day in their life looks like. 1:00

For the Khosas, having grandparents around means parents Manpreet, 42, and Harpreet, 39, have a few extra hands to help out around the house.

Gurmeet, 66, and Balbir, 71, also took adult English classes and got their driver’s licences after they got to Canada — which means they can drive their grandkids around and run errands like getting groceries.

The family mostly speaks Punjabi at home, since it’s important to them not to let a language barrier grow between the generations.

And that communication comes in handy when the grandchildren need to explain technology or when the grandparents want to share their love of gardening.

New families, new building plans

One housing developer in Winnipeg said he’s seen a huge increase in families looking to build homes that can accommodate several generations in some of the city’s northwest neighbourhoods, like Amber Gates and Waterford Green.

Amrit Manak said those requests are usually from newcomer families — whose numbers have increased significantly in that part of the city in recent years, Statistics Canada says.

Developer Amrit Manak says most of the houses his company has built in northwest Winnipeg have had requests for features for multigenerational families, like a separate side entrance or a main floor bedroom and bathroom. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

The number of immigrants from countries like the Philippines and India, for example, more than doubled in northwest Winnipeg in the decade leading up 2016, according to the most recent census data available.

The increase in clients looking for multigenerational homes in the area has led to changes in how houses are being built, says Manak.

Many newcomer families started requesting specific features, such as an extra side entrance leading to a basement suite or a main floor that has both a bedroom and bathroom accessible without climbing stairs — ideal for families living with older parents.

“Almost every single home that we’ve done [in those areas] had this request,” Manak said of the roughly 40 houses his company built in Winnipeg’s northwest.

Those features became so popular that some of Manak Homes’ standard building plans have been modified to include them by default, he said.

Multigenerational homes on the rise

Across Canada, millions of people live in multigenerational homes. And that number appears to be on the rise.

As of the most recent census data available, roughly 6.3 per cent of the country’s entire population — or about 2.2 million people — lived in a home with at least three generations of the same family in 2016, according to Statistics Canada. 

And in the 15 years before that, the number of multigenerational homes in Canada rose by 37.5 per cent.

That’s the fastest rate of increase of any household type and well above the general increase in households during the same time period, which Statistics Canada pegged at 21.7 per cent.


This story is part of CBC Manitoba’s On the Move community journalism project, which invites residents to shine a light on the stories we should tell about their communities. The first communities we’re featuring are three Winnipeg suburbs: northwest Winnipeg, Bridgwater Forest and Valley Gardens.

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