Welcome to the Canadian Architecture blog!

Welcome to the first Canadian Architecture blog brought to you by the Malcolmites! We hope this blog will encourage those interested in Canadian architecture to talk (or more specifically, type) about architecture in Canada.

Featured Building

Featured Building
William Eckhardt House, Unionville, Ontario (1852)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SSAC journals are now online

Exciting news, everyone: the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada (SSAC) has recently digitized its archive of journals! These were previously tricky to find in libraries and we are thrilled that they are now easily accessible. You can find them here.

If you are looking for some quality writing on Canadian architecture, be sure to take a look. If you want some specific suggestions, try "Why Such an Odd Plan? Milton Earl Beebe's St Thomas Anglican Church, St Catharines, Ontario" by Candace or "Storming the Castle: The Architecture of Trafalgar Castle" by Jess ... not that we're biased or anything.

Some of these articles will also be added to our Articles page for easy access. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lest we forget

In honour of Remembrance Day on Friday, November 11, we are bending the rules slightly with our selection of the Building of the Week. We realize that it's not a building, but we have decided to feature the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Built between 1926-1939 to commemorate the First World War, it was altered in 1982 in order to include the Second World War and the Korean War.

This Remembrance Day, be sure to pay tribute to all of the men and women who have made sacrifices for our country.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Weekend in the Capital...

The Malcomites descended upon the capital this weekend for the Universities Art Association of Canada Annual Conference. Friday presented a Malcolmite reunion at the National Gallery; Peter, Barry, Jess, myself, and the chief himself, Malcolm, met for drinks, laughs, and a bit of shop talk!

Saturday brought an early start to the day; Jess and I co-chaired two sessions on Canadian Architecture. The first session was such a succes that the second session was completely full, standing room only! The paper topics ranged from Gothic Revival churches and rectories, to architectural theory, to environmental design; the variety was amazing and both Jess and I are grateful to the presenters in our session for making it a success.

After a long day of conferencing, Jess and I ran around Ottawa taking in the sites and arrived at the Parliament Buildings just in time for "magic light"!

As the lights went down, we noticed a crowd of people was gathering across the street; it was a ghost tour...obviously we bought tickets and joined the crowd! We didn't see any ghosts, but we did see the post-mortem plaster cast of D'Arcy Mcgee's hand and a chandelier made of human hair!

Sunday we all dispersed...Barry went back to BC, Malcolm, Jess and I went back Toronto, and Peter stayed at home in Ottawa. The next stop for the Malcolmites...Winnipeg in March...that's right...March...it's going to be a bloody cold meeting for the M-mites, but it should be fun!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A strong endorsement

While photographing a lovely little church in Jordan, Ontario, we came across this chip truck with one hell of an endorsement (pun completely intended).
Unfortunately it was closed when we were there, but here's the church in case you were wondering: a nice little Gothic Revival number to make up for the lack of heavenly fries.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The 2012 Martin-Eli-Weil Prize has been announced!!!

Ok students, you should submit a paper for this; it's a great competition, and if you win you'll get $$$ and a publication!

The Martin-Eli-Weil Prize is awarded annually by the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada (SSAC) to a student who submits an essay on the role played by the built environment in Canadian society.



Hey folks,

Just a heads up that the Universities Art Association of Canada Annual Conference is coming up and that Candace and I are hosting a two-part session about Canadian architecture. We have a great line up of speakers, so if you are in the Ottawa area and looking for something to do on October 29, come and check it out!

Here is the conference schedule: http://www.uaac-aauc.com/files/UAAC%202011%20%2011%20OCT%20conference%20programme.pdf

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Canadian in Chicago

This past weekend I was in Chicago, the birthplace of the skyscraper. I managed to visit a good number of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century skyscrapers which made me think that it might be good to post a Canadian building that was influenced by the style. Toward the end of the century, iron and steel were used increasingly for the structure of buildings. The materials were strong and lightweight, allowing buildings to be built higher with larger windows. Elevators, recently-invented, made it possible to access the upper floors with ease and allowed buildings to maximize their available floorspace in upwardly expanding cities. One Canadian building that used many of these new techniques from the Chicago school is the Robert Simpson Co. Store in Toronto of 1895 by Toronto architect Edmund Burke.

Robert Simpson Co. Building, Toronto, 1895 (photo from here)
While it is only six stories high, it is important to remember that skyscrapers in the nineteenth century were not nearly as tall as what we might consider a skyscraper today. You can see that the building is of substantial size and that there is little wall space that is not occupied by windows as it makes use of the new metal-framing technology. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On Building Stone

Above: Sandyford Place, Hamilton, 1856-64. Photo from here.

For anyone interested in building materials, be sure to check out these articles by Gerard V. Middleton on the types of stones used in Hamilton. Middleton, a retired professor of geology, explains the different qualities of various specimens of stones and how they were used in local buildings.  A good read even if you are not familiar with the architecture of Hamilton.

Find the first part of the article here and the second part here.
Or visit http://raisethehammer.org/!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gothic Summit Update

Due to some scheduling conflicts, the Gothic Summit will not be held this year. It will be held in the spring of 2012. Details to follow.

Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Suffering for our art

Just a quick update: we just crawled out from under a church in Woodstock.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back on the blog

As I hinted the other day, we are back on the blog after a number of building visits.  Last week, we took a trip to help to round out Candace's collection of photos of buildings by Henry Langley, which took us to Brantford, Hamilton and St Catharine's with several other stops along the way.  8 churches (and even 2 houses for me!) in a day!  All of the buildings on our trip were Gothic Revival in style. Here are a couple of photos from some of our stops.
Above: St John's Anglican, Port Dalhousie by Gundry and Langley
Above: Rock Castle, Hamilton of 1848
Above: Nave pier and ceiling of William Thomas's 1840s portion of Christ Church, Hamilton

Thursday, August 11, 2011

On the road again

Well after a busy couple of months we are back with our cameras exploring Southwestern Ontario. More posts to follow, but for now here is a little appetizer from Christ Church Cathedral, Hamilton.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Paris Plains Church: A Quaint Essay in Regency Gothic

Located approximately 3 km north of Paris, Ontario, you'll find Paris Plains Church, originally called the West Dumphries Wesleyan Chapel.

The chapel was constructed by volunteer labour in 1845, under the supervision of Levi Boughton, an American builder from New York that introduced the use of cobblestone exteriors to the Paris area circa 1839. In Ontario, cobblestone became a localized building material specific to the Paris area. Examples include: Kilton Cottage (1857), St. James Anglican Church (1839), the Sowden Home and Dispensary (1840), and the Levi Boughton House (1951-52).

Paris Plains Church is a lovely example of the Regency style of Gothic architecture, one of the earliest forms of Gothic to be used in Ontario. As a style, Regency Gothic grew out of the neoclassical tradition. At Paris Plains, for example, the general plan of the building is neoclassical, but the details are a romanticized form of gothic.The vernacular preaching hall plan with classical proportions is directly influenced by neoclassicism. The entrance is placed centrally on the facade with windows on either side, classical quoins define the corners, and the roof is shallowly pitched with a return cornice, creating something similar to the broken pediment of a classical temple facade.
Like other Regency Gothic buildings in Ontario, the gothic elements (the windows), are purely ornamental and are not rooted in the medieval gothic tradition. In fact, the intersecting muntin bars and the sash windows are taken from domestic sources.
The next time you're travelling in Brant, stop to see Paris Plains Church; it's located in a beautiful park-like setting, a perfect spot for a picnic lunch.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Building of the Week: Holy Trinity, Quebec City

Our building of the week is the earliest Anglican cathedral in all of Canada.  Completed in 1804, this church is a beacon of Englishness in a French town, with its use of the quintessentially-English model of James Gibbs' St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London of 1726.  Churches based on this model can be found all over the colonies and we have documented many ourselves.

The interior is, as might be expected from the exterior, faithful to the interior of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, with its balconies, classicizing plaster work and Palladian eastern window.
Above: interior looking east
While the exterior appears lavish in its use of ashlar masonry (large, smooth, square-cut stones), upon closer inspection it is revealed that the surface is really imitation ashlar:
Above: detail of "ashlar masonry" on west facade
Real stone, however, was used in some areas for emphasis, notably for the giant Ionic order pilasters and the enclosing arches on the west facade.
Above: the variety of materials used on the west facade
This is a common money-saving technique for buildings of all kinds at the time: spend money on the prominent features and use less expensive materials for other areas, making the building look like it cost more to make than it really did.

If you find yourself in Quebec City, be sure to check out this building - it's only a stone's throw from the Chateau Frontenac and is definitely worth your time.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Have you heard?

Have you heard? The Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada has a new blog!  The purpose of this blog is to keep members up to date on current events with the Society as well as happenings in each province.

Check out the new blog at http://ssacnews.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Building of the Week: Worker's house in Arvida

This week's building of the week is a worker's house in Arvida, Quebec that we had the pleasure of touring last week. The house is a small two-bedroom house that must be put into context to understand its true value.

Erected in the group of houses built for Alcoa Aluminum after 1927, this small house was part of a newfangled idea on the part of the company's owners to give each worker a house of his own.  Company towns prior to this provided cramped spaces for workers, so the idea to provide separate single-family dwellings for each employee was quite radical.  Since the average family size at the time would have been much larger, a private house on this scale would have been incredibly appealing to workers.

The town boasts that it was built in 135 days, a feat which was achieved by the use of prefabricated elements to construct the houses, much like the assembly line ideals of Ford.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The return home

Today we bade adieu to Saguenay and its rushing waters and returned to Toronto.
Above: The Saguenay River from atop the Arvida Bridge
We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who made this year's conference possible. Their hard work is greatly appreciated and everything ran very smoothly.

Perhaps the best news of the entire week is that, in Arivda, we found the soulmate of our ugly green rental car....

Above: our jelly bean of a rental car

Above: our jelly bean's long-lost love... and I don't mean Candace
I really hope those two crazy kids make it!

Blogging live from the banquet

The banquet was a delightful and delicious success. As you can see from the photo above, the torch of conference organization was passed from Lucie back to Peter - and by torch, I of course mean lobster, now adorned with an aluminum 'A' for Arvida.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

SSAC Day 4: The Final Conference Day

So far we've had a great time in Chicoutimi and Arvida; last night we walked down to the water and along the boardwalk, followed by an amazing pasta dinner at Artis - highly recommended! We started the day today with our usual tasty Quebec breakfast and then were off to hear some early morning papers dealing with architectural decor, followed by modern architectural exhibitions, and then lunch - tourtieres, salad and lovely desserts!
The AGM was extremely eventful this year. Peter did an amazing job as President residing over the meeting, Barry's title was clarified - he is now the VP in charge of Membership, Candace resigned as Ontario Representative in order to accept a new position as News & Views Editor on the Board, and Jess assumed the position of Ontario Representative - Congrats Jess and welcome to the SSAC Board of Directors!

SSAC: the papers

The entire conference has been jam-packed full of excellent papers. Candace hosted a session titled "Urban and Villages Churches" that consisted of 9 different papers that were broken down into 3 sessions over two days. The first two sessions were yesterday and in the first, we heard about the evolution of the features of St James' Anglican Church in Stuartville (Kingston, Ontario), as well as from Candace about the small-town churches of 19th-century Ontario architect Henry Langley.

We also heard about Montreal architect Joseph Venne's St-Enfant-J├ęsus, Montreal and its relation to la Chartreuse as well as from Barry about the standardization of mid-20th century church plans and materials. In the second session we heard about the heritage values assigned to the churches in the Montreal borough of Verdun and about the adaptive reuse of churches across Quebec (from restaurants to climbing gyms!).

In the third and final session today, we heard about a modernist church of mixed materials including poured concrete, stone and glass in Goderich, Ontario, adaptations in wood of Gibbsian preaching boxes in 18th-century Nova Scotia and from Malcolm (via Candace) about the work of Gordon W. Lloyd, a little-known church architect who worked mainly in present-day south-western Ontario.

Otherwise, we attended a variety of sessions covering a wide variety of topics, the current research session included an update on Gothic Revival houses from Jess, the building of Arts and Crafts houses across the country, and the use of laser technology to map various aspects of buildings. Other sessions covered the curation of architectural exhibits, heritage issues, architectural decor and aspects of company town planning.

The sessions have run very smoothly, thanks to excellent organization.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

SSAC day 2: Day trip to Arvida

After a morning of great papers, we all hopped on a bus from Chicoutimi to Arvida.  Our first stop was (of course) the pub for lunch where we were warmly welcomed by the owner of the Brasserie d'Arvida and Arivida's alderman. With full stomachs we headed to the Arvida bridge - built of aluminum in 1950.
Above: part of the group at the Arvida bridge

Following this, we went into town to check out the houses of Arvida or, as it is also known, "the city built in 135 days."  The town was designed as a company town for Alcoa in 1927 with a plan for generously-sized workers' houses that were built using pre-fabricated elements assembled in a variety of different ways to produce homes that were similar, but all slightly different.  Here are a couple of examples below: 

See what I mean?

Despite the rain, we soldiered on and toured through the second, later phase of house-building in Arvida before arriving at the Salle Arthur-Vining-Davis (named after the name-sake of Arvida - Ar-Vi-Da... get it?) for the exclusive premiere of the "Memoires d'Arvida" exhibit accompanied by a wine and cheese reception.

Overall, a drizzly day, but very interesting and informative!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

First Day in Quebec for SSAC

Today we woke up bright and early and flew from Toronto to Quebec City.  In true Malcolmite fashion, we hit the ground running and began our day of visits pretty much right after picking up our ugly green car.  Before heading up to Chicoutimi for the conference, we spent some time doing a whirlwind tour of Vieux Quebec.

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, Quebec City

We were fortunate enough to have a beautiful sunny day to explore the UNESCO World Heritage site so we could check out the 17th century houses, some churches and the Chateau Frontenac (AND to allow us to enjoy some patio-poutine and la tire).

Maison Chevalier with Chateau Frontenac behind it on the hill

Following this, we drove to Chicoutimi for the beginning of the conference.  We will be posting more of our photos from Quebec City soon, but I have to give my paper in the morning and should probably get some sleep!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

St Stephen's in the spring

I snapped this shot of St Stephen's-in-the-Fields, Toronto about 2 weeks ago. When I walked by yesterday, the facade was barely visible because of all the leaves! I guess all this rain is good for something. It's not the best picture, but there probably won't be a better one until the fall or winter.

Monday, May 9, 2011

SSAC conference program

If anyone is interested, the program for the upcoming 38th annual conference for the Society of the Study of Architecture in Canada (May 25-28) can be found on the SSAC website.  It looks like there will be a wide variety of topics covered and it is shaping up to be a really great conference (as always).

We will be blogging regularly from the conference, so don't worry if you can't make it!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New BOTW Format

Hi everyone,

We thought we'd try out a new format, so for now, the Building of the Week will be placed at the top of the page.  Sometimes we feel that our beautiful buildings of the week get neglected being placed so far at the bottom of the page - even we forget about them sometimes!

Hope you like it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A new article!

A new article, written by Jess, was published today, April 12, in Raise the Hammer.  This article looks at the famed Auchmar House (1855) situated on the top of the Niagara Escarpment. There is no known architect for the house and so it is given a much-needed stylistic analysis in this accessible little article.

Read it online here:

If you are interested in visiting the house, it will be part of Doors Open Hamilton May 7 & 8, from 10am to 4pm!  Don't miss it!

Where does the time go?

Hello everyone,

Is it possible that it is almost mid-April?  Time flies and this PhD thing is pretty time-consuming.

Sorry for our lack of posts, but know that we are hard at work and we will have some great fodder for the blog soon! We have an exciting trip to Quebec planned for next month and that is just the beginning...

Jess and Candace

Thursday, March 10, 2011

CCMAH this weekend

This Friday and Saturday (March 11&12), the annual Canadian Conference of Medieval Art Historians is being held at the University of Toronto. We will be hearing papers regarding current research in medieval and medieval revival art and architectural history.  In terms of Canadian architecture, we will be hearing from Peter about Non-Anglican Gothic Revival in Nova Scotia and from me about the Gothic Revival Auchmar house in Hamilton, Ontario.  We will also be hearing from our medievally-inclined friends Malcolm, Candice and Ronny about Norman, Norwegian and English architecture in the 11th and 12th centuries.

It should be a great weekend. Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Restoration Project

Today, I was fortunate enough to have been given a tour of a recent restoration project on a fully-detached nineteenth-century house near Harbord and Spadina in Toronto. This house, which blends elements from the Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne styles of the late nineteenth century, retains much of its original interior woodwork and its original mixture of stylistic features that compose its characteristically Torontonian facade. We will be keeping an eye on this project, not least because my father's company is handling the restoration as well as the large addition on the rear. Way to go, Dad! It's looking great!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Top 5 visits of 2010

2010 was an amazing year for building visits and looking back over the year, there were a couple of definite highlights. To say goodbye to 2010 and to kick off 2011, we have selected our top 5 building visits of 2010. Here they are in order of the dates that we visited them.

1. Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria, BC

In April, we packed our cameras and headed for the west coast where we were extremely lucky to get a tour of Christ Church Cathedral with special access above the stone vaults and on the roof to see the flying buttresses. For more photos, click here.

2. The Church of the Holy Cross, aka the "Skookumchuk Church," Skatin, BC

While in BC, we travelled inland to see this wooden marvel. The 1905 Carpenter's Gothic church is currently undergoing repairs to restore it to its full glory. For more information, visit the Ama Liisaos Heritage Trust Society.

3. Auchmar House, Hamilton, ON

This spring, we visited this spectacular Gothic Revival villa perched on the top of the Niagara Escarpment. There will be more to come in the next few months on this fascinating house, but for now, click here.

4. The Provincial Normal College, Truro, NS

In May, we packed up again and headed to the other side of the country to explore Nova Scotia. We went to Truro to check out the Anglican church, but we were pleasantly surprised to find this Second Empire gem. This 1877 red brick building proved to be one of our favourite stops!

5. Old Holy Trinity, Middleton, NS
One of our last stops in Nova Scotia was to visit this 1789 wooden church. The Gothic windows in this little church may well mark one of the earliest appearances of the motif in Canada.  It was a great visit and a great way to wrap up our trip out east!

Friday, January 28, 2011

We're back!

Hello everyone and happy 2011!

We'd like to sincerely apologize for the incredibly long hiatus.  Both Candace and I completed our comprehensive exams shortly before the holidays which took many months of preparation, hence no blogging for many months.  Fortunately, we are now on the other side and back in action - back to our own research, travels and blogging!

Thanks for your patience and we look forward to getting back to posting regularly.

Jess and Candace

Above: Candace and Jess posing somewhat awkwardly in a strange side-by-side door frame