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Toronto Architect Edmund Burke

Toronto Architect Edmund Burke: Redefining Canadian Architecture

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Toronto Architect Edmund Burke
    Book Description:

    Burke's career spanned a key period in Canadian architecture as the profession transcended its colonial beginnings to reach maturity with Canadian-born practitioners who converted both American architectural developments and European traditions into forms appropriate to the new Canadian federation. Burke's contributions to Canadian architecture include introducing the technology of the "Chicago men" to Canada and helping to establish a formal professional organization for architects in Ontario. Carr documents a comprehensive selection of Burke's works, including his firm's famous Robert Simpson store in Toronto, the first curtain-wall construction in Canada. She places Burke's life and career within the larger social context, addressing the influence of American architects and architecture, the sociology of professions, the organization of architectural offices, and the history of particular building forms.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6486-2
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Chronology
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Toronto architect Edmund Burke (1850–1919) is known chiefly for his role in introducing “curtain-wall” construction to Canada and for his part in establishing a formal professional organization for architects in Ontario. His career covers a critical period at the end of the last century when the profession sought legal recognition of its status – a move designed to protect the public from unscrupulous and unqualified practitioners while at the same time providing architects with a standing in the community and suitable financial recompense for the spiraling demands upon their expertise. But Burke’s significance is not limited to these matters...

  6. 2 Apprenticeship and Draughtsmanship: The Educational Lineage
    (pp. 5-19)

    In 1897 the British architect Leonard Stokes likened the “system of observation” upon which architectural apprenticeship was based to watching a conjurer “bring two live rabbits and a bunch of flowers out of an empty hat” – the better the performer, the more obscure the process.¹ The state of architectural education in Canada during the same period was no less a matter of concern. As late as 1900 in an address before the Architectural League of America, Toronto architect Eden Smith observed that “we have no generally approved and accepted course of training for the architectural student. The usual system...

  7. 3 Ecclesiastical Architecture: The Triumph and Demise of the Amphitheatre Plan
    (pp. 20-48)

    Because ecclesiastical architecture was the mainstay of Henry Langley’s practice, Burke’s early design experience was concentrated in this area, providing a thorough preparation for his first independent commission.¹ When Burke began his articles in the mid-1860s, Gothic revival was the usual choice for most Toronto churches, the tradition having been established by the Anglican church under the influence of two important ideological developments in Britain.² The first, initiated in the 1830s and 1840s by British architect and theorist Augustus Welby Pugin, promoted what he called “pointed” or “Christian” architecture in preference to the Baroque classicism of Wren’s auditory churches. Pugin,...

  8. 4 Residential Architecture: Human and Climatic Considerations
    (pp. 49-74)

    In an address to the Toronto Architectural Sketch Club in 1892 on the elements of building construction, Burke managed to quantify almost in passing his conception of Canadian cultural identity, at least in the field of architecture. Having cited the English bookBuilding Constructionas an admirable reference text,¹ he started to describe how Canadian framing methods differed:

    Much of the splicing, cogging, jointing and morticing dealt with in Mitchell is practically obsolete in this country, much better results being obtainable by the use of wro’t iron bolts, straps and stirrups, the use of which avoids the inevitable weakening of...

  9. 5 Institutional Projects: Beauty Grows upon Utility
    (pp. 75-98)

    Among the many building types with which Burke and his predecessors were concerned, institutional commissions were the least common, probably because of the magnitude of the projects and the scarcity of public and private endowments. When Ontario was settled at the end of the eighteenth century, the government declined to enact poor law legislation and relied on private charities administered by the churches to care for society’s disadvantaged. Toronto General Hospital only received permanent government funding in the 1870s, after being closed for an entire year in 1867.¹ Not until the latter half of the nineteenth century did the proliferating...

  10. 6 Commercial Architecture: The Langley Years and the Simpson’s Store
    (pp. 99-125)

    In January 1894 Toronto architect R.W. Gambier-Bousfield addressed the fifth annual convention of the Ontario Association of Architects (oaa) on “The Construction of Shop Fronts During the Next Decade.” He expressed the view that glass and iron or steel would be most appropriate for future commercial structures because “the requirements of trade necessitated in a good many branches the exhibition of wares and stock on every floor.” Citing a clothing store on King Street East known as Oak Hall, just built in 1893 (fig. 6.1), and an unidentified building on Bay Street south of Wellington as examples where “the whole...

  11. 7 New York and Chicago: Manifest Destiny and the Later Commercial Works
    (pp. 126-153)

    In the autumn of 1894, after an extensive European tour, John Horwood returned to Toronto where he joined Edmund Burke’s firm, formally entering into partnership on I January 1895.¹ Their artistic personalities were distinct, as were the sources from which they drew inspiration. Burke’s affinity for simple and economical design was reflected in the sparsely ornamented post-and-lintel system he chose for the Robert Simpson store, whereas Horwood was strongly influenced by the historicist traditions of New York and the observations of his recent European sojourn.² His influence can be discerned in the firm’s more ornate designs.

    On 6 January 1895...

  12. 8 Professional Organization: Education and the Public Interest
    (pp. 154-169)

    In the last two decades of his life Edmund Burke turned his attention to what might best be described as community service. His involvement with the Ontario Association of Architects, which began at its inception in 1889, became a major commitment in the early years of the new century. Having served one term as president of the provincial organization in 1894, he was elected again in 1905–7, at the same time acting as chairman of the Toronto chapter. In 1906, during his tenure as provincial president, he chaired the federal government’s board of assessors in a public competition for...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 170-174)

    In 1856 Owen Jones described architecture as “the material expression of the wants, the faculties, and the sentiments of the age in which it is created.”¹ Current scholarship often characterizes the nineteenth century as a period of conflict between the historicizing influences of style and the rationalism of structure, but both are in fact equally “logical” legacies of the Enlightenment. This opposition is implicit in the oaa discussion of “Shop Fronts in the Next Decade” and in Burke’s defence of the adaptation of traditional forms to modern uses. His design for the Robert Simpson store, begun a few weeks later,...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 175-210)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 211-228)
  16. Index
    (pp. 229-233)