Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Architecture in Transition

Architecture in Transition: From Art to Practice, 1885-1906

Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 250
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Architecture in Transition
    Book Description:

    However, behind the public face of design, architectural life in Canada during the 1880s and 1890s was in turmoil. The Canadian public had lost confidence in its designers, students were forced to study abroad to secure a first-class education, professional rivalry was unscrupulous, architectural competitions a scandal. American architects and their architecture were the fashion. These things changed, but not before the world of the Canadian architect had been turned on its head, replaced by one which resembled the world of contemporary architects, with professional organisations, regulated standards, formalised education centred in the universities, and the belief that Canadian architecture should reflect local climates, culture, and geography.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6138-0
    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-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-6)

    During the last half of the nineteenth century, Canadian architecture followed the changing currents of architectural taste in France, Great Britain, and the United States as a matter of course. This was a reflection of personal, cultural, and commercial ties, but it also reflected a willingness on the part of many architects, and a desire on the part of many clients, to imitate fashionable styles whether they were suited to Canada or not. By the end of the century things had begun to change. Architects remained open to and dependent on foreign ideas, but the view was now widely held...

  6. The illustrations
    (pp. None)

    • CHAPTER ONE Developments 1885–1890
      (pp. 9-27)

      At the beginning of the 1880s, architecture in Canada was little different from what it had been a decade earlier. There had been changes in fashion, but these had had little effect on the way buildings were constructed, on the materials used, or on the architects who used them. In contrast, in the United States the 1870s had been a decade of innovation and change. American experiments in spatial oganization, in the use of iron and steel, and in the manipulation of historical styles such as the Romanesque had already begun to transform American architecture.¹ Since the patterns of American...

    • CHAPTER TWO Organization
      (pp. 28-35)

      One of the effects of the controversies of the 1880s was to make Canadian architects aware of the need for greater communication among themselves. During the negotiations with the Montreal Board of Trade this awareness had led to united action in an effort to discredit what was perceived to be an unjust competition. By 1890 the same spirit of co-operation had given rise first to informal groups of architects and then to professional associations.

      The idea of an organization of architects was not new to Canada in the 1880s even though there was in 1885 neither a formal nor an...

    • CHAPTER THREE Statutory Registration
      (pp. 36-50)

      George Ross supported the formation of the Ontario Association of Architects (oaa) because he needed a province-wide association which would set and maintain standards of architectural education in the province. Both Ross and the Architectural Guild agreed that once the oaa was incorporated, the association would be required by law to set examinations, appoint examiners, and “make all necessary rules, regulations and by-laws respecting the admission and registration of students.”¹ The Ontario architects themselves hoped that organization would bring something more. They wanted to raise architectural standards and so counter the popularity of American architects. In exchange for their assuming...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Architectural Education
      (pp. 51-64)

      The role of George Ross in the formation of the oaa guaranteed that one of the prime responsibilities of the association would be the reform of architectural education. Indeed, in the light of the changes made to the Architects’ Act, some architects were of the opinion that it was the only responsibility left them. In Quebec, where architects lacked the incentive provided by Ross, the pqaa was nevertheless willing to take on the burden of architectural education just as architects had done in Ontario. The reason is that by 1890 Canadian architects themselves had come to recognize that the lack...


    • CHAPTER FIVE Steel, Iron, and Glass in the 1890s
      (pp. 67-84)

      To a considerable degree, the debate over architectural education in Canada after 1885 was a reflection of the growing influence of applied science on architectural design. Beginning in the 1880s, the use of steel and iron in building began to increase dramatically, and architects were called upon to demonstrate a skill and expertise in steel construction which less than a generation before had been considered far beyond the concern of the ordinary architect. The Montreal architect A.C. Hutchison commented in 1893: “There is so much steel and iron entering our buildings that an architect requires a knowledge of the quality,...

    • The illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER SIX The Eighteen Club Reaction and Beaux-Arts Ideas in Education
      (pp. 85-106)

      By the late 1890s in Quebec, the introduction of statutory registration had brought the pqaa credibility and the promise of an assured future. In Ontario, however, the failure of the successive registration bills and disappointment over the educational policy of the oaa had led to a growing disillusionment with the oaa in general. In March of 1898, in the midst of the debate within the oaa over whether the association should continue or abandon its program of architectural examinations, the depth of dissatisfaction on the part of at least some architects was made clear in an open letter written and...

    • The illustrations
      (pp. None)

    • CHAPTER SEVEN The National Idea
      (pp. 109-121)

      By the early 1900s, the idea that architecture should be expressive of history, climate, and national life had taken hold in Canada. Pride in an expanding country, professional self-confidence, Arts and Crafts theory – all were factors stimulating the desire for national expression. But even before this, in the 1880s and 1890s, at a time when the profession as a whole was preoccupied with registration and the threat of American competition, some architects had already begun to think about architecture in nationalist terms. They prepared the ground, and when the clouds of economic depression lifted at the end of the...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Percy Nobbs and a National Theory
      (pp. 122-135)

      In his biographical note on the life of Gerald Baldwin Brown, the first Watson Gordon professor of fine art at the University of Edinburgh, D. Talbot Rice wrote that Brown’s historical writing was marked by a perspective where “art is considered as manifestation of the life and culture of its age, and where great importance is always given to the connexion between art and its social background.”¹ While Brown never taught in Canada, it is with him that we find the natural beginning to this chapter, for it was this idea – that all art is intimately connected with the...

    • CHAPTER NINE Towards a National Architecture: The Ottawa and Saskatchewan Competitions
      (pp. 136-152)

      In his articulation of a theory which would lay the basis for a national architecture, Percy Nobbs summed up the feelings of Canadian architects of all camps. His vision of an architecture nationalist in expression but based on French and English precedent appealed even to those, like W.S. Maxwell, whose method was rooted in the Beaux-Arts system. “Of late years,” wrote Maxwell in 1908, “there has been a distinct advance made in McGill University, under the able direction of Professor Nobbs, a comprehensive course is given which, while making use of some of the principles in vogue in France, aims...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 153-176)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 177-187)
  12. Picture Credits
    (pp. 188-188)
  13. Index
    (pp. 189-193)