The focus of this Canadian website is on the activity and contribution of those who have described themselves, or who have advertised themselves to be, an architect, either amateur or professional, and it intentionally excludes those who work in a related trade such as a builder, contractor, entrepreneur, carpenter, surveyor or mason.
This website is intended to be an authoritative work of reference for the history of Canadian architecture during the study period of 1800 to 1950, and it contains biographies of over 2,200 architects who lived and worked in Canada as well as those architects who resided in the United States, Britain and elsewhere, and for whom it is now possible to link their names with buildings constructed in this country.
This Dictionary website lists every Canadian building of importance between 1800 and 1950 whose architect can be identified, together with essential information on the date of design, construction, alteration or demolition of the work. It is based on extensive original research conducted over a period of twenty-four years, much of it unpublished, and provides critically important information including the names of many Canadian architects previously unknown, as well as references to many buildings whose authorship is recorded nowhere else. Every citation of fact is based on the original sources quoted in the entries. These entries include an accurate list of each architect's work, arranged in chronological order, and may also include an assessment of his or her place in Canadian architectural history and, where appropriate, is accompanied by a comment on the style and aesthetic quality of the work.
It is inexplicable that, despite the voluminous number of books on Canadian art and artists, that fewer than 20 monographs exist on Canadian architects from the study period of this Dictionary. Even more puzzling is the fact that internationally renowned Canadian architects such as Frank Darling (winner of the British RIBA Gold Medal in 1915) and Henry Sproatt (winner of an American AIA Medal in 1924) have yet to be the subject of a monograph devoted to their career and work. The reasons for this may be linked directly to the lack of accurate and easily accessible source information which, in many cases, is presented here for the first time.
The Dictionary website is intended to correct this imbalance, by making available a substantial amount of information in the form of hard, ascertainable facts that have been too difficult to locate, or too time-consuming to gather from obscure sources and collections scattered across the country. It is hoped that this website will prove useful to anyone interested in Canadian architecture, including academics, historians, conservationists, architects, planners, students, heritage officers, and to those with an interest in the rich and varied architectural heritage of Canada.
Robert G. Hill, Architect, FRAIC April 2009