MUNDIE, William (1811-1858), one of the first landscape architects to live and work in Upper Canada, and he is included here because he designed one of the first large-scale public greenhouses and conservatories erected on public lands in Ontario. Born in Rathen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland on 16 April 1811, Mundie was educated and trained there as a lansdcape gardener and as an architectural draughtsman. He arrived in Upper Canada in 1850 and settled in Hamilton, where he was one of the founding members of the Hamilton Horticultural Society in March 1850. He gained early success as a landscape gardener, designing the grounds of several large residential gardens and conservatories on Hamilton Mountain for William P. McLaren, for Adam Brown, and for Aeneas S. Kennedy.
In 1853, while still residing in Hamilton, he obtained a major commission in Toronto from Egerton Ryerson, who hired Mundie to prepare plans and architectural drawings for the landscaping and buildings at the site of the Normal & Model School, Gould Street (this major institution had been designed by Cumberland & Ridout and built in 1851-52). His “…exquisite taste in landscape gardening” proved popular with the citizens of Toronto who made the grounds of the Normal School a favoured destination and meeting place, and led to the entire block being renamed ‘St. James Square‘. Mundie later moved to Toronto in 1854 to take up residence, and was the logical candidate to prepare the Master Plan for the grounds of the University of Toronto, and to design their Botanical Garden. He was a talented draftsman and delineator, and several of his architectural drawings which survive show him to have possessed considerable skill, likely gained in an architects’ office in Scotland. One of his last works in Ontario was the bold, geometric layout for the public cemetery at St. Catharines, Ont. There, his picturesque circular plan may have been inspired by innovative cemetery planning already taking place in the United States.
Mundie died in Hamilton on 17 April 1858 at the age of 47 years (obit. Hamilton Spectator [Weekly], 29 April 1858, 8). A lengthy illustrated essay on the career and work of William Mundie, written by David Bain of Toronto, was published in the Journal of Garden History [London], Vol. 5, No. 3, July-September 1985, 298-308, illus.). His grandson was William Bryce Mundie, an architect who had trained in Hamilton and later moved to Chicago where he became a partner in the well-known firm of Jenney & Mundie, Architects.
(works in Upper Canada)
TORONTO, ONT., landscape plan for the new Trinity College, Queen Street West at Strachan Avenue, 1853 (list of projects in the Journal of Education for Upper Canada [Toronto], vi, Nov. 1853, 170)
TORONTO, ONT., The Normal School, Gould Street at the head of Bond Street, landscaping of the grounds of the School, Experimental Farm, and architectural design of the Greenhouse, 1853 (Journal of Education for Upper Canada, vi, Nov. 1853, 170, ix, 1856, 59; descrip.; Canada Farmer [Toronto], iii, 1866, 220, descrip.; History of the Toronto Normal School 1847-1947, 23; architectural drawings for the Greenhouse at OA, Horwood Coll., Item 79)
TORONTO, ONT., University of Toronto, master plan for the landscape of the University grounds from College Street to Bloor Street West, c. 1855-56 (list of projects in the Journal of Education for Upper Canada [Toronto], vi, Nov. 1853, 170; Journal of Garden History [London], Vol. 5, No. 3, July-September 1985, 303, 305, illus. & descrip.; orig. drawing Ontario Archives, Toronto)
TORONTO, ONT., University of Toronto, plan for a Botanical Garden, from the front of University College southward to College Street, 1857 (Journal of Garden History [London], Vol. 5, No. 3, July-September 1985, 304-05, illus. & descrip.)
ST. CATHARINES, ONT., architectural design of the gates and fence for the Public Cemetery, 1855 (orig. watercolour drawings by Mundie at the St. Catharines Historical Museum)
ST. CATHARINES, ONT., plan for the Freemason’s Burial Lot at St. Catharines Cemetery, October 1856 (orig. watercolour drawings by Mundie at the St. Catharines Historical Museum)
TORONTO, ONT., glass conservatories at “Woodlawn”, the residence of Hon. Joseph C. Morrison, Yonge Street at Woodlawn Avenue, c. 1856 (Canadian Agriculturalist [Toronto], xii, 1860, 80)
QUEENSTON, ONT., landscape plan for the grounds around the Brock Monument, 1857 (Ontario Archives, Merritt Papers, Package No. 8, inf. Letter from William Mundie to W.H. Merritt dated 1 April 1857)