Gordon, Robert George

GORDON, Robert George (1857-1922) was active in Calgary, Alberta for a brief period from July 1905 until early 1908. Born in Limehouse St. Anne, Borough of Stepney, London, England on 2 March 1857, he was educated and trained in that country, and began his career in Australia where he was staff architect to the Melbourne Tramways Trust from January 1887 until July 1890. He is listed in Melbourne City directories with his own office from 1891 to 1905; his best known work there is the winning design in the competition for the Melbourne City Markets, Flinders Street at Spencer Street, 1891-92, demol.. This remarkable High Victorian Gothic complex stretched for more than six hundred feet and covered nearly six acres of land adjacent to Queen's Wharf (Building & Engineering Journal [Melbourne], 24 Jan. 1891, 28, descrip. and plate illus.; Illustrated Australian News, 1 June 1891, 10, descrip. & plate illus.).

For unknown reasons Gordon decided to leave Australia and emigrate to Canada in June 1905 where he opened an office in Calgary, Alberta (Daily Herald [Calgary], 11 July 1905, 10, with biography of R.G. Gordon). Shortly after arriving, he won the architectural competition for the new South Ward Public School in Calgary (Daily Herald [Calgary], 4 Dec. 1905, 9, advert.). By that time he claimed to have '...thirty-two years experience in all branches of architecture on three continents and New Zealand' (Calgary City Directory, 1906, 175, illus. advert.), but his reputation rests largely on his knowledge of industrial engineering works, particularly cold storage and gas works. In Calgary his largest project was a coarsely detailed Scottish Baronial design for the High School, 13th Avenue (1907-08). His chief assistant in his Calgary office was David S. McIlroy. Gordon found the climate of western Canada so inhospitable that he closed his office and moved back to Australia in early 1908. His disparaging remarks about life in Canada were quoted at length in an interview published in the Sydney Herald on 3 March 1908. Many of his negative comments later appeared in the Daily Herald [Calgary], 24 April 1908, page 11, and he chose to remain in Melbourne for the duration of his career. He died at St. Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria State, on 17 January 1922 (death notice The Age [Melbourne], 19 Jan. 1922, 1; inf. State Library of Victoria, Melbourne; inf. Dr. Miles Lewis, Melbourne).

CALGARY, ALTA., a 12 room public school for the South Ward, 1905-06 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 26 Sept. 1905, 4, descrip.; 7 Dec. 1905, 8, t.c.; 11 Dec. 1905, 5, advert.)
OKOTOKS, ALTA., Methodist Church, 1906 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 21 Feb. 1906, 7, t.c.)
LACOMBE, ALTA., extensive additions and reconstruction of the Victoria Hotel, for Charles Lehrman, 1906 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 12 May 1906, 15, t.c.)
LACOMBE, ALTA., Morrison & Johnston Hardware Co., Barnett Avenue, retail store, 1906 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 17 May 1906, 9, t.c.; Alberta, Historical Walking & Driving Tour: Lacombe, 1989, Building No. 14, illus. & descrip., but lacking attribution)
CALGARY, ALTA., Calgary Milling Co., 4th Street West at 9th Avenue, a five storey concrete mill building, 1906 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 19 July 1906, 6, descrip.)
RED DEER, ALTA., an 8 room school, of brick and stone, 1906 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 9 Aug. 1906, 9, t.c.)
CALGARY, ALTA., residence for Elisha A. Dagg, 12th Avenue West near 7th Street, 1906 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 21 Aug. 1906, 6, t.c.)
CALGARY, ALTA., residence for John Horne, 12th Avenue West at 7th Street, 1906 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 21 Aug. 1906, 6, t.c.)
CALGARY, ALTA., residence for A. Scotland, 15th Avenue West, 1906 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 31 Aug. 1906, 9, t.c.)
LACOMBE, ALTA., A. Urquhart & Co. Department Store, Barnett Avenue, 1907 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 16 Jan. 1907, 9, t.c.; Alberta, Historical Walking & Driving Tour: Lacombe, 1989, Building No. 16, illus. & descrip., but lacking attribution)
CALGARY, ALTA., residence for Charles Traunweiser, 4th Avenue East near 1st Street, 1907 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 31 Jan. 1907, 10, t.c.)
CALGARY, ALTA., residence for W. Nimmons, in the Bankview subdivision, 1907 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 20 Feb. 1907, 6, t.c.)
LACOMBE, ALTA., a two storey block of stores and offices for Herbert A. Day, 1907 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 18 April 1907, 12, t.c.; Alberta, Historical Walking & Driving Tour: Lacombe, 1989, Building No. 12, illus. & descrip., but lacking attribution)
LACOMBE, ALTA., St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 51st Avenue at 53rd Street, 1907 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 27 May 1907, 3, t.c.; Red Deer News, 29 May 1907, 8, t.c.; Alberta, Historical Walking & Driving Tour: Lacombe, 1989, Building No. 22, illus. & descrip., but lacking attribution)
CALGARY, ALTA., High School, 13th Avenue S.W., 1907-08 (Calgary Herald, 8 June 1907, 3, t.c.; 15 July 1907, 1; B. Melnyk, Calgary Builds 1905-1914, 1985, 95, 120, illus.; dwgs. at Calgary Board of Education)
OKOTOKS, ALTA., Town Hall & Fire Hall, 1907 (Daily Herald [Calgary], 19 June 1907, 1; C.R., xviii, 3 July 1907, 4)
RED DEER, ALTA., a public school, 1907 (Red Deer News, 16 Oct. 1907, 7)

COMPETITIONS

CALGARY, ALTA., Young Men's Christian Association, 9th Avenue East, 1906. Four designs were sent in by local architects, including one from G.L. Gordon (sic], who is likely R.G. Gordon. The winner was the Calgary firm of Hodgson & Bates (Daily Herald [Calgary], 20 March 1906, 1)