by Norbert Schoenauer

Nobbs: Student and Apprentice
Nobbs at McGill
The Practicing Architect
Domestic Architecture
Nobbs, A Versatile Man
Nobbs and Montreal's Architecture



Percy Nobbs was an extraordinary man whose contribution to Canada, his adopted country, as well as to Montreal and McGill University was profound. He was one of the first architects who understood and appreciated Canadian building traditions, such as the traditional architecture of Quebec and Montreal's greystone houses, both of which he considered more suitable to local conditions than buildings based on designs imported from abroad. He saw a danger in the "Americanization" of our arts and architecture, and advocated the development of a Canadian design and building tradition, such as our predecessors possessed, but lost during the 19th century.32

Nobbs was a pioneer not only in architecture, but in the planning profession as well. He was a proponent of a comprehensive city plan for Montreal for town planning legislation for the Province of Quebec. When the City of Montreal, in 1941, established a planning department, Nobbs was retained as a consultant.

Percy Nobbs was elected president of the Province of Quebec Association of Architects (1924), president of the Town Planning Institute of Canada (1928), president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (1931), vice-president of the Montreal City Improvement League (1930), joint-chairman of the Montreal Committee on Housing and Slum Clearance, member of the Royal Society of Arts, London (1939), and acting president of the Royal Canadian Academy. He received the Outdoor Life Conservation Award (1952) and was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of letters by McGill University (1957).

Percy Erskine Nobbs died on November the 5th, 1964, at age eighty-nine, leaving behind a legacy of impeccable works of architecture, and of an exemplary devotion and dedication to both teaching and building architecture. Nobbs' drawings and artifacts were presented by Professor John Bland to the Blackader-Lauterman Library of Architecture and Art and have become an integral part of the library's Canadian Architecture Collection and is documented by Irena Murray in Percy Erksine Nobbs and His Associates: a Guide to the Archives/et ses associés: guide du fonds (1986).

Nobbs was born and educated in Scotland, but hislife's work flourished on the shores of the St. Lawrence. His grave can be found on the slopes of Mount Royal.


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32. Crossman, Kelly, Architecture in Transition: from Art to Practice, 1885-1906. Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1987, p. 129-130.