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The France Gagnon Pratte Collection represents primarily the research and preparation of her book Country Houses for Montrealers, 1892-1924: The Architecture of E. and W.S. Maxwell, Montreal: Meridian Press, 1987. The collection is subdivided into three categories: [1] Private Buildings, which are the country houses themselves; [2] Public Buildings, which offer architectural examples that influenced the Maxwell projects and their public commissions; and [3] the Canadian Pacific Railway Series, describing various stations and landmark hotels along the CPR line across Canada.

The guide's emphasis remains with the country houses, corresponding to the main thrust of the book. It is an insightful overview into the Maxwell legacy and features the popular retreats of prominent people that shaped Canada in its developing years. As well, the guide itself is complementary to the two important publications previously published by the CAC: Edward & W.S. Maxwell: Guide to the Archive (1986) and The Libraries of Edward & W.S. Maxwell (1991).

Edward Maxwell, as well as working alone, formed several partnerships throughout his career: first with George Cutler Shattuck and Charles Allerton Coolidge, and later with his brother William Sutherland. After Edward's death, William formed a partnership with Gordon Pitts and continued the firm started by his brother. The West Island, the Laurentians, and St-Andrews, New Brunswick, were popular summer spots for the Maxwell clientele, and the architecture of these country houses varied from log houses and the picturesque Shingle Style to stone mansions and the classic elegance of the Beaux Arts Style.

The public commissions received by Edward, and later William, expanded their reputation in other prominent building typologies. By way of recommendation from previous business patrons, the Maxwell brothers designed elegant structures for banks, hotels, office buildings, and retail stores. Art establishments also requested their talents for cultural houses, as did private clubs where most of their clients were members. A small sampling of Maxwell religious architecture exists, but unfortunately many of the churches are no longer standing. When William joined Edward's firm, there was an increase in participation in competitions for government complexes, a talent acquired by William in his apprenticeship years.

An important branch of the Maxwell contribution to Canadian architecture is their Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Stations and Hotels across the country. Initiated by Sir William Van Horne, the 'art of the station' created an ensemble of rail buildings from the humble one storey station, a symbol of the community's link with the outside world, to monumental landmarks, the epitome in hotel design. Such CPR stations graced the country from St-Johns, Newfoundland in the east coast, to Vancouver, British Columbia in the west coast.

It was evident that both Edward and William Maxwell were inspired in design by their education and travel abroad, particularly the United States and Europe. Each had a distinct and recognizable style of architectural composition and when they collaborated on projects, they created a unique collection of Canadian buildings that stand as a testament of a prosperous era.



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