Canadian Architecture 101

Canadian Architecture 101


Canada derived its name from the Huron-Iroquois Kanata, meaning a village or settlement. In 1791 the Constitutional or Canada Act created Upper Canada and Lower Canada. In 1841 they were joined to form the Province of Canada. By 1867 the British North America Act united the Province of Canada (Ontario and Québec) with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to form the Dominion of Canada. Manitoba was added in 1870 and British Columbia joined the federation in 1871. It was then that Canada's motto "A Mari usque ad Mare" (From Sea to Sea) could be applied, since the dominion now truly extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. Shortly thereafter, Prince Edward Island (1873), Yukon (1898), Alberta and Saskatchewan (1905) formed part of the Dominion, too. The last regions to join Canada were Labrador and Newfoundland in 1949.

To unify a large country such as Canada, the railway was a paramount endeavor that enabled communication from coast to coast. The Canadian Northern Railway, incorporated in 1899, grew into a 16,093 km transcontinental railway system that eventually became known as the Canadian National Railway. The other railway company was the Canadian Pacific Railway, incorporated in 1881. Under the stewardship of William C. Van Horne, construction through the Rockies and across the Canadian Shield was completed and the line became operational in 1885. The Canadian Pacific Railway greatly spurred the tourist industry, and the international development of hotels, steamships and airlines. An impressive series of mountain hotels were built linking various Canadian cities and showcasing new architecture.

Historically, Canadian architecture developed from European traditions, first through the French settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries, the British in the 19th century, and more recently through the conveying of American and international examples. The images represented in the Building Canada site showcase some of the influences beginning with examples of religious architecture dating from the French regime, and military architecture from the British period, to recent works by Canadian-trained architects. Throughout the collection, images of houses, churches, and commercial buildings highlight the use of traditional and innovative building techniques in what is today known as Canadian architecture.

With a strong emphasis on vernacular or people's architecture, the images of Building Canada include structures from coast to coast and outline the various regional trends in the nation's architecture. In addition, Building Canada also highlights the work of some of Canada's more notable architects including John Ostell, François Baillargé, Percy Nobbs, Ernest Cormier, Bruce Price, Edward and William S. Maxwell, Ron Thom, Arthur Erickson, Moshe Safdie, and Douglas Cardinal, to name only a few.

Tips on how to search the collection of images from Building Canada.

To ensure that the maximum benefits are gained from using the John Bland collection of images, each image has been placed into one of eight categories. These categories represent the variety of building types found in Canadian architecture. The categories are represented by the icons below. The icons are repeated at the bottom of each provincial page. To search for a specific type of building, for example, commercial buildings in New Brunswick, first go to the New Brunswick page and then click on the icon for commercial buildings.
commercial cultural educational governmental religious residential transportation view search
Commercial Cultural Educational Governmental Religious Residential Transportation View General search

map of canada alberta  sasketchewan manitoba ontario BC Yukon/NWT Quebec Newfoundland NB PEI  NS Yukon/NWT Quebec Newfoundland PEI NS BC Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba Ontario NB
Building Canada Pop Quiz Overview Glossary
Building Canada Pop Quiz Overview Glossary