William Thomas: Architect
Carleton University Press
Glenn McArthur and Annie Szamosi
9 X 11 inches, 150 pagesArchives of Canadian Art (& Design)
AMONG ARCHITECT-HISTORIANS, William Thomas is recognized as "one of the founders of the Canadian architectural profession." Thomas's work in Birmingham and Leamington Spa, England would have ensured him a modest place in English architectural history. However, it was for the mark he made on the fledgling communities of central and eastern Canada that he is best remembered. His prodigious output during a seventeen-year career in Canada, dating from 1843 to 1860, included over one hundred buildings, many of which are still standing today.
The significance of Thomas's contribution cannot be overestimated. His buildings became the foci of towns, housing the communities' religious, governmental, educational, commercial and cultural activities. In drawings, prints and photographs of this period depicting Toronto, Quebec City, Hamilton, Halifax, London, Guelph, Chatham, and Niagara-on-the-Lake, we can see the direct and indirect effects of Thomas's work. His church spires pierce the sky, his public buildings dominate town blocks, often his stores are the most fashionable places to shop, and his residential designs are artfully placed within their settings.
Glenn McArthur and Annie Szamosi's fresh and informative text surveys all of Thomas's known and attributed works. McArthur's superb photographs and watercolours are complemented by contemporary views, old photographs of demolished buildings, and original sketches. This publication is of special interest not only for the practising architect or historian but, with its strong visuals and informal style, accessible and entertaining for anyone eager to celebrate our architectural heritage.
"The history of architecture has become increasingly important to contemporary architects. New architecture is beginning to see the simultaneous development of critical regionalism and critical globalism. This work on one of Canada's most important 19th-century architects will serve to deepen our understanding of the past, to support a collective memory and to render a sense of place."
"One of our architectural giants of the nineteenth century, William Thomas left behind landmarks from Ontario to Nova Scotia. This book is a long-overdue look at his career here and in England before he emigrated."
—Stephen Otto, Historian
"This vivid portrait of an architect and his times is supported by the tree pillars of solid research, lively writing, and handsome graphic design. William Thomas has been celebrated in splendid style. We can all join in."
—Adele Freedman, Architectural Critic
Glenn McArthur's interest in William Thomas was developed while attending the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, where, in order to pay for his schooling, he worked as a night guard at the Don Jail. Those long and occasionally quiet nights were spent patrolling the rather gloomy corridors, avoiding as much as possible the nocturnal inhabitants, including inmates, or sketching the architectural details of the building.
A deep impression of the architect's work was instilled in him. This led to a line of enquiry that has taken twelve years of research, writing, photographing and illustrating Thomas's buildings on both sides of the Atlantic.
Co-author Annie Szamosi is a freelance writer who has been an editor at various publishing houses in New York, and now works on writing assignments in a variety of fields.