The Canadian Architecture Collection (CAC) was established by Professor Emeritus John Bland, Director of the McGill School of Architecture for 31 years. As one of the McGill University Libraries' Special Collections, it is an important resource for architecture and urban planning research. Its mandate is to document the work of past and present architects who have studied and/or taught at the McGill University School of Architecture and Urban planning. Through photographs, drawings, and corollary documentation, the CAC also seeks to represent the evolution of the McGill campus, the city of Montreal, and the architectural heritage of Quebec and Canada.
In addition to supporting primarily the teaching and research requirements of the McGill School of Architecture and Urban Planning, the CAC assists other departments within McGill, and the architecture and art history departments in the region. The CAC also provides a service to practising architects, art and architecture historians, and independent researchers.
The John Bland Canadian Architecture Collection (CAC) is one of the largest special collections in the Rare Books and Special Collections Divison of McGill University Libraries. The origins can be traced to the measured drawings and photographs of Quebec buildings made by Ramsay Traquair during his tenure as the Macdonald Professor of Architecture at McGill University (1913-39). The Traquair bequest provided an impetus for donations of other architectural archives, particularly those connected with the University, the city of Montreal, and the Province of Quebec. In the post-war years, two fonds, of major importance were integrated into the Canadian Architecture Collection. In 1954, the archive of the architectural practice of Edward and W.S. Maxwell, and in 1970, the archive of Percy Nobbs and his associates. Since 1969, the Canadian Architecture Collection has been housed in the Nobbs' extension to the Redpath Library Building.
To the Honorary Curator of the collection, Professor Emeritus John Bland, belongs the credit for uniting and preserving a core collection of great significance. Thanks to the collaborative support of the McGill School of Architecture, and the Library Administration, this core collection was gradually organized, described and, as of 1987, made accessible to students, researchers, and architects. Funding from SSHRC, and McGill University, made possible a series of scholarly guides to the major CAC archives: Percy Nobbs and His Associates (1986); Edward and W.S. Maxwell (1987); Ramsay Traquair and His Successors (1987); and John Archibald and His Associates (1990). The Libraries of Edward and W.S. Maxwell (1991) provides an introduction to, and a bibliography of, two impressive personal collections preserved as part of the Maxwell archive. Today, the Canadian Architecture Collection holds over 60 different fonds. In addition to the ones mentioned above, the Collection houses archival materials from the architectural practices of A.T. Taylor, R. Findlay, K.G. Rea, A.T.J. Durnford, H.L. Fetherstonhaugh, A.F. Dunlop, J.W. Hopkins, P.J.Turner, John Bland, and many others. The Canadian Architecture Collection also received important donations from two internationally known graduates of the McGill School of Architecture: Arthur Erickson and Moshe Safdie. Erickson's Middle East projects and Safdie's entire practice are the subject of both print and electronic publications developed by CAC.