Findlay, Robert, 1859-1951

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Findlay, Robert, 1859-1951

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Scottish-Canadian architect Robert Findlay was born in Inverness, Scotland. He began training for his profession at age 17 in his hometown (with John Rhind ’s firm), followed by work in Glasgow (as an assistant to John Burnet). He immigrated to Montreal in 1885 and started working with Alexander Dunlop; he assisted with designs for the St. James Methodist Church at 463 St. Catherine Street West. In 1887 he both married Jane Ameilia Fleming and won a competition for a design for the expansion of the first Sun Life building (predecessor of the building on Dorchester Square). Apparently impressed by the young architect’s talents, Robert Macaulay, president of Sun Life, hired him to design a home for himself. Findlay’s career took off, first in a partnership and then with his own firm; he began getting important commissions for mansions and large homes in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile sector and in nearby Westmount. Eventually he produced designs for about 30 homes in Westmount alone, including residences for the influential Molson and Bronfman families and for his own growing family (at 419/421 Lansdowne Avenue –they lived in the southern half of the semi-detached house). In 1898 he designed the Westmount Public Library, the first of a number of Westmount municipal buildings he created; it was the first municipal library building in the province and was built to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. There followed a commission in 1899 for Westmount’s original Victoria Hall, a public gathering place which would burn down in 1924. He created the children’s addition to the Westmount library with a separate entrance in 1910. His son Frank joined his firm in 1913 and helped him with the work for Westmount City Hall in 1922, followed by another library extension in 1924. Like the library, many of his designs featured “Queen Anne” style towers, arches and large windows. The Quebec Association of Architects awarded him their first Medal of Merit in 1938. He retired in 1941 and spent the rest of his life in the home on Lansdowne Avenue.


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Robert and Francis R. Findlay (1913-1941)

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Robert and Francis R. Findlay

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Findlay, Robert, 1859-1951

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nr 97043580

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