Fonds 45 - Ramsay Traquair fonds

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Ramsay Traquair fonds

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  • 1889-1949 (Creation)
    Traquair, Ramsay, 1874-1952

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Physical description

approximately 564 drawings
7 m of textual records and graphic materials

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Ramsay Traquair (1874-1952) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the first child of Ramsay Heatley Traquair, a distinguished scientist and curator of the Natural History collection of the Royal Museum in Edinburgh and the Irish-born Phoebe Anna Traquair, a talented painter, illustrator and decorative artist closely connected with the Arts and Crafts Movement. Traquair came to Canada in 1913, armed with a well rounded Edinburgh education (Edinburgh University and the School of Applied Arts, now the Royal College of Art), a teaching experience at the Royal College of Arts where, in 1908 he became head of its newly established day course in Architecture, and a series of local apprenticeships and professional associations, first with Stewart Henbest Capper (1889-1925) and later with Sir Robert Lorimer (1864-1929), Arthur George Sydney Mitchell (1856-1930) and George Wilson (1845-1912). His own Edinburgh practice, which he set up in 1905, was brief; his most notable buildings being the First Church of Christ Scientist (1911) on Inverleith Terrace and the Skirling House for Lord Carmichael of Skirling in Peeblesshire (1908). When, in 1912, Traquair applied for the Macdonald Chair in Architecture at McGill University, he promised “to regard teaching as my life’s work with only so much practice as is necessary to keep in touch with realities.” The University, which had previously engaged in skirmishes with the energetic Percy Nobbs over the right to combine teaching with architectural practice, was eager to hire him. Traquair kept his word; the McGill University flag and its library bookplate are the only public reminders, on campus, of his talent as a designer.

Custodial history

The items were originally deposited in the Redpath Library by Traquair in 1939.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of professional papers, architectural and silver artifact photographs, drawings, teaching materials, research files on historical buildings in Québec, and heraldry designs for Boy Scouts. The bulk of the fonds consists of professional papers and three-dimensional objects (1889-1949). These have been arranged into twelve categories based on function: notes by Traquair for architecture curriculum courses; personal items of Traquair; signed notes of Gordon Antoine Neilson; signed notes of Marius Barbeau; Boy Scouts' flag design and correspondence; drawer list of drawings of French-Canadian architecture as arranged by Traquair; source clippings/publications; student sketchbooks; historic notes on individual places; publications of Traquair; publications by others working in the field or allied fields; line blocks. 14 original drawings in the fonds date from 1901-1921 and include watercolours and drawings of Egypt and India as well as details and sketches of churches in England and Italy. There are also approximately 550 measured drawings of historic buildings in Montréal, Québec City and elsewhere in the province made by Traquair and his students. Approximately 5 m of photographs portray landscapes, historical buildings, furnishings, and rural people at work in Québec; some copies of historical prints and photographs are also included. The historical architecture of Québec is also the subject of 1 m of plastic negatives, and a further 40 cm shows old Québec silverware.

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  • English

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Finding aids

Ramsay Traquair and His Successors: A Guide to the Archive. 2 vols. Montreal: Canadian Architecture Collection, Blackader-Lauterman Library of Architecture and Art, McGill University, 1987.

Associated materials

Ramsay Traquair Digital Archive contains digitized architectural and silver artifact photographs, as well as selections of Traquair's drawings, teaching tools, and heraldry designs.

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