Fonds MG 3089 - Ramsay Traquair fonds

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Ramsay Traquair fonds

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CA MUA MG 3089

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  • approximately 1911-1940 (Creation)
    Traquair, Ramsay, 1874-1952

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Physical description

36 cm of textual records

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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.

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Scope and content

Traquair's papers largely concern his work as a lecturer. School of Architecture lectures in architectural history cover the classical, mediaeval and modern periods (ca 1935-1936), while those on architectural ornament are largely devoted to lettering. Miscellaneous lectures, about 30 in number, were delivered between about 1924 and 1937 to various audiences, such as school children, extension students and members of art and architectural associations. They deal with architectural history, architectural principles both aesthetic and social, and other art forms (painting, carpets, heraldry etc.)

Material relating to Traquair's publications includes drafts of about 15 articles on many of the same topics as the lectures described above, and stemming from the same period. A special series of notes and manuscripts, together with some correspondence, illustrates Traquair's research on Québec arts.

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  • English

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General note

The lectures' numbers (L1, L2, etc.), as well as the related publications' numbers (P1, P2, etc.) and the scrapbooks' numbers (S1, S2, etc.) same as in " 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.

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