Spence-Sales, Harold, 1907-2004

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Spence-Sales, Harold, 1907-2004

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Harold John Author Spence-Sales was born in Lahore, India on October 22nd 1907; he died in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on March 12th 2004. He has become recognized as one of Canada’s most important and influential urban and town planners.

Spence-Sales was home schooled as a child and teenager. He went on to study Architecture at Victoria College in Wellington, New Zealand and The Town Planning Architectural Association in London, England. While studying in London, Spence-Sales met friend, colleague and professional partner John Bland. After completing his studies, Spence-Sales had a successful planning and architectural business in London England. During the Second World War, he designed several sites and munition-material factories for the war effort, and went on to play a role in redeveloping areas of London that were damaged during the Second World War as well.

In 1946, Spence-Sales relocated to Montreal, Quebec, and took up a post at McGill University as a professor of architecture; he would teach at McGill until 1970. While teaching at McGill, Spence-Sales created a graduate program for town planning; it was the first town planning program in Canada. While teaching, he worked on urban development and town planning projects across Quebec and Canada. Between the years 1946-1970, Spence-Sales also became an important figure in developing urban planning legislation in Canada.

After retiring from McGill, Spence-Sales moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, with Mary Filer (1920-2016), a Canadian artist of great renown. After moving to Vancouver, Spence-Sales gravitated away from teaching and began a full time career as an urban and town planning consultant throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He worked on projects across Canada during these years, but he primarily worked on projects in British Columbia.

During the 1990s, Harold Spence-Sales focused less on professional aspirations and turned to personal pursuits. He actively curated art, dabbled in photography, sculpted and created museum exhibitions often about urban landscapes and architectural formations. Harold Spence-Sales also created exhibitions for his personal art gallery and collaborated on projects with Mary Filer.


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