Great Canadian Architects: Francis Mawson Rattenbury

British Columbia Legislature Buildings in Victoria, British Columbia (Photo Credit: Ryan Bushby)

British Columbia Legislature Buildings in Victoria, British Columbia (Photo Credit: Ryan Bushby)

One of British Columbia’s most celebrated institutional architects was a man who inspired many things away from architecture including high end London plays starring famous actors, a legal case taught to many young lawyers to this day, and a number of novels. His life was filled with almost every kind of sensationalism that could inspire Hollywood filmmakers for years to come: lying about his credentials, illicit sexual affairs, dizzying fame and recognition, alcoholism, the fall from Grace and, finally, murder. Who was this man? Francis Mawson Rattenbury created such architectural wonders in British Columbia as the Empress Hotel and the BC Legislature Building in Victoria; the Court Houses in Vancouver, Nanaimo and Nelson plus numerous other buildings in the province. Before Arthur Erickson, another famed BC architect who began his illustrious career in the 1960s, it was Rattenbury who set the bar of excellence for institutional building design in British Columbia. However, for some, his enduring legacy is undoubtedly his complicated and very tragic personal life.

Continue reading

Relaunch of History to the People

Hello Everyone,

After a rather lengthy absence, we are proud to be back to bring you more stories and features about Canadian heritage and history! We will re-post some of your favourites from the old site including the series Great Canadian Architects, Traditional Family Recipes and Canadian Castles. We are also working on some new ideas such as features on Canadian military history, Canadian cultural heritage landscapes from a foreign perspective, technological history and built heritage from across Canada.

A special thanks goes out to Pierre who lent his expertise and assistance as well as to Craig at Netfirms in helping to get this site back up and running again!

If you have any story ideas you’d like to see featured here, please leave a comment or send us an email.

It is great to be back and we look forward to posting new stories in the months to come as well as hearing your comments!

Cheers,
Laura
Administrator, History to the People

Burrard Dry Docks: The Ships That Clarence Built

Last of the Victory ships being built in early 1945. The view is looking south across Burrand Inlet to downtown Vancouver (Photo Credit: NVMA 27-2289)

Last of the Victory ships being built in early 1945. The view is looking south across Burrand Inlet to downtown Vancouver (Photo Credit: NVMA 27-2289)

Much has been made in recent years about the war effort on the home front in Canada from 1939 to 1945. Stories are now emerging about war bond fundraising efforts on the Prairies, Ontario hospitals training new nurses to specifically serve overseas and a number of “Rosie the Riveter” type recollections in the ammunitions factories all across Canada. With the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy having passed in 2010, more home front stories are now emerging to get the public attention they so richly deserve. One example of the home front effort is the stories of Canadian men and women worked side by side in the east and west coast shipyards during the war years to build naval destroyers, corvettes, and supply ships. One such place that churned out a large number of those supply ships was the Burrard Dry Dock in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

Continue reading