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.

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