John Bland

John Bland, emeritus professor of architecture at McGill, distinguished architect, town planner, architectural historian and author as well as one of the foremost educators of architects in Canada (b at Lachine, Qué 13 Nov 1911; d in Montreal March 26, 2002).

John Bland, emeritus professor of architecture at McGill, distinguished architect, town planner, architectural historian and author as well as one of the foremost educators of architects in Canada (b at Lachine, Qué 13 Nov 1911; d in Montreal March 26, 2002). He graduated with honours from McGill in 1933, and then studied town planning in London, Eng. Shortly after his return to Canada, he was appointed executive secretary and, two years later, in 1941, director of the McGill School of Architecture, a position he held until 1972.

Bland was the first Canadian-born director of the McGill School and influential in its rebuilding at a very crucial period just prior to the outbreak of the WWII, when enrolment was low. He reorganized the school in accordance with contemporary design-teaching principles, introduced the first Canadian graduate programs in architecture and expanded it to accommodate the great influx of post-war students. Over the years many of his students have become known internationally not only as practising architects but also as educators, researchers and writers. In 1953 he was named Macdonald Professor of Architecture and held the chair until his retirement.

Bland served on the council of the then Province of Quebec Association of Architects (1942-54) and became its president in 1953. He also served on the council of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) (1950-54). He was elected to the RAIC College of Fellows in 1954 and to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1967. His contribution was invaluable on several commissions established to safeguard the historical and cultural heritage of Canada.

In private practice, the partnership Rother, Bland, Trudeau won 1st prize in a national competition for the design of the Ottawa City Hall, 1957-59, and was responsible for the design of several large projects including the Jeanne Mance Housing Development in Montreal, 1957-58, and the new town of Port Cartier, Québec, 1958-59. In subsequent years, under new partnerships with Roy LeMoyne, Anthony Shine and at various times with Gordon Edwards and Michel Lacroix, Bland's firm designed distinguished buildings such as Chancellor Day Hall, McGill, 1965; the Labyrinth for Expo 67; a library for the University of Windsor, 1970; and a concert hall, Pollack Hall, for McGill, 1973.

Bland wrote books on housing, community planning and the history of Canadian architecture, and coauthored several exemplary planning reports on Canadian cities years before planning legislation was introduced. In 1987 he became honorary curator of McGill's Canadian Architecture Collection and, for a number of years, continued to write and lecture on Canadian architecture. Honours accorded John Bland include the Médaille du mérite de l'AAPQ (1970), a Massey Medal for the Ottawa City Hall, an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Carleton University (1975) and the RAIC Gold Medal (1985).


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Further Reading

  • I. Murray and N. Schoenauer, eds, John Bland at Eighty: A Tribute (1991).

  • I. Murray and N. Schoenauer, eds, John Bland at Eighty: A Tribute (1991).