Ramsay Traquair

Ramsay Traquair, architect and educator (b at Edinburgh, Scot 29 Mar 1874; d at Guysborough, NS 26 Aug 1952).

Ramsay Traquair

Ramsay Traquair, architect and educator (b at Edinburgh, Scot 29 Mar 1874; d at Guysborough, NS 26 Aug 1952). As third Macdonald Professor of Architecture at McGill (1914-38), Traquair led pioneer studies in the history of French Canadian building styles, culminating in The Old Architecture of Quebec (1947), that were crucial in awakening interest in the province's distinctive architectural heritage.

Son of Ramsay Heatley Traquair, an eminent Scottish scientist, and Phoebe Anna (née Moss) Traquair, a leading artist in the Arts and Crafts movement, Traquair apprenticed under S.H. CAPPER and worked for both Robert Lorimer and Sydney Mitchell in Edinburgh before setting up on his own in 1905. His major works are the First Church of Christ Scientist in Edinburgh and Skirling House in Peebleshire. He also lectured at Edinburgh's Royal College of Art, taking charge of the day program in architecture in 1908.

A year spent studying the historic buildings of Scotland for the National Art Survey (1896) and important research on medieval antiquities in Greece and Constantinople in 1905 and 1909 provided ideal training for the systematic study of old Québec architecture that Traquair and his students carried out after he succeeded his longtime friend Percy NOBBS as director of the McGill School of Architecture. Expanding on the sketching and measuring of old buildings - student work that Nobbs had initiated as early as 1904 - Traquair published 22 reports between 1925 and 1939 in The Journal, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. Reprints of these and certain others, known as McGill University Publications Series XIII (Art and Architecture), became the chief source of information on the old architecture of Québec in the following decade.

In addition to his writings on architecture and ornamental woodcarving, Traquair published The Old Silver of Quebec (1940), although his book on Québec furniture was never published. A Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (1921), Traquair received an Hon MA from McGill (1923) and an Hon D Litt from the Université de Montréal (1948).


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