Alexander Cowper Hutchison

Alexander Cowper Hutchison, architect (born 2 April 1838 in Montreal, QC; died  1 January 1922 in Montreal). Hutchison was one of Montreal's most prolific and prestigious architects (see Architecture). He epitomized the generation of  self-taught men who shaped the city during the second half of the 19th century. He is recognized for several architectural achievements including the Redpath Museum and Montreal’s City Hall, which he designed with architect Henri-Maurice Perrault.

Photograph of Alexander Cowper Hutchison

Training and Early Career

Alexander Cowper Hutchison trained with his father as a stonemason. He acquired additional training at the Mechanics Institute of Montreal where he would eventually teach ( see Mechanics’ Hall (Montréal)). Early in his career as a stonemason, Hutchison supervised the cut-stonework on Montreal's Christ Church Cathedral and the East Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

In 1865, Hutchison began pursuing a career as an architect in Montreal (see Architecture). In 1876, he and Alexander Danton Steele founded the architectural firm Hutchison and Steele. In 1898, Hutchison, his son and son-in-law would establish the firm Hutchison and Wood, which would later be renamed Hutchison, Wood and Miller.


Hutchison and his architectural firms are associated with several building projects in the city of Montreal. With architect Henri-Maurice Perrault, Hutchison designed Montreal’s City Hall (1872-1878). Hutchison’s firm, Hutchison and Steele also designed the Redpath Museum (1880-1882). Hutchison deserves credit for the careful detailing that characterized the firm's output, including the Redpath Museum, testimony no doubt to his apprentice years as a craftsman-builder.

Musée Redpath

The firm, Hutchison and Steele also gained an international reputation as ice-palace designers. In 1883, Hutchison prepared designs for the ice palaces of the Montreal Winter Carnival (see Winter Festivals). Following this success, Hutchison was hired to design an ice palace for the city of Saint-Paul in Minnesota in 1886.


In addition to his work as a stonemason and architect, Hutchison participated in several professional associations. He was one of the founding members of the architectural association, l’Association des architectes de la province de Québec (now known as the Ordre des architectes du Québec). He became president of the Association in 1896.  Hutchison was also a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Further Reading

  • Susan D. Bronson, “The Design of the Peter Redpath Museum at McGill University: The Genesis, Expression and Evolution of an Idea about Natural History.” Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada vol. 17, no. 3 (1992).
  • Rhodri W. Liscombe, “The Peter Redpath Museum, an Architectural analysis.” Fontanus vol. 1 (1988).