George Browne

George Browne, architect (b at Belfast, Ire 5 Nov 1811; d at Montréal 19 Nov 1885). He created some of 19th-century Canada's finest buildings.

Kingston City Hall
Kingston City Hall represented a superb example of civic architecture in a neoclassical style (1843-44, George Browne architect) (photo by James H. Marsh).

George Browne, architect (b at Belfast, Ire 5 Nov 1811; d at Montréal 19 Nov 1885). He created some of 19th-century Canada's finest buildings. In the 1830s he designed houses in Québec City and Montréal. With the union of Upper and Lower Canada (1841) and the establishment of the new capital at Kingston, Browne (then a government architect) did considerable work, including many private, commercial and civic buildings. Mostly in local limestone, they show a sophisticated handling of mass and texture. Their style, which might be called "heroic primitive," expresses the triumphant character of a society just emerging from the pioneering stage.

The finest example is Kingston City Hall, but the Kingston branch of the Bank of Montreal (1844), which may be the earliest example of a large-scale branch bank building in Canada, also survives (as the Frontenac Apartments). Browne moved with the capital to Montréal in 1844, where his splendid Second-Empire-style Molsons Bank 1864-66 (now Bank of Montreal) survives.

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