Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

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George W. Northwood

Biography

Noted architect George Northwood played a significant role within Winnipeg design community during the first half of the twentieth century and was associated with the development of some of the city’s most iconic structures. Son of William Northwood, George Northwood was born in 1877 in Ottawa; his academic training began at the Ottawa College Institute and culminated with a degree in architecture from McGill University in Montreal. In 1900 Northwood entered the field with position with the offices of K. Arnoldi in Ottawa. The following year, while still in the nation’s capitol, Northwood partnered with architect Werner Ernest Noffke (1878-1964) to create the firm of Northwood and Noffke, an association which lasted for seven years. In 1905, Northwood left the city to move to Winnipeg, where he established his own practice. The following year Northwood married Augusta “Gussie” Simpson of Thorold, Ontario; their later residence was at 315 Academy Road. Amongst a large number of early works by the architect are the seven-storey Ryan Block (44 Princess Street, 1906; with William Blair), a three-bay, red brick structure reminiscent of the Chicago School; the neo-classical Northern Crown Bank (654 Portage Avenue, 1908, with R. Watson; demolished in 1983); the brick Lancaster Apartments (411 Stradbrook Avenue, 1909); the buff coloured Richards and Brown Warehouse (132 James Avenue, 1911); the five-storey, brick Western Glove Works building (321 McDermot Avenue, 1912); the Tudor style Whitla residence (151 Yale Avenue, 1912); and the Charles W. Gordon residence (54 West Gate, 1913). The latter of these, now home to the University Women’s Club and generally referred to as the Ralph Connor House – a reference to the Reverend Gordon’s novel-writing pseudonym – is an imposing, three-storey home of red brick and limestone with a somewhat Elizabethan countenance. During this era Northwood also was responsible for a number of projects on Winnipeg’s prestigious Wellington Crescent, amongst them the McDonald residence (555 Wellington Crescent, 1909-1910; demolished 1951); the brick and half-timbered Tudor Wellington Apartments (264-276 Wellington Crescent, 1910); and the Richards residence (638 Wellington Crescent, 1911). Another noteworthy Northwood work of this busy period was the second St. Charles Country Club, a grand and rambling two-and-a-half storey structure of 1913 (Portage Avenue near Sturgeon Creek). This hectic phase of construction was crowned by Northwood’s involvement in the design of Winnipeg’s Pantages Theatre (180 Market Avenue) which he – alongside Marcus Priteca – planned in 1913.

With the 1914 commencement of the First World War in Europe, Northwood abandoned his architectural career and traveled overseas to join the Canadian 8th Battalion. For his service in the war – including a period of capture by German forces in 1915 – the architect was awarded the Military Cross and was named a major. Northwood returned to Winnipeg in 1918; it was after this point that he partnered with Raymond Carey to establish the firm of Northwood & Carey. While this period was not one of nearly the furious growth that the city had witnessed before the war, Northwood’s work continued to come at a strong clip. Amongst the high-profile buildings with which he was associated from this era are: the elaborate, steel framed, terracotta-wrapped Paris Building (259 Portage Avenue, 1915-17) which was once described as Canada’s “most elegantly clothed steel frame skyscraper” and the heavily decorative Union Bank Savings Annex (500 Main Street, 1921). Notably, Northwood maintained an office in the latter building from the early 1920s until the 1950s. The partnership of Northwood & Carey was not a lengthy one and came to a close only a few years after its inception. At this point Northwood briefly forging his own practice, which was responsible for such buildings as the composed but eclectic Heubach Residence (203  Park Boulevard, 1923).

In the mid-1920s Northwood once again joined together with another architect, this time the former Englishman Cyril William Upton Chivers (1879-1969). Chivers and Northwood had previously briefly partnered in 1905 to create – with Northwood’s Ottawa partner Werner Noffke – the short lived firm of Northwood Noffke and Chivers. Amongst the many renowned structures which this new partnership created with Northwood at the helm are the iconic, Tudor, Assiniboine Park Pavilion – a three-storey block topped by a soaring tower. Other notable works by the Northwood and Chivers are the neo-Gothic limestone churches All Saints Anglican Church (175 Colony Street, 1926) and St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church (255 Stafford Street, 1928). Limestone was also the material of choice for a building which signalled the architect’s move toward a gradually modernizing aesthetic approach: the Canadian Wheat Board Building (423 Main Street, 1928). A similarly contemporary manner appears at the firm’s brick and stone Canadian General Electric Building (265 Notre Dame Avenue, 1930); the refined buff brick and stone Women’s Tribute Memorial Lodge (200 Woodlawn Street, 1931); the clean-lined limestone Winnipeg Civic Auditorium (200 Vaughan Street, 1932; with Semmens, Pratt and Ross); and the Dominion Public Building (269 Main Street, 1935-36). This set of buildings essentially represents the majority of architecture in Winnipeg which could be called Art Deco; notably, the latter two came as government sponsored projects designed to spur economic growth during the Depression. During this era an increasing proportion of the firm’s work came out of the city, in such commissions as the T. Eaton Company Department Store, 101st Street at 102nd Avenue, Edmonton, 1938 – an Art Moderne, ground-hugging, two-storey structure of stone. Northwood and Chivers continued as a practice into the period following the Second World War. This latter era saw a number of figures who would later have a large impact on the city’s architectural history come through the firm’s offices, including Lawrence Green and R. E. Moore. Throughout this time the original partners bowed out, with the senior Chiver’s son John Chivers taking over, alongside new partner John Casey; the firm ended in the late 1950s.

George Northwood was respected within his profession and President of the Manitoba Association of Architects in 1923; in 1936 he was named a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. Beyond architecture, Northwood was engaged in a number of business and other ventures throughout his life. During the era prior to the First World War he possessed an interest in the Manitoba Linseed Oil Company and National Securities Company. During the Depression (from 1931 to 1933) he served as Dominion superintendent of unemployment and farm relief. The architect was also a Chairman of the Sanatorium Board of Manitoba; President of the Manitoba Club during the years 1931-1932; and, later, President of the Northern Canadian Mortgage Company. Northwood died at Winnipeg on 15 December 1959 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.

Projects

  • Roman Catholic Separate School, Ottawa, 1902
  • Methodist Church, Tenth Avenue, Ottawa, 1903
  • High School, Rockland, Ontario, 1905
  • Charles Ogilvy Department Store, Rideau Street at Nicholas Street, Ottawa, 1906-07
  • Codville Residence, Daly Avenue, Ottawa, 1907
  • Ryan Block, 44 Princess Street, 1906
  • Northern Crown Bank, 654 Portage Avenue, 1908
  • Manitoba Linseed Oil Mills Company Factory, 1908
  • Dominion Bank, Deloraine, Manitoba, 1908
  • Crescent Court Apartments, Gertrude Avenue at Hugo Street, 1908-09
  • Lake of the Woods Yacht Club, Kenora, Ontario, 1909
  • Lancaster Apartments, 411 Stradbrook Avenue, 1909
  • Kirkland Block Apartments, Carlton Street at Qu'Appelle Street, 1909
  • McDonald residence, 555 Wellington Crescent, 1909-1910
  • Wellington Apartments, 264-276 Wellington Crescent, 1910
  • Dominion Bank, Notre Dame Avenue at Sherbrook Street, 1910
  • Thomas Kelly & Son Warehouse, Notre Dame Avenue at Princess Street, 1910
  • Apartment block for Sharpe & Machray, Main Street (north of the CPR Tracks), 1910
  • Phoenix Building, Donald Street at Princess Street, 1910
  • Columbia Block Apartments, Sherbrook Street at William Avenue, 1910
  • Bannatyne Apartments, Bannatyne Avenue at Kate Street, 1910
  • Richards residence, 638 Wellington Crescent, 1911
  • Dominion Bank, 8th Avenue South East, Calgary, 1911
  • Richards and Brown Warehouse, 132 James Avenue, 1911
  • Western Glove Works, 321 McDermot Avenue, 1912
  • Whitla Residence, 151 Yale Avenue, 1912
  • Notre Dame Investment Block, Notre Dame Avenue, 1912
  • Apartment block for J. Bergman, Smith Street, 1912
  • Bank Of Ottawa, Main Street near Portage Avenue, 1912
  • Charles W. Gordon residence, 54 West Gate, 1913
  • St. Charles Country Club, Portage Avenue near Sturgeon Creek, 1913
  • Bank of Toronto, Glenavon, Saskatchewan, 1913
  • Bank of Toronto, Montmarte, Saskatchewan, 1913
  • Bank of Toronto, Lafleche, Saskatchewan, 1913
  • Bank of Toronto, Meyronne, Saskatchewan, 1913
  • Moss House addition, 218  Roslyn Road, 1913
  • Vansittart Apartments, Stradbrook Avenue at Scott Street, 1913
  • Pantages Theatre, 180 Market Avenue, 1913-14
  • Office building for Joseph C. McGreevy, Donald Street, 1914
  • Bank of Toronto, Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, 1919
  • Manitoba Department of Public Works Laundry building, Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, 1919
  • Manitoba Department of Public Works Laundry building, Selkirk, Manitoba, 1919
  • Marshall Wells Company Limited Warehouse, Market Avenue at Rorie Street, 1919
  • Soldier's Pavilion and Receiving Hospital, Selkirk, Manitoba, 1921
  • Bank of Toronto, Stettler, Alberta, 1921
  • Union Bank Savings Annex, 500 Main Street, 1921
  • Residence for Robert A. Rogers, Nassau Street, 1922
  • Heubach Residence, 203 Park Boulevard, 1923
  • West Kildonan Priory School, 1924
  • William A. Smith residence, 111 Park Boulevard, 1925
  • St. Boniface Distillery, 1925
  • Manitoba Cartage Company Limited, Higgins Avenue at Lizzie Street,1926
  • All Saints Anglican Church, 175 Colony Street, 1926
  • St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, 255 Stafford Street, 1928
  • Canadian Wheat Board Building, 423 Main Street, 1928
  • Provencher Collegiate Institute addition, Cathedrale Avenue at St. Jean Baptiste Street, 1929
  • Robert H. Smith Public School, 315 Oak Street, 1929 (demolished 1992)
  • Singer Sewing Machine Company building, Portage Avenue near Vaughan Street, 1929
  • Great West Saddlery Building alterations, Market Avenue, 1929
  • Assiniboine Park Pavilion, 1929
  • Imperial Bank, Invermere, British Columbia, 1929
  • Hall Building, Howe Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1929
  • Canadian General Electric Building, 265 Notre Dame Avenue, 1930
  • Women’s Tribute Memorial Lodge, 200 Woodlawn Street, 1931
  • Queenston School, 245 Queenston Street,1931
  • Winnipeg Civic Auditorium, 200 Vaughan Street, 1932
  • High School, Kenora, Ontario, 1931
  • Public school, Ninette, Manitoba, 1932
  • Bank of Toronto, 420 Academy Road, 1933
  • Balmoral Hall (Riverbend School For Girls), 630 Westminster Avenue, 1934
  • Dominion Public Building, 269 Main Street, 1935-36
  • Manitoba Cold Storage Warehouse addition, Argyle Street at Higgins Avenue, 1937
  • T. Eaton Company Department Store, 101st Street at 102nd Avenue, Edmonton, 1938
  • Federal Department of Munitions & Supplies Engine Testing Shop, 1940
  • Manitoba Telephone System Radio Studio, Brandon, Manitoba, 1941
  • John Deer Plow Company Office and Warehouse, Livingston Street, Yorkton, Saskatchewan, 1941
  • Medical Arts Building, Graham Avenue at Kennedy Street, 1945
  • Winnipeg General Hospital, Bannatyne Avenue at Emily Street, Maternity Pavilion, 1948-50
  • Royal Hotel addition, Flin Flon, Manitoba, 1950
  • Bank of Montreal, 676 Main Street, 1950
  • Imperial Bank of Canada, 739 Henderson Highway, 1950

Sources

  • “Untitled.” Evening Journal. [Ottawa] 19 March 1904.
  • “Untitled.” Evening Journal. [Ottawa] 12 May 1906.
  • “Manitoba Linseed Oil Mills Company.” Manitoba Free Press. 22 February 1908.
  • “Northern Crown Bank.” Manitoba Free Press. 14 November 1908.
  • “Crescent Court Apartments.” Manitoba Free Press. 25 January 1909.
  • “Lake of the Woods Yacht Club.” Manitoba Free Press. 15 May 1909.
  • “New Country Club to Replace The Building Destroyed By Fire A Short Time Ago.” Manitoba Free Press. 1 February 1913.
  • “Richard & Brown Limited.” Manitoba Free Press. 27 April 1911.
  • “Dominion Bank, Calgary.” Construction vi (October 1913): 373.
  • “Handsome Office Building.” Manitoba Free Press. 11 May 1912.
  • “All Saints Anglican Church.” Construction xix (June 1926): 197.
  • “Heubach Residence.” Construction xix (September 1926): 292.
  • “Residence of Walter Moss, Esq., Roslyn Road, Winnipeg." Canadian Homes and Gardens 4 (October 1927): 32-33.
  • “Gordon Residence.” Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal v (September 1928): 333.
  • “Untitled.” Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal vii (October 1930): 375.
  • “Canadian Wheat Board Building.” Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal vii (January 1930): xxxiii.
  • “Bank of Toronto, Winnipeg.” Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal xi (April 1934): 62.
  • “School For Girls.” Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal xi (May 1934): 74.
  • “Dominion Public Building.” Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal xiv (July 1937): 140.
  • “Manitoba Cold Storage Warehouse.” Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal xiv (August 1937): 170.
  • “T. Eaton Co. Store, Edmonton.” Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal xv (September 1938): 211.
  • “Winnipeg General Hospital.” Canadian Hospital xxvii (September 1950): 31-33.
  • “Bank of Montreal.” Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal x (September 1950): 346.
  • “Imperial Bank of Canada, Winnipeg.” Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal xxvii, (October 1950): 351.
  • “George W. Northwood dead at 83.” Winnipeg Free Press. 15 December 1959.
  • Year past: report of the City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee. Winnipeg: Historical Building Committee, 1983
  • Bumsted, J. M. Dictionary of Manitoba Biography. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
  • Graham, John W. Guide to the architecture of Greater Winnipeg. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1960.
  • Kalman, Harold. History of Canadian Architecture. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1994. 761.
  • Kalman, Harold. Exploring Vancouver. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1974. 110.
  • Moir, Gillian, Helen Orr, Ione Thorkelsson, Irene Kuziw, John Hockman. Early Buildings of Manitoba. Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1973, 75.
  • Saunders, Ivan J. Early building in Winnipeg. Ottawa: Parks Canada, 1974.
  • Spector, David. Monuments to Finance. Winnipeg: Historical Building Committee 1980-1982.
  • Thompson, W.P. Winnipeg Architecture. Winnipeg: Queenston House, 1982.