Throughout his years in the construction industry, Frank R. Lount had a profound influence on the look and growth of Winnipeg, creating some of the city’s most significant neighbourhoods and distinctive landmarks.
Lount was born in Whitevale, Ontario and moved to Winnipeg in 1921. His first experience with building came when he established a contracting crew to pour concrete basements. Around this time Lount constructed a house for himself in St. James. Before long, Lount sold the house and began building another one; such a pattern continued until he realized that he had somewhat inadvertently entered the business of home construction. By 1929, Lount had fully entered the sector with his company Frank R. Lount and Son and was responsible for such notable homes as 120 Handsart Boulevard, an Arts & Crafts structure of stucco, red brick and shingle built for prominent accountant and businessman William Sydney Ronald and later home to the U.S. Consolate. This work was followed by other residential projects in the Tuxedo neighbourhood built in revival styles, including the Tudor-influenced 137 Handsart Boulevard (1932) and 131 and 139 Grenfell Boulevard (both 1935).
Another notable home built by Lount during this period was the Sures House (1021 Wellington Crescent, 1933), a dramatic masonry composition of multiple angular gable and rooflines and jutting chimney stacks. Lount’s son, W. D. Lount, was trained as an architect and designed many of these early projects. By the late 1930s Lount had established himself as a force in the Winnipeg homebuilding market and in 1937 he was elected the first president of the the Winnipeg House Builders’ Association.
In 1942 came perhaps the most remarkable of Lount’s works – the Winnipeg Clinic (425 St. Mary Avenue). Built in three stages, the project began with a modest two-storey structure of Tyndall stone. The plan of this portion was enlivened by a full-height, curving wall of glass block at the intersection of Vaughan Street and St. Mary Avenue, as well as a cantilevered, circular concrete entry canopy and engraved Art Deco detailing. In materiality and decoration the structure harkened to the adjacent Winnipeg Civic Auditorium, while updating and streamlining its architectural approach. Four years later – with the absence of war-time material and financial constraints – came the next portion of the building. This five-storey block, located east of the original section, featured angled banks of windows wrapping the south-west corner, dramatic, curving metallic fins dividing the floors and operating as sunshades and a nearly free-standing wall of rough limestone. To this section was added a further, matching, six-storeys in 1959.
After the war, Lount was also responsible for a number of projects in Winnipeg’s suburbs, including the limestone 221 Park Boulevard (1949) in Tuxedo and homes in the Windsor Park area. The most prominent of these undertakings, however, was the development of the Silver Heights neighourhood. In the autumn of 1949, the Frank Lount and Son Construction Company had obtained 40.5 hectares of land from the Municipality of St. James. On this plot he built a great number of houses and apartment blocks with a modernist inflected approach, amongst them the Silver Heights Apartments (2235, 2245, 2255 Portage Avenue) where the mix of angularity, rough limestone and curving concrete canopy entryways and dramatic signage evoke the “Googie” aesthetic. As a symbol for and gateway to the new district, in 1950 a series of decorative pillars were built by the Lount company between Portage and Traill avenues. Like the Winnipeg Clinic (and a number of other Lount projects) these structures make use of a deliberately rustic and seemingly haphazard arrangement of rough, pinkish limestone. Their overall design – which recalls that of the Silver Heights Apartments and creates a passageway for pedestrians and holds benches – involves an interplay of slight angles and features cantilevered concrete slabs, and wrought-iron crocus-flower decoration and signage.
Notably, Lount’s brother, Charles Lount (1887-1971), a graduate of Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto, was also involved in the construction industry and pioneered the use of techniques, including the use of the lift-slab method of construction, which was first used in Canada in such projects as Silver Heights Park Towers (2300 Portage Avenue) and the Park Terrace apartment block. The company founded by Charles Lount’s son Graham, the Canadian Lift Slab Corporation (a subsidiary of Lount Construction Corporation) has built up to 18 storey buildings and parking garages in Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver. The larger company has, over the last 60 years, been involved with the development of more than 20,000 residential units across North America, including such large projects as Winnipeg’s Kiltarton Towers (1712 Portage Avenue, 1969) and the 38-storey 55 Nassau Street North (1970).
In 1945-46, Frank Lount also served as the President of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association; in 1975 Lount was honoured by the Housing and Urban Development Association of Canada for his efforts towards this organisation. Lount was married to Annette B. Lount for more than 60 years. He passed away in May 1976, having spent much of his retirement in Pompano Beach, Florida.