Herbert Moody was the stalwart partner and the creative force behind one of Winnipeg’s most prolific architectural practices – Moody Moore Architects. Born in Winnipeg on 12 March 1903, Moody began his post-secondary education at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. Following the example of his father – Dr. Arthur Moody – the younger Moody spent a year in medical school but discovered it was not for him. Having returned to Winnipeg, Moody graduated with a degree in architecture from the University of Manitoba in 1926. He then once more travelled east to work with the firm of Derby and Robinson in Boston, from 1925 to 1928. In May of 1928 the architect returned to Canada and gained employment as a draftsman for the venerable Toronto firm of Sproatt and Rolph, staying their until 1933 when a work slowdown resulted in layoffs. Moody’s Toronto employers described him as a “very capable draughtsman and an excellent designer.” Having returned to Winnipeg, in 1933 Moody registered with the Manitoba Association of Architects (MAA) as the Canadian economy was in the depths of the Depression.
In 1936 Moody joined with fellow University of Manitoba architecture graduate Robert Moore to establish a new practice in Winnipeg – a partnership which was to last for 40 years. Due to the depressed economy, business was not easy. Another obstacle arrived with the commencement of the Second World War in 1939. Moody felt obliged to enlist – perhaps influenced by his training at the Military College. From 1940 to 1945, he served overseas with the Royal Canadian Engineers Army 3rd Division, achieving the rank of Major. For the first two years of the war, Moody was stationed at the Debert Military Camp in Nova Scotia designing quarters and facilities for the military base there. In 1941 he shipped out to England where he claimed (with modesty) that he designed “huts” as additions to military hospitals and simple ordinance buildings for wartime use. Following the Allied invasion of Normandy, Moody relocated to France to oversee repairs to airfields and other bombed facilities. This experience in the design and construction of hospitals and related facilities proved very useful for his firm’s post-war practice.
Upon his return to Canada and to his partnership Moody began lecturing at the School of Architecture, a position he held from 1946 to 1949. The architect also became very active in the Manitoba Association of Architects and in the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC). Council work with the MAA before and after the war led to executive appointments including a role as president for several years, beginning in 1951. That same year, Moody was appointed a fellow of the RAIC, wherein he worked on several committees and projects before his election as Chancellor of the College of Fellows of the RAIC from 1961 to 1964.
Not always politically compliant, Moody criticized his own profession when he was a member of the Winnipeg Town Planning Commission in 1959. While his own firm did virtually no residential design, he tabled a brief before the RAIC residential environment committee that deplored members of his profession who designed houses and housing developments with disregard to their existing neighbourhood or even to the most elementary principles of civic design.
At the commencement of his RAIC appointment of 1961, Moody told the Winnipeg Free Press that most architectural practices (including his own) did not specialize. In order to have the capabilities needed for complex, modern design, a firm required expertise in structural, mechanical and engineering disciplines, as well as core designers. This was a significant change from his earlier years as an architectural practitioner. As well, he marveled at the sharp increase in the number of firms since he began as an architect in Winnipeg in 1934. He paid tribute to the high standards set by John A. Russell and his alma mater, the Faculty of Architecture, at the University of Manitoba.
In 1968, Moody finished his period of leadership at the RAIC. His last major task was to lead a national study on architectural practice. His frustration with the trends that he observed in current practice led to harsh criticism. This criticism was particularly directed toward the many architects who he saw to be egocentric in their designs and who were seen to be unable to provide accurate estimated costs. These short-comings resulted in serious cost over-runs that were irritating to the client and bad publicity for the profession.
The following year, Moody Moore joined forces with a younger firm (established in 1963) to become Moody Moore Duncan Rattray Peters Searle Christie Architects, Engineers, and Planners. The new firm, with a professional staff of 30 architects, engineers, interior designers and planners numbered 70 people in total. At the time Moody was 65 years old and likely searching for a vehicle for his life’s work to continue into the future. He became a consultant to the firm and ceased active design several years before he went onto retired membership status with the MAA in 1975. The following year, Moody was given an honourary life membership to the MAA at a reception in his honour at the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.
Herbert Moody passed away on 1 March 1991. He was buried in St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.