Over its years of productive work, Northwood & Chivers had an enormous impact on the look and life of Winnipeg and was responsible for some of the city’s most iconic buildings. The firm began in the mid-1920s, when already active architects George W. Northwood (1877 - 1959) and Cyril William Upton Chivers (1879-1969) decided to once again forge a professional partnership. The two 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 this new partnership created from the 1920s onward was the seminal, Tudor, Assiniboine Park Pavilion (1929) – a three-storey, half-timbered block topped by a soaring, matching tower. This design recalled the arrangement presented by the earlier 1908 pavilion (lost to a fire not long before the project commenced) which likewise presented a central tower and lower main structure. Other notable early works by 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).
The partners likewise selected limestone for a building that pointed to the architects’ evolution toward a gradually modernizing aesthetic approach: the slender Canadian Wheat Board Building (423 Main Street, 1928). There, a heavier masonry ground floor with a double height entranceway is superseded by a seven-storey section with substantial glazing. Though bearing a Gothic motif, this part of the structure – with its tall piers emphasizing verticality and general sparseness – is undoubtedly executed in a contemporary style. 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 that 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 from outside 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. That period 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. During 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.