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Francis Mawson Rattenbury Biography

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Francis Mawson Rattenbury

Birthdate:   11 Oct 1867
Website: N/A
Category: Other

Francis "Frank" Mawson Rattenbury is one of British Columbia's best known architects. He was responsible for many of the province's most famous landmarks including: the British Columbia Parliament Buildings (1893-1898) in Victoria, the Empress Hotel (1904-1908) in Victoria, the Vancouver Courthouse (1906) and Crystal Gardens, Victoria (1923). He was also known for his personality and often was thought of as an "ill tempered" and "mean" man who was extremely frugal with his money but a brilliant architect.

Rattenbury came to British Columbia in 1892 as a young architect at the age of 24 from England. He was born and raised at Leeds in 1867 to Mary (nee Mawson) and John Rattenbury. Francis started out his career in a vocational textile school where he was going to learn about the wool industry. However, in 1885 upon the influence of two of Rattenbury's uncles, he left this field for architecture. He worked for his uncles' firm "Mawson and Mawson" (later "Mawson and Hudson") where he was trained by them to work on mostly commercial and institutional buildings. Some of his early buildings in England include a Public Day School (for which he won the Soane Medallion award, and the Town Hall for Cleckheaton, Yorkshire. Francis left his uncles' firm in 1892 as he felt his success as an independent architect would be limited by them if he stayed. As it was the firm was now past it's peak due to the death of one of his uncles and a poor local economy.

Rattenbury worked all over British Columbia and is most well known for his commercial buildings, although he did design houses as well. He won many contracts from the Provincial Government to design several courthouses and schools, as well as the new Government House (Cary Castle) in Victoria. Francis also worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway building "Railway Hotels" at the major stops along the CPR route. Another major contract awarded to Rattenbury was from the Bank of Montreal who had him design four branch buildings. Other patrons of his included the BC Electric Company and the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria.

In 1930 Francis decided to leave British Columbia with his second wife Alma and infant son John and moved back to Bournemouth, England. Rattenbury died in 1935 when he was murdered by his wife's jealous lover, who also happened to be their chauffeur.

BC & Canada


Roursay Brothers and Co. Building, Hastings St., Vancouver.
Rattenbury prepared plans for this building, but there is no documentary
evidence that it ever materialised.

Davis Block at the intersection of Oppenheimer St. and Westminster Ave.,
Vancouver. Design for a 3-storey building.

Roedde House: 1415 Barclay St., Vancouver, B.C.
British and American Queen Anne styles.


Commercial Building at intersection of Cambie and Water streets, Vancouver

Legislative Buildings, Victoria, B.C
British High Victorian Gothic, mid-nineteenth century Italianate and American
Richardsonian Romanesque styles.


Courthouse, Chilliwack, B.C.
American Vernacular and Queen Anne styles; burned 1951.

Courthouse, Nanaimo, B.C.
Built between 1895-96; combination of Legislative Buildings' and Chateau styles.


Bank of Montreal: Government St., Victoria, B.C.
Chateau design, synthesis of Renaissance English and French architecture.
Completed 1897.


B.C. Electric Railway Co., Carrall & Hastings, Vancouver.
Renaissance style; opened 1898

House for A.S. Dumbleton, 1648 Rockland Ave., Victoria, B.C.
Simplified Queen Anne, Arts & Crafts, Tudor styles


"Iechinihl," 1701 Beach Dr., Victoria, B.C.
F.M. Rattenbury's residence; Queen Anne, American Arts & Crafts styles. Additions
in 1902, 1912. Now Glenlyon School.

Hotel Glenora, Telegraph Creek, B.C.

Bank of Montreal, Rossland, B.C.
Chastened version of Lockwood and Mawson's Italianate style.

Bank of Montreal, Church and Columbia Sts., New Westminster
Now demolished.


Bank of Montreal, Nelson, B.C.
Beaux-Arts style

Hotel Greenwood, Greenwood, B.C.

Hotel Rossland, Rossland, B.C.
Now demolished.

Cold storage depots in Vancouver and Nelson, B.C.
Now demolished.

House for E.V. Bodnell, 1626 Rockland Ave., Victoria, B.C.
American Vernacular style

Renovation of the interior of H.O. Tiedemann's Courthouse, built in 1889:
Bastion Square, Victoria, B.C.

Burns House, 4th Street S-W., Calgary, Alta.
Neo-Gothic style with both arts and Crafts, Chateau motifs. Demolished in 1956.


Hotel Vancouver, Granville St., Vancouver, B.C.
Commissioned by the CPR to replace Sorby's Hotel; Chateau style. Only one
wing still stands.

Office Block, Bastion & Langley Str., Victoria, B.C.
Pressed brick and terra cotta.

House for Resident Medical Officer, Jubilee Hospital
Designed without fee.


House for Lyman P. Duff, Q.C., 1745 Rockland Ave., Victoria, B.C. called
"Ashton." Queen Anne, Arts and Crafts styles.

Mount Stephen House, Field, B.C.
Demolished in the early 1950's.

B.C. Electric Co. Car Depot, Pembroke St., Victoria

Jubilee Hospital, Victoria.
Designed without fee.

Victoria High School, Fernwood St.
This design won the competition. Neo-Gothic style.

Government House ("Cary Castle"), Rockland Ave.
Neo-Gothic, Neo-Tudor styles.
1957 destroyed by fire. Porte-cochere is still standing.


House for J.H. McGregor, 1447 Mount Baker Ave., Victoria.
Neo-Tudor style. (Now St. David St.)

Added extension: Lake Louise Hotel, Alberta
Arts and Crafts style. Altered by W.S. Painter after 1906.

Added extension: glacier (CPR) Hotel, Glacier, B.C.
Demolished in the 1920's.

Added one wing: Banff Springs (CPR) Hotel, Banff, Alberta
Arts and Crafts style.

Revelstoke (CPR) Hotel, Revelstoke, B.C.
Rattenbury may have designed this structure.


Courthouse, Nelson, B.C.
Design won competition: Chateau style.

Empress (CPR) Hotel, Victoria, B.C.
Chateau style; opened in 1907.

House for A.T. Howard, Oak Bay, B.C.

Alice Galletly House, 1737 Rockland Ave., Victoria, B.C.
Chalet style.


Emerald Lake (CPR) Chalet Hotel, Emerald Lake, B.C.

B.C. Electric Railway Co. Bldg., 1016 Langley St., Victoria, B.C.

CPR Steamship Terminal, 468 Belleville St., Victoria, B.C.
Neo-Tudor style; demolished in 1923 for Rattenbury's second terminal.

House for G.A. Kirk, "Riffham," 582 St. Charles St., Victoria, B.C.
Neo-Tudor style.

House for Mrs. Henri Clay, 810 Linden St., Victoria, B.C.
Tudor and Queen Anne styles.


House for Dr. C.N. Cobbett, 1040 Pembroke Rd., Victoria
Now demolished.

Glacier (CPR) Hotel, Glacier, B.C.
Renovations; demolished in the 1920's.

Lake Louise Chalet (CPR) Hotel, Lake Loouise, Alberta
Extension; burned down in 1924

Humber's Furniture Store, 45 Bastion Sq., Victoria, B.C.
Eclectic Classical style. (Now the Law Chambers Building.)

House for Judge Lampman, 1690 York Pl., Victoria, B.C.
Queen Anne, and Arts and Crafts styles.


Courthouse, Georgia St., Vancouver, B.C.
Rattenbury won the competition in 1906; building completed in 1911. (Now the
Vancouver Art Gallery.) Impressive, and notably chaste Beaux-Arts design.

House for J.O. Grahame, 534 St. Charles St., Victoria, B.C.
Tudor style.

Porte cochere "Grisburn," Rockland Ave., Victoria, B.C.

Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Hotel, Prince Rupert, B.C.


House for A.M. Coles, 851 Wollaston St., Victoria, B.C.
Arts and Crafts style.

Commercial Building for the Brackman Ker Milling Co., intersection of Broad and Pandora streets, Victoria, B.C.

Merchant's Bank of Canada, corner of Douglas and Yates, Victoria, B.C.; later acquired by the Bank of Montreal.
Neo-Classical style.


Commercial building for D.R. Kerrr, Fort St., Victoria, B.C.


House of Dr. O.M. Jones, 599 Island Rd., Oak Bay, B.C.
Tudor style.


Parliamentary Library, East and West Wings, Victoria, B.C.
The offices were completed in 1914, and the library in 1915. The total expenditure
amounted to 1.3 million.

Classicized version of the Legislative Buildings.

St. Margaret's School for Girls, Victoria, B.C.
Demolished in 1970.


Merchants' Bank of Canada, 499 Wallace St., Nanaimo, B.C.
"Free Renaissance" style.

Grand Trunk Pacific Hotel, Prince Rupert, B.C.
Was to have replaced the 1906 hotel, but never completed.

Grand Trunk Pacific Hotel, Victoria, B.C.
The project was abandoned.

Chateau Miette, and Chateau Mt. Robson, Alberta


Grand Trunk Pacific Station and Log Depot Mt. Robson, B.C.

Grand Trunk Pacific Steamship Terminal and Station, Prince Rupert, B.C.

Grand Trunk Pacific "Mountain Inn", Jasper, Alta.


Grand Trunk Pacific "Station Chateau Miette", Miette Springs, Alberta

Grand Trunk Pacific Lodge, Miette Springs, Alberta

House for R.W. Gibson, 1590 York Pl., Victoria, B.C.
Italianate style.


Second CPR Steamship Terminal, 468 Belleville St., Victoria

Designed in partnership with P.S. James, completed in 1924.
Revised Beaux-Arts style.

Crystal Garden, Douglas St., Victoria, B.C.
Designed in conjunction with P.L. James, completed in 1925.


Hotel Project, Douglas Gardens, Victoria, B.C.

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Posted by: Hyack      Last updated: 14-09-2007      Hits: 14555