Percy Erskine Nobbs

Percy Erskine Nobbs
Born (1875-08-11)August 11, 1875
Haddington, Scotland
Died November 5, 1964(1964-11-05) (aged 89)
Montreal, Quebec
Occupation Architect
Buildings McCord Museum
Osler Library, McGill University
St. James Church, Trois Rivieres, QC

Percy Erskine Nobbs (August 11, 1875 November 5, 1964) was a Canadian architect who was born in Haddington, Scotland and trained in the United Kingdom. Educated at the Edinburgh Collegiate School and Edinburgh University, he spent most of his career in the Montreal area.[1] Often working in partnership with George Taylor Hyde, Nobbs designed a great many of what would become Montreal's heritage buildings and was a key Canadian proponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement in architecture.

Architecture career

He designed the fire station on Euston Road, in the "Arts and Crafts" style. It was built in 1901-2 and still stands. Nobbs had already received awards and won prizes as a practicing architect when he came to McGill University in 1903 to teach architecture. He got the permission to practice architecture while teaching, and soon obtained commissions for private homes as well as for institutional buildings. His designs for homes had the distinction of paying a great deal of attention to the siting and orientation of the building, and the placement of the windows. He considered this at least as important as what the home actually looked like. He called it "building for Prospect as well as Aspect," and designed many an impressive mansion in this way.

In partnership with Cecil Burgess, Percy Erskine Nobbs designed the J.B. Porter House on McTavish Street, Montreal, which has been demolished.[2]


Major Percy Erskine Nobbs plaque @ Currie Hall Royal Military College of Canada

He designed the interior decorative program of the Currie Hall at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. The Currie Building decorations evoke the achievements of the Canadian Corps in the Great War, and with the British Monarchy.[3]

Nobbs and Hyde designed many McGill University buildings: Power House (1909); Strathcona Medical Building (1923); Pathology Building (1923); Pulp & Paper Research Institute (1927). Nobbs and Hyde remodeled many McGill University buildings: MacDonald Engineering Building, reconstruction after fire in 1907; major addition to the University Library, McTavish Street (1921–22); addition of West Wing at Royal Victoria College (1930–31). Nobbs and Hyde provided interiors and furniture for the Osler Memorial Library (1923).

Nobbs and Hyde designed some commercial buildings around Montreal as well as the University Club building (1913) on Mansfield Street.

Nobbs and Frank Darling designed the master plan for the University of Alberta 1909-10. With Cecil S. Burgess, Nobbs designed the Provincial College of Medicine (1920–21). Nobbs designed the Arts Building (1914–15); laboratories and Power House (1914); [4]

Nobbs and Hyde won the competition for the war memorial in Regina.

Building Year Completed Builder Style Location Image
Arts Building, University of Alberta [5] 1909-10 Percy Erskine Nobbs & Frank Darling Romanesque Revival architecture Edmonton, Alberta
Pathological Institute Building, McGill University 1925 Percy Erskine Nobbs Romanesque Revival architecture Montreal, Quebec
Osler Library, McGill University 1925 Percy Erskine Nobbs Romanesque Revival architecture Montreal, Quebec
Redpath Library Building, McGill University 1935 Percy Erskine Nobbs Romanesque Revival architecture Montreal, Quebec
Currie Hall, Royal Military College of Canada Percy Erskine Nobbs Romanesque Revival architecture Kingston, Ontario

He was an accomplished athlete in fencing, representing Canada at the 1908 Olympics[6] and for all of his life he was a true fisherman and founded the Atlantic Salmon Federation due to his love of fishing. He published two books, now both out of print, entitled Fencing Tactics and Salmon Tactics. His talent as a draftsman and painter—he was an RCA—was also quite exceptional.


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Further reading

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Frederick Stanely Haines
Acting President of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts
Succeeded by
Ernest Fosbery
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