Banff Springs Hotel - Faimont Banff Springs - Bruce Price 1888 - 1928 Walter S. Painter
Banff Springs Hotel (built 1928, replacing the original from 1888 – both designed by Architects hailing from the United States), now the Faimont Banff Springs. Image Credit: Banff Springs Hotel.

What is Canadian architecture? Thursday night’s book launch of Canada: Modern Architectures in History, by Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe and Michelangelo Sabatino, hosted by Infom Interiors, was enlightening. The speaker (Liscombe), noted his hesitation to write a book that categorizes architecture by the national borders within which it is found – architectural ideas and climatic conditions have little concern for the invisible lines separating one country from another.
Liscombe continued by suggesting the classification of architecture by country was in fact a worthwhile pursuit, as the differences in political forces within borders can cause unique architectural elements to form in ways not found anywhere else.
July 1st marks the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, a small dimple in roughly 13,000 years of human cohabitation with this land. What will the idiosyncrasies of our confederation’s next 150 years bring our architecture?  Tipis, long houses, Pier 21, Banff Springs Hotel, the Canadian Parliament Buildings, the Ogden Federal Elevator, the Spiral Tunnel, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, Habitat ’67, Toronto City Hall, the Museum of Civilization, Seabird Island Community School, Ghost Laboratory: what is Canadian architecture?


  1. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head featuring the Banff Springs Hotel. The grand railway hotel and the CPR are so intertwined with the nation’s founding and the style is unique, even if it is a pastiche.

  2. I don’t believe it’s a pastiche. It’s more of a mosaic of older references assembled in new ways, placed in a unique setting, and executed with precision craftsmanship.
    That is Canada’s European roots. Even BC-born Samuel Maclure’s more treasured works borrowed from his partner’s and employee’s experiences, notably English Arts and Crafts. Again, the references are very well executed and are A-rated and protected in most cases today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *