Nelson, James

NELSON, James (1830-1919) was an important figure in the architectural evolution of Montreal in the nineteenth century. His long career spanned more than fifty years, beginning in August 1853 and ending with his retirement in 1908. He practised alone and in several partnerships, including # Hopkins & Nelson (1853-54)
Hopkins, Lawford & Nelson (1855-59)
Lawford & Nelson (1860-66)
James Nelson (1867-68)
Nelson & Ballard (1868-69)
James Nelson (1870-80)
Nelson & Ballard (1881-83)
Nelson & Clift (1884-91)
James Nelson (1892-93)
James & H.C. Nelson (1894-98)
James Nelson (1899-1904)


He was born in Belfast, Ireland, son of Thomas Nelson and Elizabeth Nicholson, and was brought to Montreal by his parents in 1840. After receiving his education there he formed a partnership with John W. Hopkins in August 1853 (Montreal Transcript, 30 Aug. 1853, 2) and two years later they invited Frederick Lawford, a talented young designer from London, England, to join them. Their firm can be credited with some of the outstanding examples of Gothic Revival and Renaissance Revival work erected in Canada (see list of works under Hopkins, Lawford & Nelson and under Lawford & Nelson). For more than ten years Nelson collaborated with Lawford, but the untimely death of Lawford in August 1866 brought an end to their partnership, and Nelson continued to work alone or with Charles Ballard. During this period he was frequently called upon by the Montreal Buildng Association to design several of their speculative row housing projects on Cadieux Street, St. Antoine Street, St. George Street, St. Matthew Street, Mansfield Street, St. Famille Street and elsewhere (ANQM, W.F. Lighthall, Notaire, records from 1868 to 1877). In 1884 Nelson formed a partnership with Christopher Clift; one of their employees was H. Charles Nelson, son of James, who worked in their office as a draftsman. The firm was dissolved in early 1891 (C.A.B., iv, Feb. 1891, 23) and Nelson worked under his own name until 1894 when his son joined him in a new partnership. That same year Nelson was elected as President of the Province of Quebec Association of Architects and remained active in the profession until 1909 when he moved to Arundel, Que. He died there on 18 February 1919 and was buried at Mount Royal Cemetery (death notice in The Gazette [Montreal], 19 Feb. 1919, 7; biography in H. Morgan, Canadian Men and Women of the Time, 1912, 847). His portrait can be found in the Canadian Architect & Builder, vi, Nov. 1893, 115.

JAMES NELSON

ST. ANTOINE STREET, residence for Henry Millen, 1867 (Montreal Herald, 22 March 1867, Supplement, 6)
J.C. SPENCE CO., Jurors Street at Bleury Street, major addition to commercial block, 1867 (Montreal Herald, 22 March 1867, Supplement, 6)
ST. JAMES SQUARE, conversion of building belonging to Mr. Cooper into two dwellings, 1867 (Montreal Herald, 22 March 1867, Supplement, 1)
ST. DENIS STREET, 'adjacent to Trinity Church', residence for Charles Garth, 1870 (Montreal Herald, 28 Nov. 1870, 1, descrip.)
SHERBROOKE, QUE., Eastern Townships Bank, Dufferin Street, 1874-76 (Gazette [Montreal], 31 March 1874, 2, t.c.; 1 Feb. 1877, 1, descrip.; C. Cameron & J. Wright, Second Empire Style in Canadian Architecture, 1980, 102-05; Susan Wagg, 'The Eastern Townships Bank: An Architectural History' in Journal of Eastern Townships Studies, No. 10, Spring 1997, 55-70, illus. & descrip.)
DOUGLAS METHODIST CHURCH, Ste. Catherine Street West, 1875-76 (Gazette [Montreal], 23 Aug. 1875, 2, t.c.; Christian Guardian, 16 Feb. 1876, 54, descrip.)
MOUNT ROYAL PARK, a Refectory, 1876 (Gazette [Montreal], 5 June 1876, 3, t.c.)
LENNOXVILLE, QUE., rebuilding of Bishop's College after a fire, 1877-78 (inf. from Bishop's College, Trustees Minute Book, 24 Oct. 1877, 42)
HUTCHISON STREET, two houses for E. Heuser, 1891 (C.R., ii, 11 April 1891, 2)
LONGUEUIL, QUE., rectory for St. Mark's Anglican Church, St. Charles Street, 1891 (C.R., ii, 1 Aug. 1891, 2)
ANGLICAN SYNOD HALL, University Street, alterations, with addition of a house for the Secretary on Berthelot Street, 1899 (C.R., x, 29 Nov. 1899, 3)
AYLMER STREET, at Berthelot Street, block of buildings to be used as flats for the Anglican Synod, 1899 (C.R., x, 29 Nov. 1899, 3)

NELSON & BALLARD

ST. PAUL'S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, Dorchester Street West at St. Monique Street, addition of a bell tower, 1881; church dismantled in 1930 and rebuilt in 1931 at St. Lawrence College (Gazette [Montreal], 22 Dec. 1881, 3, descrip.)

NELSON & CLIFT

ST. LAMBERT, QUE., St. Barnabas Anglican Church, Lorne Avenue, 1884-86 (Gazette [Montreal], 10 Nov. 1884, 3; South Shore Press [St. Lambert], 9 Jan. 1930, 6, illus.)
ST. GABRIEL LOCKS, factory for the John Smith Estate, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
PEEL STREET, north of Sherbrooke Street West, four houses for William Denoon, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
PEEL STREET, north of Sherbrooke Street West, residence for J.A. Gillespie, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
PEEL STREET, north of Sherbrooke Street West, pair of houses for Robert Hampson, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
PEEL STREET, south of Sherbrooke Street West, residence for Richard J. Tooke, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
UNIVERSITY STREET, south of Sherbrooke Street West, two houses for William Denoon, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
SHERBROOKE STREET WEST, two tenements for the Charles Huston Estate, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
DALHOUSIE STREET, tenement for E.G. Penny, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
MACKAY STREET, near Dorchester Street West, four houses for Henry Millen, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
MACKAY STREET, north of St. Catherine Street West, two houses for T.L. McConkey, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
ST. HUBERT STREET, north of Sherbrooke Street West, two houses for John Millen, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
SHUTER STREET, near Prince Arthur Street, three houses for Henry Millen, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
STE. CATHERINE STREET WEST, at Metcalfe Street, store on Ste. Catherine Street West with residence facing Metcalfe Street for B.A. Boas, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
MILLER BROS. & CO., Dowd Street, factory, 1886; addition, 1890 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2; C.R., i, 13 Sept. 1890, 2)
ELM AVENUE, near Ste. Catherine Street West, residence for Mrs. Eveleigh and two houses for J.W. Shotton, 1887 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
ST. MARK STREET, at Baile Street, pair of houses for Thomas Shaughnessy and Charles Drinkwater of the C.P.R., adapted from plans prepared by Thomas Sorby, 1886; both houses demol. c. 1970 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
ST. LAMBERT QUE., St. Barnabas Anglican Church, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
ST. LAMBERT, QUE., residence for James Bourne, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
SHERBROOKE, QUE., Public Library and Museum, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
LENNOXVILLE, QUE., addition of the Bishop Williams Wing to the School, 1886 (Gazette [Montreal], 12 Jan. 1887, 2)
DOUGLAS METHODIST CHURCH, Ste. Catherine Street West at Chomedey Street, 1889-90 (Gazette [Montreal], 2 Sept. 1889, 7, illus. & descrip.; 30 Aug. 1890, 5, descrip.)
DUROCHER STREET, residence for Karl l. Weber, 1890 (C.R., i, 24 May 1890, 3, t.c.)

J. & H.C. NELSON

STANLEY STREET, residence for James A. Gillespie, 1894 (C.R., v, 11 March 1894, 2, t.c.; C.A.B., viii, Jan. 1895, 9; L. Maitland, The Queen Anne Revival Style in Canadian Architecture, 1990, 160, illus.)
ST. JAMES THE APOSTLE ANGLICAN CHURCH, Ste. Catherine Street West at Bishop Street, new transept and Sunday School, 1895 (C.R., vi, 30 May 1895, 4)
LAVAL AVENUE, residence for Joseph Levy, 1896 (C.R., vii, 2 April 1896, 3; C.A.B., ix, Nov. 1896, illus. plate; Montreal, Les Residences, 1987, 593-5, illus.)
STE. ANNE DE BELLEVUE, QUE., summer house for John B. Abbott, Senneville Road, 1897 (C.R., viii, 3 June 1897, 4; Montreal, Les Residences, 1987, 4-7, illus.)