Dewar, Andrew

DEWAR, Andrew (1846-1930) , an important 19th C. architect in the Maritime provinces who was active in the following offices:

Stirling & Dewar, March 1870 to June 1877, with offices in Charlottetown, P.E.I. headed by David Stirling, and in Halifax, N.S., headed by Andrew Dewar
Dumaresq & Dewar, Saint John, N.B., June 1877-December 1877 (with J.C.P. Dumaresq)
Andrew Dewar, Halifax, N.S., early 1878-1881
Dewar & Dewar, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1881-1891
Andrew Dewar, South Africa, c. 1900 to 1910, later changing his name to "Redcote Dewar, Architect"
MacKay & Dewar, North Vancouver, B.C. 1911-1912 (with Alexander S.W. MacKay)
Andrew Dewar, South Africa, 1913-c. 1928

Dewar was born 10 December 1846 in Edinburgh, Scotland and trained there under Robert Paterson. He arrived in Nova Scotia in early 1869 and settled in Halifax. In March 1870 he was invited by another Scotsman David Stirling, a leading architect in the Maritimes, to form a partnership (see list of works under Stirling & Dewar). Dewar quickly proved himself to be a capable designer and an astute observer and critic of architecture in Canada. His lengthy essay entitled 'The Architecture of Canada' was published in the weekly architectural journal called The Architect [London], v, 20 May 1871, 264-5, and detailed the highlights of the works by several Canadian architects in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. That same year, he prepared a related article on 'American Sham Architecture' (The Architect [London], v, 4 March 1871, 113-14) in which he criticized the use of veneers of imitation stone or marble on many public and commercial buildings in major American cities.

Dewar gained valuable experience collaborating with Stirling on major buildings throughout the Maritimes, with Stirling operating a Charlottetown branch of the office, leaving Dewar to take charge of their commissions in the Halifax office. Their partnership was dissolved in February 1877. The calamity of the Great Fire in Saint John N.B. in June 1877 prompted Dewar to move there. He joined in a partnership with J.C. Dumaresq in July 1877 (see list of works under Dumaresq & Dewar), but their collaboration was shortlived, and was terminated in December 1877. Dewar returned to Halifax in early 1878 and opened an office under his own name, accepting commissions for projects in Nova Scotia, and offering classes in architectural drawing (Citizen & Evening Chronicle [Halifax], 24 Oct. 1878, 3). In 1880 he published an essay on "Timber Dwelling Houses in Nova Scotia" in which he described the wood balloon framing method of construction which was common in the province at that time (Building News [London], xxxviii, 23 Jan. 1880, 99).

By 1881 he had returned to Edinburgh, where he won First Prize in the competition for Colston Street United Presbyterian Church (1881). Dewar was one of 20 architects who had submitted plans for this ecclesiastical commission (R. Harper, Victorian Architectural Competitions, 1983, 211). He is almost certainly the same "Andrew Dewar" who wrote a highly opinionated essay on the shift in styles as evidenced in recent architectural works in Edinburgh and elsewhere. This paper, presented to the Edinburgh Architectural Association in March 1882, was reproduced in full in The Building News [London], xlii, 31 March 1882, 383-85. He later formed a partnership with his younger brother Alexander C. Dewar (1859-1932), and practiced with him for more than a decade.

For unexplained reasons, Dewar decided to move to Johannesburg, South Africa in 1903. His biography, published there in 1905, records him as "...Mr. Redcote [sic] Dewar, ...who went to Canada and was Dominion Architect for Nova Scotia, erecting many public and private buildings in that country including the Post Office, and the Asylum for Insane, Charlottetown, the Athenaeum, St. John's Newfoundland, and Fort Massey Church, Halifax The explicit references to his early career in Canada with David Stirling leave little doubt that 'Redcote Dewar' is, in fact, the same person as Andrew Dewar.

In October 1911, he appears to be the same irrepressible Andrew Dewar, architect who travelled to Vancouver B.C., and was active there for more than one year. In October 1911, the firm of MacKay & Dewar Architects won the competition for St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, North Vancouver, and their Gothic design was selected over 14 other designs submitted by architects from Vancouver, Seattle and elsewhere (The Express (North Vancouver), 13 Oct. 1911, page 1, descrip.). The passenger ship lists for U.S. Border Crossings in 1911 and 1912 confirm him to be Andrew Dewar, architect, then aged 66, the same peripatetic Scottish architect, born 1846, who had lived and worked in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick from 1870 to 1881 and who later returned to Edinburgh before moving to South Africa in 1901. It is unclear why he moved back to Canada in 1911, or why he left again in December 1912, likely to return to South Africa. In June 1912, he was among 40 architects who attended the First Convention of the British Columbia Society of Architects held in Victoria B.C. (Daily News-Advertiser (Vancouver), 22 June 1912, 6, list of members). This organization was the forerunner of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia, later formed in 1920 and still active today in 2023.

The R.I.B.A. membership Kalendars (London) listed Dewar as still living in Port Elizabeth, South Africa as late as 1930 (R.I.B.A. Kalendar for 1930-31, 558). However, this confusing record may have been printed after his return to Scotland in 1929 or 1930. Dewar died at Leven, County Fife on 26 September 1930, and he was buried in the family plot at Scoonie Cemetery, Scoonie Brae Road, Town of Leven. His brother Alex Cumming Dewar, architect (born 1859) was buried in the same family plot after his death in 1932. A photographic portrait of Andrew Dewar, taken by the Notman Studio in Canada, c. 1875, is now held in the Photographic Collections at PANS, Halifax, Acc. N 688. (biog. for Andrew Dewar in the South African Architect, Engineer & Surveyor's Journal, Oct. 1905, 9; M. Rosinski, Architects of Nova Scotia: A Biographical Dictionary, 1994, 117-18; inf. Garry Shutlak, Halifax; inf. Johanna Walker, Pretoria, S.A.; website Dictionary of Scottish Architects, entry for Andrew Dewar)

Andrew DEWAR (works in Nova Scotia and Scotland)

BEDFORD, N.S., Presbyterian Church, 1870 (Acadian Recorder [Halifax], 7 Aug. 1920, 1; historical article; Evening Mail [Halifax], 9 Aub. 1920, 24, historical article)
WOLFVILLE, N.S., Women's Seminary, on the campus of Acadia College, 1878 (Morning Chronicle [Halifax], 12 July 1878, 1, descript.; E. Pacey & A. Comiter, Landmarks: Historic Buildings of Nova Scotia, 1994, 94-5, illus.)
DARTMOUTH, N.S., Baptist Church, 1879 (Halifax Reporter, 20 Sept. 1879, 3)
AMHERST, N.S., residence for Nelson A. Rhodes, 1881 (Builder [London], xl, 7 May 1881, 568, 572, 574, illus. & descript.)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, Colston Street United Presbyterian Church, 1881 (The Architect [London], xxv, 9 April 1881, 262, descrip.; Builder [London], xl, 23 April 1881, 503)

Andrew DEWAR & Alex C. DEWAR (works in Scotland)

LEVEN, SCOTLAND, reconstruction of the Town Hall, 1891
COLINSBURGH, SCOTLAND, Town Hall, Main Street, 1894-95 (John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland - Fife, 1988, 128)
CELLARDYKE, SCOTLAND, Cellardyke School and School Teacher's House, 1896
LEVEN, SCOTLAND, parish church, 1897
LEVEN, SCOTLAND, Masonic & Volunteer Halls, 1898
LEVEN, SCOTLAND, Thistle Golf Club, 1898

Andrew DEWAR (works in South Africa)

JEPPESTOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, St. Andrew's Church & Hall, c. 1903 (South African Architect, Engineer & Surveyor's Journal, Oct. 1905, 9)

Andrew DEWAR (works in Vancouver, B.C.)

NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C., St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, and a Manse for Rev. Ronald MacLeod, 1911, a commission won in a competition (Vancouver Daily World, 13 Oct. 1911, 22, descrip.)
NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C., a 2 storey warehouse for Walker & Woods, on The Esplanade '...adjoining the office of Brackman & Ker', 1912 (The Express (North Vancouver), 26 March 1912, 8, t.c.; and 12 April 1912, 8, descrip.)
NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C., proposal for a Shopping Arcade, Waiting Rooms and stores at the entrance to the Ferry Wharf, for the City of Vancouver Ferry, on The Esplanade, 1912 (The Express (North Vancouver), 31 May 1912, 3; Daily News-Advertiser (Vancouver), 31 May 1912, 6, detailed descrip.)


FREDERICTON, N.B., Legislative Building, 1879. Dewar was one of 14 competitors who submitted plans for this important commission (American Architect & Building News [Boston], v, 5 April 1879, 109). His scheme was not premiated, and J.C. Dumaresq was awarded First Prize.
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND, Municipal Buildings, 1881. Nearly 100 architects from Great Britain and Ireland submitted designs in this important competition. The design by Dewar, marked with pseudonym "Crescent in Square" was described as "...a clever drawing, but conceived in a far too ornate style. It certainly is a medley of Venetian and Moorish detail" (Building News [London], xxxix, 17 Sept. 1880, 320, descrip.)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, Colston Street United Presbyterian Church, 1881. Dewar was one of over 20 architects who submitted plans for this church, and he received First Prize (The Architect [London], xxv, 9 April 1881, 262, descrip.; Builder [London], xl, 23 April 1881, 503)