Wood, Arthur Colpoys

WOOD, Arthur Colpoys (1863-1938) was active in Toronto and is best known for his collaboration with the real estate developer Robert Home Smith on several projects for his property holdings in the Kingsway neighbourhood of Etobicoke in west Toronto. Born in Ruddington, Co. Nottinghamshire, England in April 1863, he came from a family with deep roots in the Anglican Church of England. His great-grandfather John B. Sumner was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1848 to 1862, and his father was Andrew Wood, Canon of Lincoln Cathedral. A. Colpoys Wood was a pupil of a London architect Charles L. Luck (in 1881-84), and worked as an assistant in the office of a leading London architect Sir Arthur W. Blomfield (in 1885-86). He became a member of the Royal Inst. of British Architects in 1887, and formed a partnership with Maurice B. Teulon, son of the prominent Victorian architect Samuel S. Teulon, in the town of Crowborough Cross, Co. Sussex, as Teulon & Wood. When Teulon died in 1899, Wood continued to practise under his own name there (The Architect’s & Surveyor’s Directory [London], 1907, 169).

Wood was considered an expert in the Tudor and Elizabethan styles of English architecture, and he possessed a wide-ranging knowledge of scholarly detail used in buildings from this era. At the age of 52 years, he was brought to Canada by the Massey family to join the staff of Sproatt & Rolph and assist them with preparation of drawings for Hart House at the Univ. of Toronto. He remained in that office until 1923, then worked briefly for Chapman & Oxley, and for Molesworth, West & Secord from 1924 to early 1925, then opened his own office on Bloor Street in May 1925 (Const., xviii, June 1925, 20). In 1928 he was hired by the property developer R. Home Smith who had assembled a large tract of land north Bloor Street West and east of Royal York Road called Kingway Park, intended to be a unique residential development of over 600 homes. Wood was one of a coterie of architects hired by R. Home Smith to staff his architectural department in 1928, and they included Theo G. Mueller, William Ferguson, and Hanks & Irwin, but it was Wood who was given the prestige commission of designing the Office and Administration Building of the R. Home Smith Co. on Old Mill Road (1928), and the commission to design Smith’s personal residence on South Drive in a Tudor Revival style (1929). His interpretation of the prescribed English style for these buildings was fastidious and original, and he used these projects to demonstrate his skill and virtuosity as a designer. He continued to work in the Home Smith office until at least 1936.

Wood died in Toronto on 28 May 1938 (death notice Globe & Mail [Toronto], 30 May 1938, 24; obit. R.A.I.C. Journal, xv, July 1938, 167; biog. R.I.B.A. [London], Directory of British Architects 1834-1914, 2001, ii, 1045; inf. Ontario Assoc. of Architects). A photographic portrait of Wood can be found in E. Ingolfsrud & A. Keefer, Kingsway Park: Triumph in Design, 1994, 8-9.

TORONTO, ONT., residence for an unnamed client, Park Road, 1926 (Const., xx, Jan. 1927, 33, illus.)
ETOBICOKE, ONT., Old Mill Tea Gardens, Old Mill Road, 1928 (Const., xxii, Aug. 1929, 243-7, 255-6, illus. & descrip.)
ETOBICOKE, ONT., offices for Home Smith Co., Old Mill Road, 1928 (Const., xxii, Aug. 1929, 248-50, illus.)
ETOBICOKE, ONT., residence for R. Home Smith, South Drive, 1929 (C.R., xliii, 19 June 1929, 114; Const., xxiii, Aug. 1930, 248-54, 256-60, illus. & descrip.)
ETOBICOKE, ONT., Bank of Nova Scotia, Old Mill Road, an addition to the Administration Building of Home Smith & Co., 1930 (Toronto Star, 18 July 1930, 25; Const., xxiv, Sept. 1931, 299, illus.)
ETOBICOKE, ONT., wrought iron gates and stone piers at the entrance to The Kingsway, in the Humber Memorial Valley Surveys, with bronze plaque containing poem by Wilson McDonald, a prominent Canadian poet (Daily Commercial News [Toronto], 8 Jan. 1936, 3, descrip.)