Roper, John Bethune

ROPER, John Bethune (1903-1975), an American-born architect active in Ottawa, Ont. from 1933 onward. He was a native of Hendersonville, North Carolina, born there on 15 September 1903, and he was brought to Canada by his family who settled in British Columbia. He attended the Collegiate School in Victoria B.C. (1912-15), and the Lakefield Preparatory School near Peterborough, Ont. (1915-19), then returned to Victoria to study at the Royal Naval College of Canada in Esquimalt in 1919-22. Roper moved to Toronto in 1922 to study architecture at the University of Toronto, but it would not be until 1929 when he finally graduated with a degree in architecture.

In the interim period, he worked briefly for Langley & Howland in 1925, and for W.L. Somerville in 1926, both in Toronto. That same year, he left for London, England to work in the office of Sir Aston Webb & Sons (in 1926-27), then went to New York City to obtain further experience as assistant to James W. O’Connor (in 1927-28). His most important training was obtained with John Russell Pope, an influential master of American Beaux-Arts classicism, and Roper remained in that office from 1928 to 1932, assisting Pope with drawings for major projects in Baltimore, Washington and at Yale University. In 1933 Roper moved to Ottawa where he opened an office under his own name. His most impressive work from this period was the Administration Building for the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa (1934-36), executed in a refined collegiate Gothic style.

In 1936 he invited Henry J. Morin to form a partnership with him in Ottawa, and much of their work was for large private residences, many located in Rockcliffe Park. By 1941, however, Roper had essentially terminated his architectural practise. During WWII he again became involved with the Royal Canadian Navy, holding responsibility for the planning and coordination of Navy Shore establishments, and, after 1950, he supervised the Naval post-war construction programme of approximately 145 major construction projects from Newfoundland to the Queen Charlotte Islands. Roper died in Ottawa on 8 June 1975 (death notice Ottawa Citizen, 9 June 1975, 22; biog. information from the Ontario Association of Architects, and from the Province of Quebec Assoc. of Architects).


CLEMOW AVENUE, residence for E. Gordon Gowling, c. 1933 (inf. Ontario Assoc. of Architects)
ISLANDS PARK DRIVEWAY, residence for Luke W. Pearsall, c. 1933 (inf. Ontario Assoc. of Architects)
REGENT COURT APARTMENTS, Regent Street, c. 1933 (inf. Ontario Assoc. of Architects)
CHAPEL STREET, near Laurier Avenue East, two houses "in the Georgian style" on the site of the former residence of Mr. Shirley E. Woods, 1934 (Ottawa Journal, 20 April 1934, 1 & 5, descrip.)
BLACKBURN AVENUE, near Laurier Avenue East, two houses "in the French style" on the site of the former residence of Mr. Shirley E. Woods, 1934 (Ottawa Journal, 20 April 1934, 1 & 5, descrip.)
CENTRAL EXPERIMENTAL FARM, William Saunders Administration Building, Carling Avenue, 1934-36 (C.R., xlviii, 1 Aug. 1934, 29; Building in Canada, 23 Feb. 1935, 8, illus.; March 1938, 29, illus.; Ottawa Journal, 7 June 1936, 2, illus. & descrip.)
ROCKCLIFFE PARK, residence for Col. Shirley E. Woods, Lansdowne Road, 1937-38 (H. Kalman, Exploring Ottawa, 1983, 135)


ROCKCLIFFE PARK, residence for L. Dana Wilgress, Mariposa Road, 1936 (C.H.G., xiv, April 1937, 32, illus.)
PARKDALE AVENUE, at Ruskin Road, residence for A.R. Mosher, 1936 (Ottawa Journal, 15 April 1936, 14)
THE MAJOR APARTMENTS, Wilbrod Street at Cumberland Street, with adjacent triplex, for Major Investments Ltd., 1937 (C.R., Vol. 50, 7 April 1937, 38; Ottawa Journal, 4 June 1937, 10; 11 June 1937, 13)
ST. MATTHAIS ANGLICAN CHURCH, Parkdale Avenue at Warwick Place, begun in 1938-39, but construction suspended; church later completed by A.J. Hazelgrove in 1948-49 (C.R., li, 30 Nov. 1938, 31; Gazette [Montreal], 25 July 1939, 6; inf. Scott Edwards)
ROCKCLIFFE PARK, residence for Harold G. Vail, Park Road, 1937 (C.H.G., xv, Jan/Feb 1938, 24-5, illus.)
ISLAND PARK DRIVE, residence for Edward M. Walsh, 1937 (C.H.G., xv, March 1938, 36, illus.)
METCALFE STREET, at Gloucester Street, apartment block for an unnamed owner, 1938 (C.R., li, 16 March 1938, 31)
PICCADILLY AVENUE, residence for the architect J.B. Roper, 1938 (C.H.G., xvi, Jan/Feb 1939, 22, illus.)
ROCKCLIFFE PARK, residence for Fred G. Newman, Ashbury Avenue, 1938 (C.H.G., xvi, Jan/Feb 1939, 22, illus.)
ROCKCLIFFE PARK, large residence for Mr. Shirley E. Woods, Hemlock Road at Lansdowne Road, 1939 (Ottawa Journal, 4 April 1939, 4)
ST. GEORGE'S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, Piccadilly Avenue near Bassett Lane, addition of a new Sunday School for the church, 1939 (Ottawa Journal, 26 Aug. 1939, 10, descrip.)
(with Victor Belcourt) McEVOY BROS. FUNERAL HOME, Kent Street at Nepean Street, 1939-40 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 6 Jan. 1940, 22, illus.)
(with Victor Belcourt) W.J. CARSON LTD., new facade and extensive alterations to retail store, Laurier Avenue West near Bank Street, 1940; demol. (Ottawa Journal, 12 April 1940, 3, illus. & descrip.)
ROCKCLIFFE PARK, residence for Duncan K. MacTavish, Thorold Road, 1940 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xviii, June 1941, 104, illus.; C.H.G., xix, Jan/Feb 1942, 26-7, illus.)