Mather, James

MATHER, James (1833-1927), a leading architect in Ottawa, Ont. who maintained an office there for fifty years. Born in Usan, Scotland on 9 December 1833, he was the son of James Mather Sr., a master house carpenter, and he likely trained under his father. He was educated at Bowman Academy, Scotland, and was working in Montrose, Scotland as a carpenter in 1851. The 1871 Census of Scotland records him as an architect, yet only one major project by him has been located, that of substantial additions and alterations to Links House Hotel, Provost Scots Road, MONTROSE, SCOTLAND, 1870, said to have cost nearly L 100,000 Pounds Sterling (Historic Scotland Listed Buildings Register No. 38138). For unknown reasons, Mather decided to leave Scotland and emigrate to Canada in 1872. Shortly after his arrival, he announced that he “…intends to practise his profession of architect in the City of Ottawa….and has long practical experience in Scotland that will enable him to give every satisfaction to all those who may be pleased to employ him” (Free Press [Ottawa], 5 Dec. 1872, 2, advert.).

Mather was a proponent of the fashionable Second Empire style, best seen in his designs for key works such as the original Bytown Market (1874-75), the Wellington Ward Market (1875), and the Rideau Club House (1875). His brother, John Mather, a successful lumberman, likely was involved in arranging for his brother James Mather, located in Ottawa, to prepare the Queen Anne style design for a large residence at KEEWATIN, ONT., c. 1885, for David Mather, a son of John M., and now called the Mather-Walls House. By 1900 he had embraced many of the ideas of the Romanesque Revival style, evident in his plans for the substantial three storey block for the Bank of Ottawa in Parry Sound, Ont. (c. 1904).

Mather was one of the first professionals from eastern Ontario to join the Ontario Association of Architects on 31 October 1890. One of the lucrative appointments he received was to act as consulting architect to the Bank of Ottawa, who commissioned him to rebuild and enlarge their head office in Ottawa, and to design bank branches in several towns including Hull, Que., Parry Sound, Ont. and elsewhere. In 1893 he was lauded as a leading architect in Ottawa who “…has designed and constructed hundreds of residential and business blocks throughout the city, a list of which, if given here, would fill several columns” (Ottawa Free Press, Trade Edition, 15 July 1893, 12).

Mather retired about 1922 and later died in Ottawa on 3 October 1927, and was buried at Beechwood Cemetery in that city (obit. Ottawa Citizen, 4 Oct. 1927, 13 and 6 Oct. 1927, 15; Ottawa Journal, 4 Oct. 1927, 2; Const., xx, Oct. 1927, 342; biog. and port. Who’s Who & Why in Canada, 1915-16, 466; biog. Hector Charlesworth, Cyclopedia of Canadian Biography, 1919, 205; photographic port. in John A. Cooper, Men of Canada, 1901-02, 151; inf. Dorothy Ahlgren, NAC, Ottawa, inf. Dorothy Mather, Stittsville, Ont.). A plaque honouring Mather was placed in the Carnegie Public Library in Montrose, Co. Angus (Forfarshire), Scotland, acknowledging a substantial bequest from the estate of James Mather that was valued in excess of $66,000.


PROVINCIAL EXHIBITION BUILDINGS, for the Agricultural Society, Lansdowne Park, including the Crystal Palace, Horticultural Hall, Machinery Hall, and Poultry & Cattle Buildings, 1875 (Daily Citizen [Ottawa], 23 Nov. 1874, 4, descrip.; Free Press [Ottawa], 10 April 1875, 4, descrip.; Canadian Patent Office Record and Mechanics Magazine, iii, Oct. 1875, 296, illus.; Nov. 1875, 321-22, descrip.)
WILBROD STREET, opposite the Gaol, four houses for Huckell & Cleverly, 1875 (Free Press [Ottawa], 30 March 1875, 2, t.c.)
NEPEAN TOWNSHIP, School, Concession B, Rideau Front, 1875 (Free Press [Ottawa], 12 July 1875, 2, t.c.)
NEPEAN TOWNSHIP, School for S.S. 16, 1875 (Free Press [Ottawa], 21 Aug. 1875, 2, t.c.)
VICTORIA WARD SCHOOL, Richmond Road, 1875 (Daily Citizen [Ottawa], 6 Dec. 1875, 4, descrip.)
ST. GEORGE'S WARD SCHOOL, Besserer Street at Theodore Street, 1875 (Daily Citizen [Ottawa], 6 Dec. 1875, 4, descrip.)
BY WARD MARKET BUILDING, George Street at William Street, 1874-75 (Daily Citizen [Ottawa], 22 Sept. 1874, 3; 6 Dec. 1875, 4, descrip.; Free Press [Ottawa], 15 April 1876, 4, descrip.)
WELLINGTON WARD MARKET BUILDING, Sparks Street at Lyon Street, 1875 (Daily Citizen [Ottawa], 6 Dec. 1875, 4, descrip.; Free Press [Ottawa], 15 April 1876, 4, descrip.)
RIDEAU CLUB HOUSE, Wellington Street at Metcalfe Street, 1875 (Daily Citizen [Ottawa], 6 Dec. 1875, 4, descrip.; 10 Feb. 1876, 4, descrip.)
WELLINGTON STREET, commercial block for MacLeod Stewart 'adjacent to the Rideau Club', 1875 (Daily Citizen [Ottawa], 6 Dec. 1875, 4, descrip.)
DALY AVENUE, at King Street, residence for Benjamin Batson, 1875-76 (Daily Citizen [Ottawa] 6 Dec. 1875, 4, descrip.; Free Press [Ottawa], 22 Nov. 1876, 4)
(attributed) LAURIER AVENUE EAST, residence for John Mather (brother of James Mather, Architect), 1876; altered 1928 (Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada Bulletin, xv, Dec. 1990, 103-04, illus.; Andrew Waldron, Exploring the Capital: An Architectural Guide to the Ottawa-Gatineau Region, 2017, 81, 83, illus. & descrip.)
GEORGE STREET, at William Street, commercial building for Thomas Coffey, opposite the By Ward Market, 1876 (Free Press [Ottawa], 26 Jan. 1876, 2, t.c.)
BOLTON STREET PRIMARY SCHOOL, addition, 1876 (Daily Citizen [Ottawa], 22 April 1876, 1, t.c.)
METROPOLITAN BUILDING SOCIETY, Wellington Street 'beside the Banque Nationale', 1876 (Daily Citizen [Ottawa], 28 June 1876, 1, t.c.)
WELLINGTON WARD SCHOOL, Maria Street, 1876 (Free Press [Ottawa], 23 Aug. 1876, 2, t.c.)
DUFFERIN PRIMARY SCHOOL, Anglesea Square, 1877 (Free Press [Ottawa], 6 July 1877, 4)
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, Elgin Street at Laurier Avenue, 1877-78 (Free Press [Ottawa], 25 July 1877, 4, descrip.; Daily Citizen [Ottawa], 4 March 1878, 1, descrip.; Canadian Illustrated News, xviii, 9 Nov. 1878, 290-91, 300, illus. & descrip.)
LAURIER AVENUE EAST, at Chapel Street, residence for John Leslie, 1878; later occupied by Sir Wilfrid Laurier (list of works in obituary, Journal [Ottawa], 4 Oct. 1927, 2; Society for the Study of Architecture In Canada Bulletin, xv, Dec. 1990, 104, illus.; Andrew Waldron, Exploring the Capital: An Architectural Guide to the Ottawa-Gatineau Region, 2017, 84-5, illus. & descrip.)
SPARKS STREET, commercial block for Herbert H. Brennan and S.&H. Borbridge, 1878 (Daily Citizen [Ottawa], 18 Oct. 1878, 2, t.c.)
GRAND UNION HOTEL, Elgin Street at Queen Street, 1880-82 (Free Press [Ottawa], 28 July 1880, 4, descrip.; 1 Feb. 1882, 4, descrip.)
PUBLIC SCHOOL, in St. George's Ward, 1886 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 2 Nov. 1886, 1, descrip.)
EASTERN METHODIST CHURCH, Besserer Street at King Street, 1887 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 23 July 1887, 8, descrip.)
YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION, O'Connor Street at Queen Street, 1888; swimming pool, 1897 (Ottawa Journal, 8 Feb. 1888, 4; Globe [Toronto], 17 Jan. 1891, 2, illus.; C.R., viii, 19 Aug. 1897, 2)
BRITISH AMERICAN BANK NOTE CO., Wellington Street at Kent Street, for George B. Burland, 1887-88 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 26 May 1887, 1; 8 Feb. 1888, 4)
ALBERT STREET, at O'Connor Street, two stores and dwelling for Hamlet Allan, 1891 (Ottawa Free Press, 11 March 1891, 2)
OTTAWA COLLEGIATE INSTITUTE, Lisgar Street, addition, 1892; reconstruction after fire, 1893, additions 1902-03 (C.R., iv, 23 March 1893, 1; Ottawa Free Press, 3 Nov. 1893, 5, descrip.; A History of the Ottawa Collegiate Institute 1843-1903, 15-6)
RIDEAU STREET, commercial block for John Roberts Allan, 1893 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 25 July 1893, 5)
SLINN BLOCK, Bank Street at Maria Street, major addition, for Mrs. Slinn, 1894 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 14 May 1894, 5, descrip.)
PROTESTANT HOME FOR THE AGED, Bank Street at Centre Street, major addition, 1895 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 13 March 1895, 5, descrip.; 28 Oct. 1895, 3, descrip.; C.R., vi, 30 May 1895, 2, t.c.; Andrew Waldron, Exploring the Capital: An Architectural Guide to the Ottawa-Gatineau Region, 2017, 100-01, illus. & descrip.)
Y.M.C.A. PUBLIC SWIMMING BATHS, 1897 (Ottawa Citizen, 18 Aug. 1897, 7, descrip.)
FRENCH PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, Wellington Street, rebuilding of the church, 1901 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 23 March 1901, 14, t.c.)
RIDEAU STREET, commercial building for Robert B. Whyte, of J.G. Whyte & Son, 1901 (C.R., xii, 1 May 1901, 3)
(with Howard C. Stone) WOODS BUILDING, Slater Street, for James W. Woods, designed 1900; built 1902-03 (C.R., xiii, 22 Oct. 1902, 3; Evening Journal [Ottawa], 28 March 1900, 1, descrip.; 30 Nov. 1903, 6, descrip.)
(with Howard C. Stone) ROXBOROUGH APARTMENT HOUSE, Laurier Avenue, facing Cartier Square, 1910 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 9 April 1910, 10, illus. & descrip.; C.R., xxiv, 4 May 1910, 40-1, illus. & descrip.)
DALHOUSIE STREET, at Murray Street, stores and apartments for M. Drazin, 1910 (C.R., xxiv, 27 July 1910, 26)
ROCKCLIFFE PARK, residence for Admiral Charles E. Kingsmill, Acacia Avenue, 1910 (C.R., xxiv, 24 Aug. 1910, 25)
SLINN-SHOULDIS BAKERY, Catherine Street at Bronson Avenue, 1911 (C.R., xxv, 28 June 1911, 59)
ROBINSON BUILDING, for Hiram Robinson, Queen Street through to Sparks Street, 1911-12 (C.R., xxv, 4 Oct. 1911, 61)
STEPHEN BUILDING, Queen Street near Bank Street, a five storey block of stores and offices for R.W. Stephens, 1913 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 6 Sept. 1913, 1, descrip.; C.R., xxvii, 19 Nov. 1913, 69)
MARLBOROUGH AVENUE, residence for Col. Eugene Fiset, c. 1913 (Ottawa Journal, 20 Sept. 1913, 17, illus.)


HULL, QUE., Market Hall, 1877; burned 1900 (Free Press [Ottawa], 3 Jan. 1877, 4, descrip.)
NEPEAN TOWNSHIP HALL, Richmond Road [later called Parkdale Avenue, in Hintonburg], 1878; demol. (Free Press [Ottawa], 30 Sept. 1878, 4). This building should not be confused with the Nepean Town Hall, Richmond Road, Westboro, designed by Moses C. Edey in 1896.
(attributed) KEEWATIN, ONT., residence for David Mather, c.1885, now called the Mather-Walls House (inf. Ontario Heritage Foundation, Toronto)
ROCHESTERVILLE, ONT., Presbyterian Church, 1887 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 20 Aug. 1887, 4, t.c.; Ottawa Daily Citizen, 6 Oct. 1887, 3)
HULL, QUE., Roman Catholic Separate School, Head Street, 1888 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 14 July 1888, 5)
MATTAWA, ONT., commercial block with Masonic Lodge Room, 1891 (C.R., ii, 4 July 1891, 2)
ALYMER, QUE., a new manse for the Presbyterian Church, 1892 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 8 Dec. 1892, 2, descrip. in a Letter to the Editor)
BUCKINGHAM, QUE., mansion for Alexander MacLaren, 1894-95 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 3 Aug. 1894, 1, descrip.; C.R., vi, 14 Feb. 1895)
ARNPRIOR, ONT., additions and improvements to Public School, 1896 (C.R., vii, 14 May 1896, 2)
HULL, QUE., Bank of Ottawa, 1900 (C.R., xi, 11 July 1900, 3)
PARRY SOUND, ONT., Bank of Ottawa, James Street, c. 1904 (dwgs. at Bank of Nova Scotia Archives, Toronto)
KEMPTVILLE, ONT., Bank of Ottawa, Prescott Street, 1907 (Kemptville Telegram, 29 Aug. 1907, 4, detailed descrip.)