Ryrie, Jack

RYRIE, Jack (1903-1988), son of Harry Ryrie, a wealthy Toronto jeweller, philanthropist, and member of the Ryrie/Birks family, was born in Toronto on 23 March 1903 and educated at Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ont. He studied architecture at the University of Toronto under Prof. Eric Arthur and graduated in 1925, then worked briefly for Craig & Madill before moving to France. In October 1926 he was one of three Canadian architectural students awarded a scholarship to study at the Fontainebleau School of Fine Arts in France, established by the prominent American architect Lloyd Warren in 1924 (Toronto Star Weekly, 9 Oct. 1926, 61, 70, illus.). Together with the other prize winners, Eric C. Horwood and W. Harland Steele, he completed the three month course in France, then returned to Canada and obtained a Masters degree in Architecture from the Univ. of Toronto in 1927. Later that same year both he and Eric Horwood collaborated on submitting a design in the competition for the North West Entrance Bridge to Hamilton, Ontario (R.A.I.C. Journal, v, April 1928, 131). Their scheme, one of sixteen submitted, was not among the finalists however, and Earle L. Sheppard was awarded the First Premium of $2,000 and the commission. Ryrie then worked briefly for Molesworth, West & Secord, and as assistant to Mackenzie Waters on the important commission for Maple Leaf Gardens Arena in Toronto, but his role as local associate architect in the project is unclear, since virtually all the drawings for this landmark came from the office of Ross & MacDonald of Montreal.

In 1934 Dyce Saunders invited Ryrie to form a new partnership in Toronto (see list of works under Saunders & Ryrie) and much of their work was concentrated on commissions for private houses in the Rosedale and Forest Hill neighbourhoods of Toronto. With the outbreak of WWII, the partnership was dissolved in 1940 and Ryrie joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, serving until 1944. In 1945 he joined the firm of Mathers & Haldenby, and led the team responsible for the design and construction of the Sigmund Samuel Canadiana Gallery on Queen’s Park Crescent in Toronto (1949-50). He left that firm in 1955, and continued to work independently, or with other architectural firms, while promoting his own interests in philanthropy from the Ryrie family fortune. He died in Toronto on 27 March 1988 (death notice Globe & Mail [Toronto], 30 March 1988, A 17; biog. Who’s Who in Canada, 1936-37, 959; inf. Univ. of Toronto Archives, Grier File for Jack Ryrie). A detailed biography of the career and work of Ryrie was published in the Trinity College School Annual Report 2004-2005 [Port Hope], 22-23, illus. A small collection of drawings by Ryrie, and by Saunders & Ryrie, is now held at the Ontario Archives in Toronto.

WESTMOUNT, QUE., residence for Gerald A. Birks, Summit Circle, 1930 (C.R., xliv, 12 March 1930, 128, t.c.; Year Book of the Toronto Chapter: Ontario Association of Architects, 1933, Plates 20 and 71, illus.)
(with Ross & MacDonald and Mackenzie Waters) TORONTO, ONT., Maple Leaf Gardens, Carlton Street at Church Street, 1930-31; interior altered 2010-11 (R.A.I.C. Journal, viii, Oct. 1931, 359, illus.; Const., xxiv, Nov. 1931, 368-72, 374-76, illus. & descrip.; Tim Morawetz, Art Deco Architecture Across Canada, 2017, 264-67, illus. & descrip.)
(with Molesworth, West & Secord) TORONTO, ONT., Ryrie Buildings, Yonge Street, north of Bloor Street East, a row of six stores and offices, 1929-30; demol. C. 1972 (Toronto b.p. 11839, 18 Oct. 1929; Const., xxv, July 1932, 161-2, illus. & descrip.)


HAMILTON, ONT., North West Entrance to the City, 1927-28. Sixteen firms submitted designs in this competition for a series of parks, gardens and a high level bridge on lands adjacent to Dundurn Castle (Hamilton Spectator, 20 March 1928, 23, list of competitors). The scheme by Jack Ryrie and Eric Horwood was not premiated (R.A.I.C. Journal, v, April 1928, 131). Earle Sheppard of Toronto won First Prize of $2,000, but his winning design was not built.