Macnab, Frederick John

MACNAB, Frederick John (1885-1961) was the successor to W.J. Carmichael as Chief Architect for the Bell Telephone Co. Born in Dundee, Scotland on 24 March 1885, he served his apprenticeship with the Dundee architectural firm of Johnston & Baxter from 1901 to 1906. He emigrated to Canada in 1906 and settled at Montreal, Que. where he accepted a position as a junior draftsman in the architectural department of the Bell Telephone Co., working under the direct supervision of W.J. Carmichael. Macnab gained valuable experience from his mentor, and assisted him with the production of working drawings for over 100 exchange buildings, warehouses and vehicle garages erected for Bell or for Northern Electric Co., an equipment subsidiary of Bell Telephone. He was transferred to Toronto in 1922, and was appointed as Assistant Architect for Bell Telephone in 1924, working from the regional office of the company in Toronto. After the death of W.J. Carmichael in May 1927 he succeeded him as Chief Architect and moved back to Montreal the following year.

Macnab held that post until his retirement in 1953, and was responsible for introducing a more modern and contemporary style and appearance to Bell offices and exchange buildings. Unlike the bold and robust Beaux-Arts style of Carmichael’s work, Macnab adopted a lighter, more streamlined aesthetic to Bell facilities in Ontario and Quebec. One of his best works was the stripped classical design of the Bell Regional Office in London, Ont. (1939-40), a work that was almost certainly influenced by his collaboration with Ernest Barott, a leading Montreal architect who designed the Bell Regional Office in Ottawa just two years before in 1936-37.

Macnab retired from his post with Bell in June 1953 and later returned to Scotland. He died at Ayr, Scotland on 12 June 1961 (obit. and port. Montreal Star, 13 June 1961, 23; obit. and port. Montreal Gazette, 13 June 1961, 33; biog. Montreal Gazette, 30 May 1953, 23; biog. The Blue Bell [Montreal], July-Aug. 1953, 9; inf. Ontario Association of Architects). An lengthy essay by Macnab entitled “The Modern Telephone Building” on the construction and recent technological innovations of Exchange building design, was published in the R.A.I.C. Journal, xxviii, Oct. 1951, 15-17.

WINDSOR, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., Parent Avenue, garage and warehouse, 1927 (dwgs. In the Moore Coll., D.B. Weldon Library, Univ. of Western Ontario)
TORONTO, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., Eglinton Avenue East near Yonge Street, exchange, 1927 (City of Toronto b.p. 97335, 7 April 1927)
QUEBEC CITY, QUE., Bell Telephone Co., Notre Dame des Anges Street, large vehicle garage, 1927 (Quebec City b.p. 1475, 26 Aug. 1927)
MONTREAL, QUE., Bell Telephone Co., St. Antoine Street West at Atwater Avenue, the Wilbank Exchange Building, 1927-28; with addition of a new floor above the existing building, 1932 (Daily Commercial News [Toronto], 20 Aug. 1927, 5; Canadian Hotel Review, viii, March 1930, 47, illus. in advert.; Gazette [Montreal], 9 April 1932, 4; inf. Scott Edwards)
OUTREMONT, QUE., Bell Telephone Co., Durocher Avenue at Hutchison Street, warehouse and garage, 1928 (City of Outremont b.p. 2440, 28 Aug. 1928)
QUEBEC CITY, QUE., Bell Telephone Co., Lavigueur Street at Ste. Claire Street, exchange, 1929-30 (C.R., xliii, 9 Oct. 1929, 58; xliv, 5 Feb. 1930, 57)
LONDON, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., Colborne Street at Oxford Street, repeater station, 1930 (C.R., xliv, 26 March 1930, 63; 16 April 1930, 69)
HAMILTON, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., Baker Exchange, 1929-30 (R.A.I.C. Journal, vii, June 1930, p. xviii, illus. in advert.)
TORONTO, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., Dufferin Street near Bloor Street West, major addition, 1931 (City of Toronto b.p. 25976, 19 Aug. 1931)
MONTREAL, QUE., Bell Telephone Co., Belmont Street, toll building, 1932-33 (C.R., xlvi, 14 Sept. 1932, 46)
MONTREAL, QUE., Bell Telephone Co., Cote des Neiges Road at Kent Avenue, the Atlantic Exchange Building, 1936-37 (C.R., Vol. L, 13 Jan. 1937, 31; dwgs. Bell Telephone Co. Archives, Montreal)
ARNPRIOR, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., John Street, central office and Common Battery Building, 1937 (C.R., Vol. L, 17 Nov. 1937, 34)
GANANOQUE., ONT., Bell Telephone Co., Stone Street, exchange, 1937-38 (C.R., Vol. L, 1 Dec. 1937, 30; li, 12 Jan. 1938, 28-9, t.c.)
STE. ANNE DE BELLEVUE, QUE., Bell Telephone Co., exchange, 1938 (C.R., li, 12 Jan. 1938, 29)
NORTH YORK, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., Yonge Street near Empress Avenue, exchange, 1938 (C.R., li, 27 April 1938, 45)
(with Ernest Barott) OTTAWA, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., Albert Street at O’Connor Street, exchange and offices, 1936-37 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xv, March 1938, 72; May 1938, 114-15, illus.)
HAMILTON, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., Main Street East at London Street, exchange, 1938-39 (C.R., li, 30 Nov. 1938, 32-3; lii, 4 Jan. 1939, 29)
ST. LAMBERT, QUE., Bell Telephone Co. Exchange, Elm Street, 1939 (Montreal Daily Star, 27 Feb. 1939, 29; Gazette [Montreal], 18 Aug. 1939, 9, illus. & descrip.; inf. Yves Guillet, St. Lambert)
LONDON, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., Clarence Street at Dufferin Avenue, exchange, 1939-40 (C.R., lii, 30 Aug. 1939, 29, t.c.; liv, 1 Jan. 1941, 22-3, illus. & descrip.; London Free Press, 12 Aug. 1940, 7, illus. & descrip. ; Building in Canada [Toronto], xx, Autumn 1940, 78, illus.; R.A.I.C. Journal, xix, July 1942, 152, illus.)
KITCHENER, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., Water Street North, exchange, 1940 (C.R., liv, 1 Jan. 1941, 23, descrip.)
MONTREAL, QUE., Bell Telephone Co., Sherbrooke Street East, the Clairval Exchange, 1940 (Building in Canada [Toronto], xx, Autumn 1940, 78, illus.; C.R., liv, 1 Jan. 1941, 23, illus.)
SUDBURY, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., Cedar Street at Lisgar Street, exchange, 1940-41 (C.R., liii, 7 Feb. 1940, 22, t.c.; liv, 1 Jan. 1941, 23, descrip.)
KINGSTON, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., Clarence Street at King Street, exchange, 1941 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xix, March 1942, 45-6, illus.)
VERDUN, QUE., Bell Telephone Co., Bannatyne Avenue, exchange, 1945-46 (C.R., lviii, Nov. 1945, 112)
ST. CATHARINES, ONT., Bell Telephone Co., King Street, exchange, 1946 (City of St. Catherines b.p. 1067.4, 1946)