Lyon, Robert

LYON, Robert (1879-1963), a gifted designer and delineator who was active in Vancouver, B.C. in 1911-20, and later in Penticton, B.C. from 1922 until 1958. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 8 November 1879, he served a five-year apprenticeship as a carpenter there from 1896 to 1901 while taking night classes in architecture and building construction at Heriot Watt Technical College. After graduating he became a pupil in the office of Lessels & Taylor in Edinburgh from 1901 to 1903, assisting them with their competition-winning designs for the Public Library at Stirling, Scotland (1901), and for the Public Library at Maryhill, Scotland (1903). He then worked as an architect’s assistant for various firms in Scotland, and left for New York City in late 1908, remaining there for a year before returning to Scotland.

Lyon emigrated to Canada in 1910, and settled in Vancouver where he obtained a position as an architectural engineer with the British Columbia Electric Railway Company in 1911. He honed his skill as a designer and delineator, preparing remarkably sophisticated designs for BCER railway and power stations, most notably the Collegiate Gothic treatment applied to the Buntzen Power House No. 2 at Indian Arm (1913-14). In 1914 he was one of thirty architects from the United States and Canada to submit a design in the competition for the Vancouver Civic Centre. His entry was not among the three finalists. The competition was won by Theodore Korner, but that winning scheme was never built (Contract Record [Toronto], xxix, 6 Jan. 1915, 8, list of competitors).

Lyon moved to Penticton in 1922 and continued to practise there for the next thirty years. His most significant design from the period was the striking Art Deco design for the Post Office Building in Kelowna (1937; demol.), a refined and mature work that must be ranked as one of the finest Depression-era public buildings in Canada. Lyon was also active in local politics in Penticton, serving as town councillor in 1929-32 and in 1943-44, and later as Mayor of the newly designated City of Penticton in 1948 to 1950. He retired from the profession in 1958 and died in Penticton, B.C. on 13 October 1963 (obituary and port. Penticton Herald, 16 Oct. 1963, 1; biog. Architectural Inst. of British Columbia, Application for Registration No. 44, 1920; biog. in D. Luxton, Building the West: The Early Architects of British Columbia, 2003, 384-87, illus.; list of works 509-10)

(works for the B.C. Electric Railway Co.)

GRANVILLE STREET RAILWAY STATION, south side of the Granville Bridge, for the B.C. Electric Railway Co., c. 1913; demol. (list of works in A.I.B.C. Application for Registration No. 44, 1920)
BURNABY, B.C., Receiving Station for the B.C. Electric Railway Co., c. 1912 (list of works in A.I.B.C. Application for Registration No. 44, 1920)
EARLES STREET POWER SUBSTATION, Earles Street at B.C. Parkway, 1912
SIDNEY, VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C., The Deep Bay Hotel, for the B.C. Electric Railway Co., c. 1913 (list of works in A.I.B.C. Application for Registration No. 44, 1920)
VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C., Brentwood Bay steam plant, for the B.C. Electric Railway Co., c. 1912; demol. (list of works in A.I.B.C. Application for Registration No. 44, 1920)
LAKE BUNTZEN, B.C., the No. 2 Power House, Indian Arm, for the B.C. Electric Railway Co., with Consulting Architects Somervell & Putnam, 1913-14 (list of works in A.I.B.C. Application for Registration No. 44, 1920; D. Luxton, 384-85, illus.)
B.C.E.R. MEN’S QUARTERS, Prior Street, an apartment block for employees of the B.C. Electric Railway Co., 1913 (list of works in A.I.B.C. Application for Registration No. 44, 1920; D. Luxton, 385, illus.)
POINT GREY, power substation, now called the Sperling Annex), Maple Crescent, for the B.C. Electric Railway Co., 1914 (list of works in A.I.B.C. Application for Registration No. 44, 1920)
HORNE PAYNE SUBSTATION, Lougheed Highway at Boundary Rd., Burnaby, 1916

(works in Vancouver and elsewhere)

BURNABY, B.C., ornamental gates to Central Park, in the Kingsway neighbourhood, 1913-14 (D. Luxton, list of works)
PENTICTON, B.C., Masonic Building, 1927 (drawings in the Royal Bank Archives, Montreal)
PENTICTON, B.C., residence for Hugh C. M. Leir, Manor Park Avenue, 1927-29 (D. Luxton, 509-10, list of works)
PENTICTON, B.C., Three Gables Hotel, Main Street, 1932-33; later destroyed by fire (Canadian Hotel Review, xi, Oct. 1933, 38)
PENTICTON, B.C., Federal Government Building & Post Office, Main Street at Nanaimo Avenue, 1935-37 (British Columbian [New Westminster], 4 Sept. 1935, 2; D. Luxton, 386, illus.)
KELOWNA, B.C., Federal Government Building & Post Office, Bernard Avenue at Ellis Street, 1937; demol. 1973 (D. Luxton, 387, illus.; Tim Morawetz, Art Deco Architecture Across Canada, 2017, 64, illus. & descrip.)
KELOWNA, B.C., residence for Gordon D. Loane, Abbott Street, 1937 (D. Luxton, 386, list of works; Tim Morawetz, Art Deco Architecture Across Canada, 2017, 163-65, illus. & descrip.)
KELOWNA, B.C., residence for William B. Hughes-Games, 1939 (D. Luxton, 386, list of works)
PENTICTON, B.C., residence for Judge L. McLeod Colquhoun, Lakeshore Drive West, 1939 (D. Luxton, 509-10, list of works)
PENTICTON, B.C., The Penticton Herald Newspaper Building, Nanaimo Avenue, c. 1939 (D. Luxton, 509-10, list of works)
PENTICTON, B.C., Municipal Hall, 1940; demol. (D. Luxton, 509-10, list of works; Tim Morawetz, Art Deco Architecture Across Canada, 2017, 78, illus. & descrip.)
OYAMA, B.C., cold storage building for the Vernon Fruit Union, 1944 (C.R., xvii, 28 June 1944, 29)
KEREMEOS, B.C., public school for School District No. 16, 1949 (C.R., lxii, Sept. 1949, 158)