Wallace, Arthur William

WALLACE, Arthur William (1903-1978) was an architect, historian, collector and bibliophile who worked in Hamilton, Ont. from 1946 until his retirement in 1971. He was born on 22 August 1903 at Staten Island, New York where his father was employed as manager of the Wall Street branch of the Bank of Montreal. He was a direct descendant of Michael Wallace, Provincial Treasurer of Nova Scotia in the early nineteenth century and after whom the town of Wallace, Nova Scotia was named. The family moved to Winnipeg in 1908 and the following year relocated in Vancouver; a new appointment for Wallace's father necessitated yet another move in 1913, this time to Halifax where the young Wallace became impressed with the Georgian architecture and streetscape reminiscent of eighteenth century London. His mother, a graduate of McGill University, encouraged her son to enroll in the School of Architecture at McGill in 1922 and it was here that Ramsay Traquair and Percy Nobbs awakened his interest in recording and preparing measured drawings of historic buildings in the province of Quebec. Many of Wallace's drawings were subsequently published in Traquair's landmark work entitled The Old Architecture of Quebec (1947). He worked in the office of Nobbs & Hyde during the summer of 1923 and graduated from McGill University in 1926. He travelled to New York City and took a position with McKenzie, Voorhees & Gmelin in August, 1927 and during the next four years assisted with the design of large exchange buildings for the New York Telephone Company.

Wallace returned to Nova Scotia in mid-1931 and during the next two years devoted most of his time to photographing and measuring early Nova Scotia buildings (R.A.I.C. Journal, vii, Aug. 1930, 277-82; viii, Nov. 1931, 392-400; ix, Sept. 1932, 208-12; x, May 1933, 97-100, illus.). His drawings formed the basis of his book published in 1976 by the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia entitled An Album of Drawings of Early Buildings of Nova Scotia. In 1935 he travelled to London, England and worked as a draftsman for B.W.H. Scott, for W. Ralph Low, and for Wallis, Gilbert & Partners until 1939 when he joined the War Office in England to assist with the design of industrial and military buildings for the Directorate of Fortifications and Works in France and the Middle East. In 1946 Wallace returned to Hamilton, Ont. and established a partnership with Lester Husband and Hugh Robertson with whom he remained until the dissolution of the office in 1969 (see list of works under Husband & Wallace). Much of his work after 1950 involved major restoration projects for residences, churches, military fortifications and museums; the largest project he undertook was at Dundurn Castle, the palatial residence of Sir Allan MacNab in Hamilton (restored 1964-67). Wallace died in Hamilton in 1978, and his extensive architectural library of more than one thousand books was auctioned in Toronto on 27 May 1981. The National Archives of Canada acquired the Wallace Collection of more than 20,000 photographs, clippings, maps, drawings and articles on architecture and style in 1982 (biography in A.W. Wallace, Album of Drawings of Early Buildings of Nova Scotia, 1976; inf. Ken Wallace; Mail-Star [Halifax], 15 Jan. 1977, 35; biography in M. Rosinski, Architects of Nova Scotia: A Biographical Dictionary, 1994, 276-77)