Waters, Donald Mackenzie

WATERS, Donald Mackenzie (1894-1968) was an erudite and skillful architect who played a crucial role in the introduction of international modernism in Canadian architecture. Born in Belleville, Ontario on 1 October 1894 he was the son of Donald M. Waters and attended public and high schools there. He came to Toronto in 1910 and enrolled at the School of Architecture at the University of Toronto and continued his full time study there until 1913. He worked briefly for Wickson & Gregg and interrupted his education in 1914 to serve with Canadian Forces during World War I. He was wounded in action and received the Military Cross in 1918, then returned to Toronto to complete his studies and graduate from the University in 1920. He commenced practise later that year and in 1922 formed a partnership with F. Hilton Wilkes, ostensibly to submit an entry in the competition for the Chicago Tribune Tower (The International Competition for a New Administration Building for the Chicago Tribune, 1922, plate 181, illus.). Their scheme, which proposed a conservative Beaux Arts design with a stepped tower configuration, was one of four entries prepared by Canadian architects, but the design by Hugh Jones of Montreal was the only Canadian submission to be awarded an Honourable Mention.

Waters & Wilkes dissolved their partnership in early 1926 and Waters continued to practise until after 1940, specializing in the design of new residential and commercial buildings, as well as in the restoration of historic houses. He possessed a keen awareness of the history of architecture and the evolution of period styles, and was a fastidious and scholarly Georgian revivalist. In 1926 he designed a distinctive and refined residence in this style for Mrs. Perkins Bull, South Drive, Rosedale, Toronto, in which he employed an inventive plan that acknowledges the awkward corner lot on which it is sited. The following year he designed a faithful Elizabethan half-timber facade for Ridpath's Store, Yonge Street, Toronto. By 1935 he had won more than twenty local and national awards for his residential and commercial work, and was the only architect to receive the Medal of Honour from the Toronto Chapter of the Ontario Association of Architects in 1935 for his Georgian revival design for the Gilbey Distillery Ltd. office and factory located in New Toronto, a suburb to the west of the city centre. Waters was increasingly drawn to major changes in progressive design and architecture in Europe in the mid-1930's, and he was one of the first Toronto architects to acknowledge the influence of International Modernism in his essay entitled 'The New Architecture' (Canadian Homes and Gardens, xiii, April 1936, 48). His admiration for the work of Eliel Saarinen and Alvar Aalto was clearly evident after his return from Europe (R.A.I.C. Journal, Sept. 1937, 173-5, illus.), and he undertook to introduce the uncluttered purity of the new style with his startling and refreshing design for the Deck House at the Elgin House Hotel, Lake Joseph, Muskoka, 1938. This elegant and remarkable work must rank as one of the landmarks of modernism in Canada, and it proved to be an influential project after its publication in July 1939.

Waters took an active role in the formation of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario in 1933, and served on the committee to restore Fort York, Toronto as part of that city's Centennial celebration in 1934. He was one of seven members of the Diet Kitchen Group, formed in Toronto in 1927 to promote and exhibit the work of Canadian architects, and was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy as Associate in 1936 and as a full Member in 1952. He appears to have retired from active practice after 1950 and died at Daytona Beach, Florida on 4 September 1968 (death notice in the Globe & Mail [Toronto], 5 Sept. 1968, 45; biography and port. in the National Reference Book, vi, 1940, 715-16; Who's Who in Canada, ii, 1936-7, 1114). His practise was taken over in May 1960 by the restoration architect B. Napier Simpson (1925-1978), and many drawings by Waters are now in the possession of George Kneider, Architect, Toronto.

D. Mackenzie WATERS (works in Toronto)

CLUNY DRIVE, residence for Auguste A. Bolte, 1921 (Const., xvi, Aug. 1923, 274-5, illus.; C.H.G., iii, Aug. 1926, 37, illus.)
ORIOLE GARDENS, residence for Goldwin Fleming, 1922 (Const., xvi, Aug. 1923, 273, illus.)
DUNVEGAN ROAD, residence for Robert J. McCulloch, 1923 (Const., xvi, Aug. 1923, 274-5, illus.)
(with F.H. Wilkes) HIGHLAND AVENUE, at Glen Road, residence for F. Hilton Wilkes, architect, 1923-24 (C.R., xxxvii, 19 Dec. 1923, 47)
(with F.H. Wilkes) ORIOLE ROAD, residence for Arnold C. Matthews, 1925 (C.H.G., iii, Jan 1926, 29-31, illus.; House & Garden [New York], xlviii, Dec. 1925, 71, illus.)
(with F.H. Wilkes) WALMER ROAD, residence for Henry L. Matthews, 1925 (C.H.G., iii, Jan 1926, 22, illus.)
PARK ROAD, at South Drive, residence for Mrs. Perkins Bull, 1926-27 (R.A.I.C. Journal, v, July 1928, 256-7, illus.; iii, March 1929, 95, illus.; National Post [Toronto], 8 Nov. 2002, page PM 12, illus. & descrip.)
OLD FOREST HILL ROAD, residence for Charles A. Withers, 1927 (C.R., xli, 17 Aug. 1927, 54, t.c.)
ST. CLAIR AVENUE WEST, near Forest Hill Road, residence for Dr. John Maynard, 1927 (C.H.G., iv, June 1927, 26, illus.)
RIDPATH'S LTD. SHOWROOM & STORE, Yonge Street north of Davenport Road, 1928; still standing in 2023 (C.R., xlii, 30 May 1928, 173, t.c.; Const., xxii, June 1929, 176, 178-9, illus. & descrip.)
EDMUND GATE, near Poplar Plains Road, 'Residence on the Hill' for Hume Blake, 1928-29 (Gazette [Montreal], 4 March 1929, 4, illus. in advert.; R.A.I.C. Journal, viii, March 1931, 79, 82, illus.; ix, April 1932, 99, 103, illus.; inf. Scott Edwards)
AVA CRESCENT, residence for Alfred A. Walker, 1930, described as "...an exact copy of a multi-millionaires home in Boston" (Toronto Star, 25 April 1930, 34, illus. & descrip.)
CANADIAN MILITARY INSTITUTE, University Avenue opposite Armoury Street, addition and interior alterations, 1930; still standing in 2023 (Toronto Daily Star, 8 Aug. 1930, 23)
AMERICAN NEWS CO., Wellington Street West near Portland Street, c. 1930 (National Reference Book, vi, 1940, 715-6)
POPLAR PLAINS CRESCENT, residence for George Heward, 1930 (R.A.I.C. Journal, viii, March 1931, 79, 83, illus.)
(with Ross & MacDonald and Jack Ryrie) MAPLE LEAF GARDENS, Carlton Street at Church Street, 1931; still standing in 2023 (Toronto Star, 5 March 1931, 15, illus. but lacking attribution; R.A.I.C. Journal, viii, Oct. 1931, 359, illus.; Const., xxiv, Dec. 1931, 368-76, illus. & descrip.; Tim Morawetz, Art Deco Architecture Across Canada, 2017, 264-67, illus. & descrip.)
BLOOR STREET EAST, at Church Street, shops and apartments for R.K. McConnell, 1931; demol. (Telegram [Toronto], 9 Dec. 1930, 31, illus.; Toronto Star, 30 May 1930, 33, descrip.; and 13 Feb. 1931, 31, descrip.; Const., xxv, Jan. 1932, 13-5, illus. & descrip.)
EDMUND GATE, residence for Benjamin B. Cronyn, 1931 (dwgs. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 410, File 24)
CRESCENT ROAD, residence for Sir Henry Drayton, 1932 (C.H.G., x, March 1933, 34-5, illus.)
NORTH YORK, 'Greenacres', a residence for Allen Case, Oriole Junction, 1932 (C.H.G., x, April 1933, 36-7, illus.; R.A.I.C. Journal, x, June 1933, 114, illus.)
STRATHALLAN BOULEVARD, residence for Mrs. Robert H. Easson, 1932; demol. (R.A.I.C. Journal, x, March 1933, 52, illus.)
W. & A. GILBEY DISTILLERS LTD., Eighteenth Street, in New Toronto, large distillery and warehouse, 1933 (Mail & Empire [Toronto], 19 April 1933, 3, illus. & descrip.; Toronto Daily Star, 19 April 1933, 20, descrip.; R.A.I.C. Journal, xii, Feb. 1935, 20, 23, illus.)
RUTHERFORD DRUG STORE LTD., King Street West near Bay Street, on the site of the old Manning Arcade, 1934; demol. (Toronto Daily Star, 28 Sept. 1934, 19)
FORT YORK, Bathurst Street near Strachan Avenue, restoration of the Fort, c. 1934; still standing in 2023 (National Reference Book, vi, 1940, 715-6)
ROXBOROUGH STREET EAST, residence for Mackenzie Waters, architect, 1934 (C.H.G., xii, Oct.-Nov. 1935, 36-9, illus.)
GLEN EDYTH PLACE, residence for Major-Gen. Donald M. Hogarth, 1935 (Toronto Daily Star, 3 Nov. 1933, 4, descrip.; R.A.I.C. Journal, xii, Dec. 1935, 198, 200, illus.; C.H.G., xiii, Jan.-Feb. 1936, 25-9, illus.; Globe & Mail [Toronto], 27 Sept. 2019, Real Estate Section, H8 & H9, illus. & descrip.)
EDMUND GATE, residence for Angus W. Sinclair, 1936 (dwgs. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 410, File 897)
WHITNEY AVENUE, residence for Reginald N. Boxer, 1936 (C.H.G., xiv, April 1937, 26-7, illus.)
QUEEN MARY'S DRIVE, residence for Robert C. Bannister, 1936 (C.H.G., xv, May 1938, 41, illus.; R.A.I.C. Journal, xv, March 1938, 61, illus., xvi, May 1939, 111, illus.; Financial Post [Toronto], 20 May 1939, 11, illus and descrip. in advertisement for The Algoma Steel Co.)
HERBERT HOSIERY MILLS, Coxwell Avenue, north of Casci Avenue, a remodelling of two warehouses formerly owned by the T. Eaton Co., 1937; demol. c. 1995 (Toronto Daily Star, 9 July 1937, 13, descrip.; National Reference Book, vi, 1940, 715-6)
WAGNER BRAKE CO., Edward Street, 1939 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xvi, Dec. 1939, 258, illus.)
C.A. DUNHAM CO. LTD., Davenport Road, addition to factory, 1939; demol. (R.A.I.C. Journal, xvi, Dec. 1939, 259, illus.)
DEWBORNE AVENUE, residence for Dr. G. Rupert Balfour, c. 1940 (C.H.G., xxii, June 1945, 26, illus.)
BEDFORD ROAD, at Lowther Avenue, residence and office for Mackenzie Waters, Architect, 1948 (Toronto b.p. 99012, 1948)
COMMERCIAL LIFE ASSURANCE CO., Yonge Street at Jackes Avenue, a three storey office building, 1953-54; altered c. 1985, still standing as of 2019, and now occupied by Cineplex Ltd. Head Office (Financial Post [Toronto], 21 Feb. 1953, 46, descrip.)

D. Mackenzie WATERS (works elsewhere in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia)

BELLEVILLE, ONT., War Veteran's Memorial House, in Panter Park, Coleman Street, 1920 (Border Cities Star [Windsor], 1 May 1920, 11)
(with F. Hilton Wilkes) OTTAWA, ONT., residence for Dr. Alfred Burton Wilkes, Lansdowne Road North near Lakehurst Road, overlooking McKay Lake, 1925 (Ottawa Citizen, 11 July 1925, 10, illus. in advert.)
COBOURG, ONT., residence for Mrs. E. Miles, King Street East at Green Street, c. 1925 (inf. Robert Mikel, Cobourg)
COBOURG, ONT., residence for R. Baylor Hickman, Front Road, 1926 (R.A.I.C. Journal, iii, April 1927, 148; v, March 1929, 89, illus.; C.H.G., vi, May 1929, 21, illus.)
OTTAWA, ONT., large residence for F.B. Carling, Acacia Lane, Rockcliffe Park, 1926 (Toronto Daily Star, 18 Feb. 1927, 23, list of awards; Const., xx, March 1927, 77, 79-80, illus.; R.A.I.C. Journal, iv, April 1927, 138, illus.; v, July 1928, 255, illus.; Ottawa Journal, 5 March 1976, 45, descrip. in advert.)
COBOURG, ONT., alterations and additions to 'Ravensworth', the Fitzhugh residence, with cottages for M. Blakely and Mrs. Rhodes, c. 1927 (inf. Robert Mikel, Cobourg)
BRAMPTON, ONT., War Memorial Cenotaph, Main Street at Wellington Street, 1927-28 (Toronto Daily Star, 7 June 1927, 4; inf. Peel Art Gallery, Museum & Archives, Brampton: letter from Mackenzie Waters dated 17 Sept. 1927; inf. Timothy Waters, San Francisco)
BROCKVILLE, ONT., residence for Lt. Col. John W. Langmuir, King Street East at Bennett Street, 1929 (dwgs. at NAC, Power Coll., 81203/9; C.H.G., x, March 1933, 20; and xi, Dec. 1934, 17, illus.)
CORBYVILLE, ONT., residence for Fisher Wilmore, 1929 (C.H.G., vii, Jan. 1930, 29, illus.)
COBOURG, ONT., residence for Mrs. S. Murray, Water Street, c. 1930 (inf. Robert Mikel, Cobourg)
BRAMPTON, ONT., 'Monaghan Villa', residence for Thomas W. Duggan, Main Street South at Frederick Street, 1930 (C.H.G., viii, June 1931, 38-9, illus.)
KEMPENFELDT BAY, ONT., residence for Donald M. Hogarth, 1932 (C.H.G., x, July 1933, 12-13, illus.; xi, May 1934, 26, illus.)
BROCKVILLE, ONT., residence and boathouse for George Fulford, King Street East at Rockcliffe Road, 1932 (Const., xxvi, May-June 1933, 65, illus.; C.H.G., xi, May 1934, 25, illus.)
OTTAWA, ONT., residence for Percy W. Nelles, Rideau Gate, 1934 (C.H.G., xii, June 1935, 21-4, illus.)
MURRAY BAY, QUE., residence of E. Hume Blake, 1935 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xiv, 45, illus.; C.H.G., xiv, July-Aug. 1937, 14-5, illus.; P. Dube, Deux cents ans de Villegiature dans Charlevoix, 1986, 190-92, illus.)
THORNHILL, ONT., large residence for C. George McCullagh, Bayview Avenue opposite Green Lane, 1937; still standing in 2019 and now called Shouldice Hospital (R.A.I.C. Journal, xvi, Jan. 1939, 8-11, illus.; Financial Post [Toronto], 16 May 1953, 4, illus. in advert.)
LAKE JOSEPH, MUSKOKA, ONT., "The Deck", at the Elgin House Hotel, 1938 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xvi, July 1939, 155-7, illus. & descrip.)
DEBERT, N.S., Regimental Mess Hall for the Royal Canadian Air Force, 1942 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xix, June 1942, 131, illus.)
PORT HOPE, ONT., The Peter Campbell Memorial Indoor Arena, at Trinity College School, 1949-50 (Hamilton Spectator, 22 Feb. 1950, 34, illus.)
OTTAWA, ONT., residence for Brigadier Richard J. Leach, Mariposa Avenue near Springfield Road, in Rockcliffe Park, c. 1950 (inf. Timothy Waters, San Francisco)


CHICAGO, ILL., The Chicago Tribune Tower Competition, 1922. The Toronto office of Waters & Wilkes was one of four Canadian architectural firms to submit an entry in this important international competition (see The International Competition for a New Administration Building for the Chicago Tribune, 1922, folio, plate 181, illus.). Their scheme was among 260 designs submitted by leading architects from around the world, including proposals from Walter Gropius, Adolf Loos, Eliel Saarinen, Bruno Taut, Bijvoet & Duiker and others. The winners were Howells & Hood of New York City.