RALSTON, William (1886-c. 1970), a native of Dunbarton, Scotland, was born on 23 February 1886 and educated at the Glasgow & West of Scotland Technical College. He articled with James Miller of Glasgow and emigrated to Canada in 1910 or 1911. In Toronto he took a position as assistant in the office of Wickson & Gregg (in 1912) and with John M. Lyle (in 1913). After WWI he joined Darling & Pearson and assisted them in 1921 with the final scheme for Trinity College, Hoskin Avenue (built 1922-25). Several of his signed drawings for the College are now held at the Trinity College Archives. In 1922 he moved to Windsor, Ont. and formed a partnership with fellow Scotsman David J. Cameron, who had also worked in the office of Darling & Pearson before WWI (see list of works under Cameron & Ralston). Much of their reputation came from Ralston's successful collaboration with the Canada Mausoleum Co. Ltd., who commissioned the firm to design more than a dozen structures in public cemeteries across Ontario. After the dissolution of their firm in late 1929 Ralston returned to Toronto and continued to design mausoleum facilities in Alberta and Ontario.
His skills as a residential designer came to national attention in 1936 when he was declared winner in the Small House Competition for the federal government. In sharp contrast to the conservative neo-Georgian styles that dominated residential architecture in the 1930's, the jury selected Ralston's progressive and distinctly avant-garde design from more than 500 schemes submitted by architects from across Canada. His success was immediately followed by awards in other housing competitions sponsored by the Ontario Government and the T. Eaton Department Store chain. He retired from practise after 1960 (inf. Prov. of Quebec Assoc. of Architects). A photographic portrait of Ralston was published in the Daily Commercial News [Toronto], 28 April 1936, p. 1.
WINDSOR, ONT., a new architectural office for William Ralston, Architect and his staff, located in the Canada Building, 1930 (Border Cities Star [Windsor], 3 Feb. 1930, 3, descrip.)
EDMONTON, ALTA., mausoleum at Edmonton Cemetery, 107 Avenue at 118 Street, 1930 (Edmonton b.p. 702, 1930; C.R., xliv, 30 July 1930, 61)
OTTAWA, ONT., mausoleum at Beechwood Cemetery, 1931-32 (Ottawa Journal, 30 March 1931, 15, illus. & descrip.; C.R., xlvi, 27 Jan. 1932, 49; R.A.I.C. Journal, ix, Dec. 1932, 266, illus.)
KITCHENER, ONT., mausoleum for St. Peter's Lutheran Church Cemetery, 1932 (C.R., xlv, 23 Dec. 1931, 46)
BARRIE, ONT., mausoleum, 1933 (C.R., xlvii, 13 Sept. 1933, 33)
OUTREMONT, QUE., residence for Arthur L. Gravel, McDougall Avenue, 1937 (F. Remillard & B. Merrett, Montreal Architecture, 1990, 189, illus.)
SUDBURY, ONT., mausoleum, 1938 (C.R., li, 30 March 1938, 50)
TORONTO, ONT., residence for Ian MacLaren, Glen Edyth Place, 1938 (C.H.G., xvi, Jan./Feb. 1939, 26-7, illus.; R.A.I.C. Journal, xvii, Feb. 1940, 25, illus.)
REGINA, SASK., WW1 War Memorial Cenotaph, Victoria Park, 1926. Ralston was one of 51 architects and artists who submitted a design in this national competition (Morning Leader [Regina], 9 Feb. 1926, 1, full list of competitors). The winner was Robert G. Heughan of Montreal.
DOMINION HOUSING ACT, Small House Competition, 1936. The jury received 526 submissions from across Canada and Ralston was awarded First Prize for a decidedly modernist scheme in a national competition sponsored by the federal housing agency (Financial Post [Toronto], 2 May 1936, 15, illus. & descrip.; R.A.I.C. Journal, xiii, May 1936, 88-9, 97, illus. & descrip.; C.H.G., xiii, Aug./Sept. 1936, 16-17, illus.). That same year the first prototype of the house was built for a client on McDougall Avenue in Outremont, Que., a suburb of Montreal. Another copy of this winning design was built on Toke Avenue in Timmins, Ont., overlooking Gillies Lake (Porcupine Advance [Timmins], 11 March 1937, Section Two, p. 1, illus. & descrip.)
T. EATON CO. SMALL HOUSE COMPETITION, 1936. Ralston was cited for an Honorable Mention for his progressive design of a private house in a national competition sponsored by the Eaton Department Store Co. (R.A.I.C. Journal, xiii, July 1936, 129, 133, illus.)
ONTARIO GOVERNMENT HOUSING COMPETITION, 1936. A total of 109 designs were sent in by architects from Ontario. Within months of winning the national competition for new house designs noted above, Ralston received First Prize in Class B and a commendation in Class A for two designs of private houses in a modernist vernacular for this provincial competition (R.A.I.C. Journal, xiii, Aug. 1936, 153, 156-7, illus. & descrip.; C.H.G., xiii, Aug./Sept. 1936, 16-17, illus.).
CANADIAN SMALL HOUSE COMPETITION, 1947. Ralston was awarded an Honorable Mention for his design of a innovative split-level design in this national competition sponsored by the Central Mortgage & Housing Corporation (C.M.H.C., Prize Winning Designs of Canadian Small House Competition, 1947, 109, illus.)