Why I Love The Architects of Toronto
Birth: October 31, 1850 (Toronto)
Death: January 2, 1919 (Toronto)
Biography: At one point in Toronto crossing from Bloor directly to the Danforth was a hassle because of the Don Valley below. There was no easy way for people to get around other than going south and back up north or vice versa. However, that was all changed when Edmund Burke built the stunning Prince Edward Viaduct that connected Bloor to the Danforth.
Born on Halloween to William Burke and Sarah Langley (yes, Burke was related to Henry Langley hence his participation in the family firm Langley, Langley and Burke) in Toronto. It was Uncle Henry Langley who gave him his first architectural apprenticeship. After the apprenticeship with his uncle he went into a partnership with him.
Burke would eventually work on his own for a few years before becoming part of the firm Burke and Horwood and later the firm Burke, Horwood and White. All three men were taught by Burke’s uncle and were well known for their portfolio of churches, mansions and commercial establishments. One of my favorite buildings that Burke contributed to with Horwood was The Bay’s Flagship location on Queen (then Robert Simpson Store). The original building was done solely by Burke, but burned down weeks before it was set to open. Then with the help of Horwood the two were able to rebuild the structure – which made headlines for being fire-proof.
Burke, Horwood and White would have one of the most successful architectural firms before World War One in Canada. After Burke died in 1919 the firm dropped his name an became Horwood and White until it dissolved in 1969.
The active Torontonian also worked with the city in their urban planning efforts. One of his major projects was improving the flow of traffic in Toronto, in which one of the solutions became the Prince Edward Viaduct.
Burke also helped pave the wave for many of the architects on this list to work in the profession. He played a vital role in helping codify standards of practice and education for the architectural field for he wanted to ensure that Canadian architects could compete with those of the United States. He established and led the Ontario Association of Architects and was a founding member of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada.
I have to love Burke simply because he built the structure that would house one of my favourite stores The Bay – which I told my friend is my adult version of Disneyland. However, Burke and his firm’s contributions to churches, banks and schools will forever be focal points in the Toronto architectural landscape.
Edmund Burke Featured in Why I Love Toronto
- 299 Queen Street West (Former Methodist Church of Canada with Horwood and White)
- Admission Office (315 Bloor Street West with Horwood)
- Bank of British North America (The Irish Embassy – 1903 alteration with Horwood)
- Bathurst Street Theatre (addition with Horwood)
- The Bay on Queen Street West (Original build, 1900 and 1908 addition with Horwood and 1912 addition with Horwood and White)
- McMaster Hall (The Royal Conservatory of Music with Langley and Langley)
- Osgoode Hall (1897 addition with Horwood)
- Prince Edward Viaduct
- St. James Cathedral (addition with Langley and Langley)
- Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church (Sunday School with Horwood & White)