Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Ramsay Traquair |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||29 March 1874(?) |
|Died: ||26 August 1952 |
|Bio Notes: ||Ramsay Traquair was born in Edinburgh on 29 March 1874, the son of Dr Ramsay Heatley Traquair, Keeper of Natural History at the Museum of Science and Art in Edinburgh, and the Dublin-born painter and decorative artist Phoebe Anna Moss, better known as Phoebe Traquair. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy from 1884 to 1891, and at Edinburgh and Bonn Universities 1891-92, but did not stay to take a degree at either. He was articled to Stewart Henbest Capper in the latter year and studied at the Edinburgh School of Applied Art under Capper and Professor Frank Worthington Simon, winning the National Art Survey Scholarship in 1896. In the following year he joined the office of John More Dick Peddie and George Washington Browne, providing spare-time assistance to Robert Lorimer who was a friend of his mother, but seems not to have had a particularly close relationship with him. Traquair remained with Peddie & Washington Browne until 1899 when he decided to widen his experience in London as assistant to Samuel Bridgman Russell. He passed the qualifying exam in 1899 and was admitted ARIBA on 5 March 1900, his proposers being John Slater, Paul Waterhouse and Alexander Graham. |
Thereafter Traquair was employed by the Turkish government to make a study of the lesser Byzantine churches in the Constantinople area with Professor A van Millingen, the results of which were published. He returned to Edinburgh in 1904 to become a lecturer at the School of Applied Art, commencing independent practice in 1905. His practice was however limited by long absences at the British School of Archaeology in Athens in 1905 and again in 1906; an in 1908 he obtained the studentship of the Byzantine Research Fund which again entailed a lengthy period away from the office. He was also responsible for writing up the annual reports of the school for the years 1905-06, 1906-07 and 1908-09 which must also have been fairly time-consuming.
Although few in number, Traquair's buildings were of great distinction, closer in spirit to Lorimer's than Peddie's or Browne's in their use of carefully crafted rubble masonry. Particularly original were his Church of Christ Scientist, the oblong tower of which was inspired by that of the lost medieval church of St Giles in Elgin, and Skirling House with its economical but very stylish use of weatherboarding.
In 1909 because of his increasing commitment to his private practice Percy Erskine Nobbs resigned the Macdonald chair of architecture at McGill University in Montreal to become part-time Professor of Design at a reduced salary. Once again as in the case of both Capper and Nobbs, Principal Peterson consulted Professor Baldwin Brown of the University of Edinburgh as to who should succeed him. Initially the fact that Traquair had not taken a degree at either Edinburgh or Bonn was seen as a difficulty, but his academic record was such that Brown's recommendation was accepted and Traquair duly left Edinburgh for Montreal in 1913.
Traquair did not practise in Montreal as that had been the main cause of friction between Nobbs and Peterson, Nobbs and Hyde thereafter undertaking much of the University's business. But he became deeply involved in the study of early Canadian, and particularly French Canadian, architecture on which he published extensively. He was elevated to FRIBA in late 1920 or early 1921, his proposers being Lorimer, James Bow Dunn and Alexander Lorne Campbell.
Traquair retired in 1939 and died at Guysborough, Nova Scotia, on 26 August 1952.
'Laconia I: The mediaeval fortresses', Annual of the British School at Athens, 12, 1905-6, pp 258-76.
'Laconia II: Excavations at Sparta, 1906, § 12 - The Roman stoa and the later fortifications', Annual of the British School at Athens, 12, 1905-6, pp 415-30.
'Mediaeval fortresses of the north-western Peloponnesus', Annual of the British School at Athens, 13, 1906-7, pp 268-84.
'Laconia III: Mediaeval churches - The churches of western Mani', Annual of the British School at Athens, 15, 1908-9, pp 177-213.
'The Education of the Architect', in Const., xii, October 1919, 315-17;
'The Old Architecture of the Province of Quebec', RAIC Journal, ii, January-February 1925, pp 25-30.
'The Building of McGill University', RAIC Journal, ii, March-April 1925, pp 45-63.
'Church of the Visitation, Sault-au-Recollet, Quebec', RAIC Journal, iv, December 1927, pp 435, 437-50.
'Old Churches and Church Carving in the Province of Quebec', RIBA Journal, xxxv, 25 February 1928, pp 247-62.
'The Old Cottages of Quebec', House Beautiful, lxiii, May 1928, pp 612-13, 649-50, 652-4, 656.
'Church of Saint Pierre, Island of Orleans, Quebec', RAIC Journal, vi, February 1929, pp 51-64.
'Church of Saint Jean, Island of Orleans, Quebec', RAIC Journal, vi, June 1929, pp 223-32.
'Chapel of Mgr. Olivier Briand in the Seminary of Quebec', RAIC Journal, December 1929, pp 433-38.
'The Panelled Room in the Presbytery of the Basilica, Quebec', RAIC Journal, vii, February 1930, pp 48-50.
'No. 92 St. Peter Street: A Merchant's House of the XVIII Century', RAIC Journal, vii, May 1930, pp 166-72; July 1930, pp 264-71.
'The Huron Mission Church and Treasure of Notre Dame de la Jeanne Lorette, Quebec', RAIC Journal, vii, September 1930, pp 337-45, November 1930, pp 415-21.
'The Old Architecture of French Canada', Queen's Quarterly, xxxviii, Autumn 1931, pp 589-608.
'The Architecture of the Hopital General, Quebec', RAIC Journal, viii, February 1931, pp 61-9; April 1931, pp 160-66; July 1931, pp 271-81; August 1931, pp 290-93.
'The Church of Ste. Jeanne Francoise de Chantal on the Ile Perrot, Quebec' in, RAIC Journal, ix, May 1932, pp 124-31; June 1932, pp 147-52.
'The Education of the Architect', RAIC Journal, ix, November 1932, pp 248-50.
'The Old Presbytery of Batiscan', RAIC Journal, x, January 1933, pp 13-20.
'The House of Simon McTavish, No. 27 St. Jean Baptiste Street, Montreal', RAIC Journal, x, November 1933, pp 188-92.
'The Old Church of St. Charles de Lachenaie', RAIC Journal, xi, November 1934, pp 164-68.
'The Church of St. Etienne de Beaumont, Quebec', RAIC Journal, xiii, October 1936, pp 183-90.
'The Church of St. John the Baptist at St. Jean Port Joli, Quebec', RAIC Journal, xvi, February 1939, pp 26-34.
'Byzantine Churches in Constantinople: their history and architecture' (by Alexander Van Millingen, assisted by Ramsay Traquair, W S George and A E Henderson), Macmillan & Co, London, 1912.
'The base of the obelisk of Theodosius' (by A J B Wace and R Traquair), Journal of Hellenic Studies, 29, 1909, pp 60-69.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|15, North Villas, Camden Square, London, England||Private||1900 *|| || |
|4, Forres Street, Edinburgh, Scotland||Business||c. 1909||1913|| |
|Montreal, Canada||Business||Before 1914||After 1920|| |
|Guysborough, Nova Scotia, Canada||Private||1952 *|| || |
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
Employees or Pupils
|The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|(Sir) Frank Charles Mears||1906||1908(?)||Assistant|| |
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|British Architectural Library, RIBA||2001||Directory of British Architects 1834-1914|| || || |
|http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/|| ||http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/|| || || |
|Murray, Irena||1987||Ramsay Traquair and his successors: A Guide to the Archive|| ||Montreal|| |
|Murray, Irena||2006||A Scout of the Past: Ramsay Traquair and the legacy of the Natianal Art Survey of Scotland in Quebec|| ||Reider, Peter E & McNabb, Heather (eds): A kingdom of the mind: how the Scots helped make Canada|| |
|Post Office Directories|| || || || || |
|Savage, Peter||1980||Lorimer and the Edinburgh Craft Designers|| ||Edinburgh: Paul Harris Publishing, 1980 (also paperback ed, London & Edinburgh: Steve Savage, 2005)|| |
|The Edinburgh Academy Register||1914|| || || || |
|Wagg, Susan||1982||Percy Erskine Nobbs: archtect, artist, craftsman|| ||Kingston|| |
|Walker, Frank Arneil||1986||South Clyde Estuary: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Inverclyde and Renfrew|| || ||p86|
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Bulletin of the Soc for Study of Arch in Canada||September 1996||v21, no3||Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada|| |
|Journal of the Royal Architectural Inst of Canada||1952||v29|| ||p344 - obituary|
|Montreal Gazette||29 August 1952|| || ||page 24|
|Scotsman||28 August 1952|| || ||Obituary|
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|David Gill, Swansea University||Information courtesy of David Gill, who is compiling book on British School in Athens|| ||Sent May 2008.|
|RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum||RIBA Nomination Papers|| ||A v14 p90 (microfiche 68/C6); F v24 no1745 (the papers give conflicting dates for his training, neither of which appear to be entirely accurate)|