UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A 'commerce of taste' in pattern books of Anglican church architecture in Canada 1867 - 1914 Magrill, Barry Stephen


This thesis examines the construction of Anglican churches in Canada in the period between 1867 and 1914. During this period settlement and economic expansion occurred alongside new political arrangements and consciousness that involved religious observance and debate. The building of churches became an important site of architectural and cultural formation in part due to the circulation of pattern books and the development of print media. At its broadest level, this thesis assesses the influence of church building across the Confederation in the constitution of social economy and attitude, particularly around ideas of collective identity. Consequently the focus is the analysis of the effects of transatlantic and transcontinental exchanges of ideas of design taste on a representative selection of churches built over the protracted period of Confederation. To this end, the thesis examines the importation of pattern books of architecture, particularly those illustrating popular Neo-Gothic church designs from Britain and the United States. It demonstrates how print media not only influenced architects, builders and committees charged with ecclesiastical construction but also consolidated architectural practice and constrained the fashioning of an autonomous national architectural idiom. The thesis maintains a perspective of the very diversity of ethnic, cultural and political allegiance experienced across Canada that contested the apparent dominance of British imperial authority and colonial regulation. The case studies of Anglican churches re-present larger economic and socio-cultural trends subsequently contested by comparative cases of Roman Catholic, Non-Conformist and even Jewish structures that underscore the complex interchange of ideas and interests. They reveal the use of supposedly hegemonic taste in church design to register the presence of other denominations and religious groups in the formation of Canadian society. The thesis shows how debates about the design of churches in the evolving nation of Canada was integral to the ongoing definition of wider taste in architecture, to the development of local and regional economy, and to communal identity. These processes reflected the new spatial geographies and imagined maps of culture enabled by the commercial production, circulation and consumption of print media such as church pattern books.

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