Fonds - Anthony Adamson and Marion MacRae fonds

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Anthony Adamson and Marion MacRae fonds

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  • 1946-1992, predominant 1958-1992 (Creation)

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Physical description

4.5 m of textual records, graphic material, and architectural drawings ca. 6,600 photographs : col. slides 792 photographs : negatives

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Biographical history

Marion Bell MacRae is a well-known architectural and design historian. Born in Apple Hill, Ont. in 1921, she entered the Ontario College of Art in 1947. She completed her post-graduate studies at the University of Illinois in the years 1951-54. From 1949 to 1969 she was an instructor at O.C.A. in Museum Research and subsequently lectured in Design History from 1969 to 1986, after which she retired. She also taught History of Canadian Architecture part-time at the University of Toronto from 1973 to 1978. She also acted as a Special Research Consultant to the Dundurn Castle restoration project which was completed in 1967.

Having first collaborated at Morrisburg, Ont. on the Upper Canada Village project, MacRae worked with Anthony Adamson on a survey of the historical houses of Ontario. The resulting work, written by MacRae and illustrated with a preface and a last word by Adamson, explored the history of the province through its architecture. The Ancestral Roof (1963) was well received and has had many printings. This team would collaborate on two more works on the history of Ontario architecture. In 1975 MacRae and Adamson published Hallowed Walls (Governor General’s award for non-fiction), an exploration of ecclesiastical architecture of Ontario. They also put together Cornerstones of Order (1983) which looked at pre-1900 public buildings (court houses and town halls) in Ontario. From 1963 to 1967 MacRae was enlisted by Adamson to work as a Special Research Consultant on a project to restore Dundurn Castle at Hamilton, Ont. During this time she became interested in the life of the man who built the castle, Sir Allan MacNab. MacNab of Dundurn, a biography, was published in 1971, which not only explored the life of MacNab but also his life’s work, Dundurn Castle.

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Biographical history

Born in Toronto in 1906, Anthony Adamson was an architect, an author, teacher, and administrator. He studied architecture at Cambridge University and London University. After completing his education, he was an architect and architectural planner and then a professor at the University of Toronto from1955 to 1965. He served as an elected municipal official for the Township of Toronto. He was awarded honorary degrees from Queen’s University (1975) and the University of Windsor (1985). The recipient of many honours including the Order of Canada (1974) and the Gabrielle Léger Medal (1981), he contributed greatly to the architectural heritage of Ontario and to the visual and performing arts. He lobbied for the restoration of Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, Ont. and then served as General Consultant to the project which was completed in 1967. He served for several years as Chairman of the Ontario Arts Council and was a member of the Board of the Ontario Heritage Foundation. Anthony Adamson died on 3 May 2002.

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Scope and content

Fonds consists of three accruals. The first accrual (38-1995 and 43-1995) consists of four series, corresponding to the four published works which are arranged in order of publication: 1. Ontario Houses--The Ancestral Roof; 2. Dundurn--MacNab of Dundurn; 3. Ontario Churches--Hallowed Walls; 4. Ontario Public Buildings--Cornerstones. Consists of manuscripts, correspondence and research files which comprise notes, plans, maps, sketches, pamphlets, articles, photographs and slides as collected or created by MacRae and Adamson and all relating to the writing and publishing of the four works. The second accrual (26-1996) consists of photographs by various photographers, including Philip Shackleton, Miro Klement and Page Toles for use in books by Adamson and MacRae. It has not yet been arranged or described; it measures 32 cm. This measurement is not included in the fonds measurement above.The third accrual (42-1997) consists of 792 negatives taken by Philip Shackleton, 1963-1983, to illustrate several books written by MacRae and Adamson. They are as follows: MacNab of Dundurn (1971), 17 negatives; The Ancestral Roof: A Domestic Architecture of Upper Canada (1963), 397 negatives; and Cornerstones of Order: Courthouses and Town Halls of Ontario, 1784-1914 (1983), 378 negatives.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The first accrual was donated to McMaster University in 1995, by Anthony Adamson and Marion MacRae who retain copyright ownership of all original material. The second accrual was acquired from Marion MacRae via Stephen Otto in April 1996.The third accrual was acquired from Philip Shackleton and Hugh MacMillan in October 1997. Copyright in the negatives rests with Mr. Shackleton.


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There are no access restrictions.

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Associated materials

Researchers may also wish to consult the Clarke, Irwin Co. fonds for further correspondence.

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Further accruals are not expected.

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