Mark your calendars for September 26-27, 2014, when Carleton’s History Department, with the assistance of the Dean of FASS, Heritage Ottawa, and the Pinhey’s Point Foundation, will co-sponsor a landmark colloquium on Ottawa’s domestic Gothic architecture, including tours, lectures, an exhibit, and a keynote address by Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin from University of Kent School of Architecture in the UK.

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The Origins of Domestic Gothic Architecture in Ottawa

The competition for design of the Parliament Buildings in the late 1850s drew to Ottawa several English architects, who introduced popular Gothic domestic forms that helped transform the housing stock of a rough lumber town to befit a dawning capital.

Their stone villas shared fashionable Tudor ornament and a revolutionary ‘pinwheel’ floorplan, in which four wings revolve outward from a central stairhall, a plan recently traced to A.W.N. Pugin, the father of the English Gothic revival. Like the Parliament Buildings and Ottawa’s Gothic churches, these homes identified Canada and its capital as progressive partners in the British Empire. Though Earnscliffe, the best known, was later home to Sir John A. Macdonald, the houses were built for leading Ottawa merchants, industrialists and professionals, including three members of the locally prominent Pinhey connection, who had built a Gothic-influenced church on their rural estate in the 1820s.

An authority on Pugin, Tim Brittain-Catlin of the University of Kent School of Architecture, will introduce us to Pugin’s Gothic on the Friday evening. His lecture, co-sponsored by Heritage Ottawa, will be at St Alban’s Anglican Church (1867-68), once a controversial bastion of high church ritualism. Saturday morning will feature lectures at Carleton by David Jeanes of Heritage Ottawa on the adoption of the Gothic pinwheel form in Ottawa, and Ian Badgley of the NCC on their archaeological legacy.

Optional visits on the Friday include Earnscliffe and two very different Gothic revival churches: the romantic ruins of Hamnett Pinhey’s Old St Mary’s (1822-25) and its successor New St Mary’s (1909), adjuncts to the Pinhey estate on the Ottawa River. New St Mary’s was designed by Ottawa architect J.W.H. Watts, first curator of the National Gallery. Saturday afternoon features bus tours to view the surviving villas, beginning with lunch at Cabotto’s restaurant (a rural example near Stittsville).

An accompanying exhibit will also offer background on ecclesiastical and civic gothic. Several Carleton students have contributed to the exhibit, sponsored by the Pinhey’s Point Foundation and the City of Ottawa.

Places will be limited, particularly for the tours, so indicate your interest early to

Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin, Kent School of Architecture

Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin, Kent School of Architecture

Photograph: Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin from University of Kent School of Architecture in the UK.