hoosing an architect

The choice was a delicate one. Paris, and the ambassador at the time, Arsène Henry, were not in agreement.

Eugène Elie

“The Department” wished to trust a French architect, living in Canada or coming from Paris. Arsène Henry, for his part, preferred to have a Canadian architect who graduated from L’École des Beaux Arts of Paris. According to him, not only would that diminish the costs, but that would ensure a better quality of work : a Canadian architect would have a better knowledge of the materials available on site, the climactic conditions, and local habits. “How would a Parisian architect know that well-kept Canadian houses have two cloakrooms – one for the women, and another for the men?”.
Choosing a Canadian architect who graduated from Beaux Arts in Paris would also have the advantage of promoting the French education system, and would be a good way to incite Canadians to do their studies in France.

Finally a compromise was agreed upon : the chief architect would be French. He would join himself to one or several Canadian collaborators for the on site realisation. The French architect, however, would have to be of an impressive reputation in order to establish authority amongst the local architects, and in order for the Canadian architect to be flattered to have his name joined to one of a famous colleague. All blows to the Canadians pride was then avoided.

Element of the engraving in the Ambassador’s office, representing the three architects

The first suggestion was made by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs : Mr. Carlu, French architect living in the United States. But Arsène Henry warned the Department : “The Canadians will not appreciate that we go to the United States to find something we could very well find in Canada.”

Finally, Eugène Beaudouin, Grand Prix of Rome, was appointed on the 21st of March 1935. He chose, as his collaborators, Marcel Parizeau and Antoine Monette, two architects from Montreal who were also graduates of l’École des Beaux Arts in Paris, and whom he had already worked with.

Beaudouin made several voyages to Canada. He was overcome by the beauty of the land. In one of his correspondences with Raymond Brugère, he wrote : “I am bringing with me such a sense overall pleasantness that I almost don’t believe it; your welcoming, the hearty attention to the Canadian surroundings, the quality of land, the suppleness, and the charm of the program.”


Choosing a piece land
The architectural project

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