Series 4 - Research and Writing

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Research and Writing

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  • [197-?], 1972-1992 (Creation)
    Dendy, William

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ca. 2.7 m. of textual records

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Name of creator


Biographical history

William Bruce Dendy, Canadian architectural historian, was born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1948 and died May 29, 1993 in Toronto, Ontario. Dendy graduated from the University of Toronto in 1971, received a B.A. in Architectural History from Cambridge University in 1973, and in 1979 received two Masters degrees in architectural history, one from the University of Cambridge, and one from Columbia University in New York. He worked as an architectural historian for the Toronto Historical Board from 1973 until 1976, taught Canadian architectural history at the University of Toronto, at the University of Waterloo, at Carleton University in Ottawa, at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute in Toronto, and at the Toronto Urban Studies Centre. Dendy also worked on a consultancy basis as architectural historian to many Toronto-based architectural firms, developers, and government agencies, and also led architectural walking tours of Toronto.
Dendy's two published works, Lost Toronto (1978) and Toronto Observed: Its Architecture, Patrons, and History (1986), were both published by the Oxford University Press and both won Toronto Book Awards. In 1993 Dendy was awarded an honorary membership in the Ontario Association of Architects, and in the same year he was given an Allied Arts Award for his lectures and books on historical architecture.
(Sources: Freedman, Adele. "A Life's Work: The William Dendy Collection", University of Waterloo Alumni Magazine (spring 1995): 11-15; "Historian Won 2 Toronto Awards", The Globe and Mail, Monday, 31 May 1993; Hume, Christopher. "Architectural Historian's Death a Significant Loss", Toronto Star, Tuesday, 1 June 1993, sec. B., p. 6; "Will Bequest Establishes the William Dendy Collection", Insights (spring 1995): 1-2.)

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Scope and content

Series consists of research materials which relate to many different areas of Dendy's work in the field of architectural history. They include textual and graphic materials, as well as electronic information in the form of computer files stored on 3.5" floppy disks.

This includes the research materials acquired by Dendy during his studies at Cambridge University, England and probably at Columbia University in New York. These take the form of course handouts, ms. holograph notes, and photocopies of journal articles. A large number of the ms. holograph notes relate to the history of home building and residential architecture in Canada (this formed the subject of the thesis which Dendy wrote either for one of the Masters degree he received in Architectural History and/or for the PhD in Architectural History on which he was working).

Also included is material relating to topics studied by Dendy either at university or in his professional career. These research topics include: the architects Frank Darling, John Howard, and Oliver Hill; the architectural history of the city of Hamilton, Ont.; "The Smaller Houses of the American Suburbs", "The Houses of Indian Road", and "A Comparision of 504 Jarvis St. and 135 St. George St." (last three topics constitute research papers written by Dendy).

Other research materials contained in this file were gathered in the process of researching for Lost Toronto and for Toronto Observed. These research materials primarily take the form of planning information sheets, ms. lists of Toronto buildings/architects, tender information from the Toronto Globe (issues from the late 19th century), ms. holograph notes re Toronto building permit files, and some photographic materials. Some reviews of Lost Toronto can also be found in this series.

Other research materials relate to Dendy's extensive research on the residential area of Forest Hill and take the form of ms. holograph notes on Forest Hill building permit files. Photocopies of journal articles, ms. holograph notes and other materials, which appear to have been gathered and/or prepared for a proposed publication on the history of Canadian architecture, are also contained in this series.

Ms. research notes used by Dendy in preparation for Toronto walking tours led by him are also contained in this series, in addition to research materials used by him for projects he worked on in his capacity as consultant architectural historian to various architectural firms and government bodies.

Other files include information relating to projects Dendy worked on as architectural historian to the Property Restoration Branch of the Ontario Heritage Foundation from 1987-1989, and to work which he carried out for Tom Schwartz, President of Intraurban Projects, as well as to a study conducted by Dendy on CNR Railway Stations for the Architectural History Branch, Canadian Historic Sites Directorate of the Canadian Parks Service in 1991.

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