Architecture, Town Planning and Community: Selected Writings and Public Talks by Cecil Burgess, 1909-1946

Edited by Donald G. Wetherell. Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press, 2005.

Mumbai-born and Edinburgh-educated architect Cecil Burgess immigrated to Canada in 1903 at the age of 33, and over the next 68 years, made significant contributions to Canadian architectural discourse. This collection of his essays and lectures provides insight into the social and intellectual dimensions of architecture and town planning during the first half of the 20th century. Burgess’s arrival in Canada began in Montreal, where, while practicing with the firm of Nobbs and Hyde, he began his lifelong public advocacy of the Arts and Crafts movement through dedicated scholarship and countless public lectures, including a stint teaching at McGill University until 1911. He was appointed professor of architecture at the University of Alberta in Edmonton in 1913, and became superintendent of campus building design in addition to his teaching responsibilities. It is no coincidence that Architecture, Town Planning and Community arrives at this critical moment in Alberta’s history, as its current explosive economic growth recalls the experience of the province’s formative boom years. Burgess played a vital role in shaping the province’s visual and cultural landscape, and in defining the social and physical environment in those early years. Consequently, architectural history, the impact of the Arts and Crafts and Modernist movements, the meaning of domestic architecture, and the connection of architecture and town planning to everyday life figure prominently in this collection. Burgess officially retired from the University of Alberta in 1940, and, already in his seventies, began a small private consulting practice, designing small hospitals and advising on town planning throughout communities in Alberta. He was awarded a Doctor of Laws from the University of Alberta in 1958, and died in his adopted home of Edmonton in 1971.