Viewpoint (July 01, 2003)

Last month I took part in the annual conference of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada (SSAC) in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Founded in 1974, the SSAC brings together people from a variety of disciplines–architects, public servants, historians and other scholars–interested in Canadian architecture from both a historical and cultural perspective, and includes the study of buildings, urban design, and landscapes. The society constitutes an important vehicle for the exploration and dissemination of architectural research and scholarship, and its Canadian focus serves to help develop a better understanding of and appreciation for this country’s architectural culture. Readers interested in learning more about the SSAC are invited to visit the society’s Web site at

St. John’s was a fitting setting for the conference; the city’s remote location served as a reminder of Canada’s vast geographic reach, and its unique character emphasized the continuing importance of regional variation as an important component of the larger Canadian identity. Papers were presented in both official languages on a wide variety of topics, from the commercialization of the “heritage” status of Vancouver’s Gastown to a critical assessment of the role of the bungalow in defining the domestic landscape of postwar Quebec to the design of the Anglican Church of St. John the Baptist in our host city by noted British ecclesiologist Sir George Gilbert Scott.

On reflection, the conference served as a microcosm of my experience at Canadian Architect over the past six years, bringing together people with a passion for architecture from across the country and representing the remarkably diverse issues that inform the work of our profession. In this context the experience marks a fitting conclusion to my tenure as Editorial Director of Canadian Architect, the St. John’s location all the more so: one of the most rewarding aspects of this work has been the opportunity to visit cities throughout the country and to experience first-hand the rich regional variations that characterize Canada. I hope that Canadian Architect has been successful in communicating this unique and enduring dimension of Canadian architecture.

There are too many people to thank for supporting the magazine during my time as Editor, but I wish to extend some words of appreciation to the many contributors–architects, writers, photographers and others–whose work forms the backbone of the publication; to the regional correspondents and contributing editors who help cover this vast country; and to our editorial advisors whose generous and candid comments keep the magazine focused and relevant. Thanks to former art director Hannele Lappalainen for the magazine’s current look, and graphic designer Sue Williamson, who diligently maintains the graphic standards our readers expect; to Publisher Tom Arkell and Associate Publisher Greg Paliouras, who ensure the magazine stays in the black, and therefore in publication; and especially to Associate Editor Nyla Matuk, who held down the fort this past year while I shuttled between editing the magazine and teaching at Ryerson University. And of course many thanks to our readers, without whom the magazine would not exist.

Finally, a word of welcome to Canadian Architect’s new Editor, Ian Chodikoff. Ian holds graduate degrees in architecture and urban design from the University of British Columbia and Harvard University, respectively, and is a member of the Ontario Association of Architects. Ian has participated in a number of architectural publications both as a contributor and an editor, and brings a combination of professional and academic experience to the magazine. Readers can look forward to Ian’s fresh point of view and distinctive voice in Canadian Architect.