Created By: SFU
The Century House, also known as the Canada Permanent Building, was designed by Scottish architect John Smith Davidson Taylor in 1911-12 for the Canada Permanent Mortgage Corporation. After completing a five-year apprenticeship in the office of the City Architect of Aberdeen, Scotland, Taylor immigrated to Canada in 1901. Prior to the Great Depression, Taylor was well-known for designing apartment buildings, commercial buildings, and residences, but when he opened an office in Vancouver and designed this heritage building, it became one of his most significant designs. Today, Taylor’s work is valued as a prime example of Beaux-Arts style architecture. Taylor wanted to ensure that the building conveyed a sense of conservatism, permanence, and security, so he made the facade of the building in temple form with architectural elements such as Tuscan order detailing and Neoclassical-influenced features. The central triangular pediment sculpture on top of the building incorporates the corporate crest of the Canada Permanent Mortgage Corporation. This carved stone crest is in the form of beavers flanking a lighthouse.
The Canada Permanent Mortgage Corporation, which commissioned the building, played a key role in housing the nation by offering mortgages. Mortgages were given to newly arriving fruit growers and miners, cattle ranchers, farmers, and fishermen, giving migrants the opportunity to own property. In anticipation of continued economic growth, Taylor designed the Canada Permanent Building with the intention that it could be expanded in the future with two additional stories.
Bibliography: Kalman, Harold and Robin Ward. “Century House.” Exploring Vancouver: The Architectural Guide. Ed. Iva Cheung. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2012. Google Scholar. Web. 19 May 2017.
“Canada Permanent Building.” Canada’s Historic Places. Retrieved from http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=6841&pid=13794&h=Canada,Permanent,Building
This point of interest is part of the tour: Scotland Walks Vancouver