Samuel Maclure was born in New Westminster on April 11, 1860, the son of John and Martha Maclure, who had arrived in British Columbia the previous year as part of the Columbia Detachment of the Royal Engineers. After elementary and high school education in the Fraser Valley and Victoria, Sam Maclure worked as a telegraph operator at a number of locations in British Columbia. In 1884 he went to Philadelphia to attend the Spring Garden Institute for a year. Originally intending to study to art, he quickly changed his emphasis to architecture. After returning to British Columbia in 1885, he advertised himself as an art and telegraphy teacher in Victoria. In 1889 he married Margaret Catherine Simpson and moved to New Westminster, where he opened an architectural practice in partnership with Charles Henry Clow, which lasted until 1892, when he removed to Victoria.
While Victoria was Maclure's residence and the site of the majority of his commissions, he opened an office in Vancouver with Cecil Croker Fox about 1900. This partnership was dissolved by Fox's departure for war service in 1914 and his death in action in 1916. The Vancouver office was not reopened until 1920, when Maclure assigned the task to Ross A. Lort, who had earlier worked in Maclure's Victoria office.
The years before the First World War were the busiest and most lucrative for Maclure. During the 1920s commissions for the type of large, high-quality houses of the pre-war years were more infrequent, and Maclure took on design jobs for more modest houses as well as alterations and additions. As evidenced by drawings in this series, Maclure worked almost until the time of his death on August 8, 1929.
Scope of the Collection
The collection consists of plans for new buildings and renovations to existing structures principally in Greater Victoria during the period 1910 to 1929. Maclure's work constitutes over ninety per cent of this unit, and the overwhelming majority of his plans are for houses. Further accretions comprise a sample of the work of other architects, most notably Harry Daborn Day, who immigrated from England and designed houses in the Victoria area in the 1920s and '30s.
Most of Maclure's drawings for the period 1910 and before are presumed to have been lost in the Five Sisters Block fire (Government at Fort Street, Victoria) in that year. Most of the pre-1910 drawings in this series are blueprints. These plans include representative examples of all of the house styles employed by Maclure during his career except for the "stick-style" and Queen Anne types he designed among his earliest commissions.
The files are irregular assemblages of sketches, proposals, working drawings, contract drawings, consultant plans (e.g. heating, wiring, etc.). In the absence of project and plan numbering schemes or other indications of records management practices it is often difficult to assign a drawing or set of drawings to a particular phase of the design process.
This series of architectural plans was formed around the drawings of Samuel Maclure which were acquired by the History in Art Department from the Vancouver architectural practice Lort & Lort in 1968. The unit was transferred to the University of Victoria Libraries in 1980.
Image: detail of drawing by Samuel Maclure of residence on Discovery Island, 1922