Title and statement of responsibility area
Townley, Matheson and Partners fonds
General material designation
- Textual record
Other title information
Title statements of responsibility
- Source of title proper: Title based on name of creator
Level of description
Edition statement of responsibility
Class of material specific details area
Statement of scale (cartographic)
Statement of projection (cartographic)
Statement of coordinates (cartographic)
Statement of scale (architectural)
Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
1897-[ca. 1990]; predominant 1919-1974 (Creation)
- Townley, Matheson and Partners
Physical description area
- ca. 5000 architectural drawings
- 653 photographs
- 0.44 m of textual material
Publisher's series area
Title proper of publisher's series
Parallel titles of publisher's series
Other title information of publisher's series
Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series
Numbering within publisher's series
Note on publisher's series
Archival description area
Name of creator
Townley, Matheson and Partners (1919-1974) was a major Vancouver architectural firm throughout most of the 20th century. It produced designs for over 1100 discrete projects including numerous landmark buildings in the Vancouver, most notably Vancouver City Hall.
The partnership was formed in 1919 by Fred L. Townley (1887-1966) and Robert T. Matheson (1887-1935). Townley was the son of former Vancouver Mayor T.O. Townley. Townley and Matheson were both raised in Vancouver, and received their architectural training at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating together in 1911.
The majority of the work the partnership did in its initial years was private residences and small scale commercial projects. It was responsible for the design of many prominent Shaughnessy homes. It also produced designs for numerous stores and offices, including approximately 100 automobile service stations in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island. The partnership achieved prominence in 1935 after it was awarded the contract to design Vancouver's new City Hall. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s the partnership designed fewer residences and increasing numbers of commercial buildings, including numerous grocery stores and movie theatres. From the 1950s onward hospital design formed the most sizable component of the partnership's business; projects included Vancouver General Hospital, Royal Columbian Hospital, Royal Jubilee Hospital, Mission Memorial Hospital, and others in British Columbia, as well as Lethbridge Municipal Hospital in Alberta.
The partnership existed under several names throughout its existence:
Townley and Matheson (1919-1964)
Townley, Matheson & Associates (1965)
Townley & Matheson, Kelly, Humphrey & Ritchie (1966)
Townley, Matheson & Partners (1967-1974)
Allen C. Kelly (1908-2001) and Leonard A. Humphrey were former associates who became partners in 1964; it is likely that Ross B. Ritchie became a partner at about the same time. In 1969 the partnership merged with the practice of Alfredo J. Luz, but retained the name Townley, Matheson & Partners.
The records were created and maintained at the offices of Townley, Matheson and Partners until the dissolution of the partnership in 1974. After the dissolution of the partnership they were maintained in the custody of Allen C. Kelly until his death in 2001. The records were part of Kelly's estate, and were donated to the archives by his daughter Morna Horner in 2002. Records created before 1919 are from Townley's and Matheson's respective work before forming the partnership, and were likely transfered into the partnership's custody at or shortly after its creation.
Scope and content
The fonds consists of architectural drawings, photographs and textual materials related to the partnership's activities surrounding the design and implementation of architectural projects. The majority of the records are graphical in nature. Architectural drawing files specific to a particular project typically contain elevation and perspective drawings related to the design of an initial concept and proposal for the project, incorporations of revisions into the initial concept based on the clients input and practical considerations, detailed plans intended to guide construction work, and annotations and alterations to those plans made during construction. Some of the projects (approximately 1 in 10) did not receive approval to proceede, and contain material relating only to the initial proposal. Project photographs include pre-construction photos taken of the construction site used to assist in the initial planning, progress photographs used in the supervision of construction, as documentation of the techniques and practices used during construction and for reference purposes, and post construction photographs used to document the finished appearance of a project. Photographs were also incorporated into promotional material, as collections of albums shown to prospective clients, and in promotional publications.
The majority of the records relate to projects in the greater Vancouver area. Approximately 100 projects were undertaken on Vancouver Island, primarially in the Victoria region, but also in Duncan, Ladysmith, and Nanaimo.There are also records related to hospital projects in the Fraser Valley, several residences in the Okanagan, as well as two hospital projects in Lethbridge Alta.
Projects initiated between 1919 and 1966 were numbered sequentially as job no. 1 through 1047. Jobs located in Victoria (B.C.) worked on between 1929 and ca. 1932 were numbered sequentially as job no. V-1 through V-14. Two jobs done in Penticton (B.C.) in 1936 are numbered sequentially as job nos. M-1 and M-2. Begining in 1967, projects were assigned a 5 digit job number; the first 2 digits of the job number were the last 2 digits of the calendar year, followed by a hyphen and a 3 digit number (e.g. 67-014). Where known, job nos. have been incorporated into titles at the file and item levels.
The fonds consists of 3 series:
Architectural drawings. -- 1897-1977. ca. 5000 drawings (representing approx. 700 projects).
Miscellaneous records. -- 1919-[ca.1990]. 44 cm of textual and and other material.
Project photographs. -- [189-?]-. 653 photographs.
Immediate source of acquisition
Language of material
Script of material
Location of originals
Availability of other formats
Restrictions on access
Access restrictions apply to some of the records, please consult the archivist
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
Partial funding for this project was provided by the Canadian Council of Archives through a 2003-2004 Control of Holdings grant.