Mid-Century Architecture in Victoria

From the University of Victoria Archives and Special Collections


"The spirit of Maclure really had to await the modernism of the 1950s when a new group of enthusiastic practitioners such as [...] John Di Castri, John Wade, and Alan Hodgson were to bring indigenous design back to the Northwest." – Martin Segger, Exploring Victoria's Architecture, 23


This exhibit documents the rise of mid-century modern architecture in Victoria through three holdings in the University of Victoria Archives and Special Collections: the Wade Williams fonds (AR497), the John Di Castri fonds (SC429), and the Hubert Norbury fonds (SC479). The Wade and Di Castri fonds both comprise primarily architectural drawings, while the Norbury fonds consists of photographs of newly constructed buildings.

I have structured the exhibit in three parts. In the first I provide an overview of Victoria's architectural history, which I divide into two periods: pre- and post-World War II. In the second part I provide an overview of the lives and work of Wade and his partners, Di Castri, and Norbury. In the third and final part I have selected four buildings by Wade and Di Castri each, and have presented a selection of documents pertaining to them. These include original drawings, photographs by Norbury, as well as other accompanying material such as news clippings.

The University of Victoria has already held a series of exhibits on architectural modernism in Victoria. The four-part part series – entitled Victoria Modern – looks at different aspects of modernism in the 1950s and 1960s. This online exhibit builds on that series.

I would like to thank Martin Segger and Terry Williams for their help and input during the development of this exhibit.

For more information on any of the collections in this exhibit, please visit the UVic Special Collections and University Archives, located in the lower level of the Mearns Centre-McPherson Library, or e-mail .

The exhibit was created by Tom Harding in January and February 2018. This archives assistant position was funded through the University of Victoria Libraries and the Young Canada Works (YCW) in Heritage Institutions internship program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, delivered by the Canadian Council of Archives.


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