Mid-Century Architecture in Victoria From the University of Victoria Special Collections and University Archives

Hubert Norbury

Hubert Norbury's application for commission

Hubert Norbury was born in 1897 in Liverpool, England to Frank Herbert Norbury (1871-1965) and Flores Ethel Fall (1872-1953). Frank was born in Liverpool and after secondary school attended the Liverpool City School of Art, the Lambeth Model School, and the School of Art, Architecture, and Applied Art at the University of Liverpool. From 1893 to 1900 Norbury taught at the University of Liverpool, and from 1900 to 1914 had a private carving practice. On 10 June 1896 Norbury married Fall, who was also from Liverpool, and was a pianist and composer. Together they had two children, Hubert and Esmé. In 1902 Frank volunteered with the 1st Cheshire Royal Engineers and by 1908 was a major with the Cheshire Infantry Brigade. During the War he served as a major and was awarded the Italian Croce di Guerra and Order of the British Empire.

In August 1914, Hubert, aged 17, enlisted in the British Army. He subsequently saw three years of service in France. In 1919 Hubert immigrated to Canada and settled as a homesteader at Pibroch, Alberta. The following year his parents joined him in Canada. During the 1920s Hubert worked as a newspaper reporter in Edmonton, and in the 1930s for the Alberta Department of Public Works. It was during this time that he took up photography and co-founded the Edmonton Photographic Society. In May 1943 Norbury was accepted into the Royal Canadian Navy as a Petty Officer Photographer. He spent the war in Ottawa as a photography instructor at Naval Service Headquarters. Following the War, Norbury remained in the Navy and was posted to Esquimalt, where he continued to teach photography.

Hubert and Marjorie Norbury

Norbury retired from the Navy in 1958 and subsequently began work as a freelance photographer. Farmer Construction, a Victoria company, regularly hired Norbury to take pictures their work. Norbury’s photography for Farmer documents the rise of mid-century modern architecture in Victoria in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Reminiscent of the work of Julius Shulman – whose photographs capture the same style but in California – Norbury’s images show Victoria’s mid-century buildings in their infancy, untainted by modifications or additions. As he was working for a construction company, Norbury photographed buildings throughout the construction process – from bare ground to completion.

On 22 July 1949 Norbury married Marjorie Race. He died in 1969 at age 72.

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