Maxwell Dewar

“(Dewar) was a man of goodwill and of a super-abundant energy who had risen high in his profession by personal ability and by unsparing application to whatever he put his hand to.” Cecil Burgess, on the death of Maxwell Cameron Dewar, 1955.

 

Dewer, Cawston, & Stevenson (1949-1950)

Dewer, Stevenson, & Stanley (1951-1955)

In the late 1920s local architects MacDonald & Magoon hired the young Scottish immigrant, Maxwell Cameron Dewer, to apprentice with their firm. Upon the completion of his tutelage Dewer worked independently before being hired as an assistant architect for the City of Edmonton. Dewer took on the City Architect position from 1943 to 1949 and in conjunction served as the President of the Alberta Association of Architects between 1945-1947. His Art Deco design of the Churchill Wire Centre at the southwest corner of Churchill Square established the architectural direction for the remainder of the buildings around the civic centre. Dewar resigned from the City citing poor health, but also with some regret as the position was one in which he claimed to find great interest. He could see that Edmonton was on the verge of a new direction with the installation of Noël Dant, the first full-time City Planner. When he left the City to run the local branch for the Calgary firm of Stevenson, Cawston, & Stevenson, several architects and assistants from the civic office followed him. Perhaps as a result of this exodus, the City terminated the City Architect position (although they reinstated it within a short time).

Dewer’s experience working for the City likely contributed to awarding Dewer, Cawston, & Stevenson the contract for designing Edmonton’s new city hall in 1954. The nine storey double wedge-shaped design was one of Canada’s first modernist designs for a civic government. Some onlookers never appreciated the new design and it was surrounded with cynicism and controversy from the beginning. Dewer himself anticipated a strong reaction to the new building, but he was confident the public would come to admire the cutting-edge design. Unfortunately Dewer didn’t live to see his prediction become reality, he died at the age of 45 in 1955, two years before the city hall was completed.

Details

Full Name

Maxwell Cameron Dewar

Neighbourhoods

Downtown

Architectural Styles

Art Deco influences

Character Defining Elements

Carving, Flag pole, Flat roof, Glass block, Metal structure, Pilaster, Polished stone, Rectangular footprint, Smooth stone, Two storeys

Gallery

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