© All rights reserved. © and courtesy of Ian Fraser © All rights reserved. © and courtesy of Ian Fraser 

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Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Fraser
Designation: Architect
Born: 24 October 1867
Died: 14 June 1922
Bio Notes: William Fraser (sometimes misspelt Frazer) was born in Lochgilphead, Argyllshire, Scotland, on 24 October 1867, the second son of the children (6 boys and 2 girls) of Rev. William Fraser, minister of the Free Church of Scotland in Lochgilphead, and Violet Ferguson Fraser.

Having received his early education at the Glasgow Free School, William Fraser attended the University of Glasgow and articled to John McLeod in Glasgow from 1883 to 1888. In 1889, he moved to London as assistant to William Warlow Gwyther and attended the University of London. In 1891, he passed the qualifying exam and was elected Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects (ARIBA) on 8 June of that year. His proposers were Messrs. Gwyther, William Thomas Hollands and Frederic Richard Farrow.

William Fraser then joined a firm of Glasgow architects and in 1896 commenced independent practice in the same city on winning the competition for the National Burns Memorial at Mauchline that was built to mark the centenary of Robert Burns’ death. The Memorial’s foundation stone was laid in 1896 and the Memorial was completed in 1897. An article in The Scotsman published in 2004 said the Memorial is “regarded worldwide as a shrine central to the poet’s life and times”.

William Fraser married Maud Marion Timpson in 1898 in Dunoon, where they initially settled. They had three children. Among other work, he designed the Dunoon Pavilion (1905), which was a local landmark that served as the town’s multi-function hall. According to a 1928 publication, “the Pavilion has been a great service in providing accommodation for Public Meetings and Musical Entertainments so much desired by the Visiting Public. Vocalists and musicians of world fame have been attracted to its platform, among them (Jan) Kubelik, the renowned (Czeck) violinist.” Located on Pier Road at the head of Dunoon Pier in downtown Dunoon, the Pavilion was damaged by fire and demolished in the late 1950s.

In 1907, William Fraser and his family emigrated to Toronto, Canada, where he had been invited to become an associate at the architecture firm George M. Miller. He designed office buildings (assisting George Miller with the design of the enormous Beaux-Arts work for the Toronto General Trusts Building, Bay Street at King Street West, Toronto (1909-11; demol. 1966), schools (the School of Household Sciences at the University of Toronto) and homes (the Deaconess Home).

William Fraser was one of several architects selected by the Canadian government to supervise the rebuilding of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, after it was devastated on December 6, 1917, when the French munitions ship 'Mont-Blanc' exploded in Halifax harbour. He spent two years in Halifax but returned in 1921 having fallen ill with cancer.

William Fraser died on June, 14, 1922, at the age of 54. In its obituary headlined “William Fraser Called By Death – Was Prominent Architect in Canada and Scotland”, the Toronto Globe newspaper reported that “in Scotland he is remembered as the designer of the Burns Memorial at Mauchline” and that in Toronto the “School of Household Sciences and the Deaconess Home stand as memorials to the skill and workmanship” of “the well-known Toronto architect”. William Fraser was survived by his wife who died aged 93 in 1965.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 3Burgh Buildings, Dunoon, ScotlandBusiness(?)January 1899 as Building News 6 Jan 1899
Item 2 of 3248, West George Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1899After 1904 
Item 3 of 3Toronto, CanadaBusiness1907 or 1908  

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 2John McLeod18831888Apprentice 
Item 2 of 2William Warlow Gwyther18891891Assistant 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Frederic Richard Farrow8 June 1891for Associateship
Item 2 of 3William Warlow Gwyther8 June 1891for Associateship
Item 3 of 3William Thomas Hollands8 June 1891for Associateship

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 71896National Burns Memorial, Cottage Homes, Museum and TowerMauchline AyrshireScotlandWon competition to secure commission for memorial tower
Item 2 of 71898Dunoon Sheriff Court and County BuildingsDunoon ArgyllScotlandAsked to make plans, but didn't get job; McKissack and Son won competition
Item 3 of 71899Court House and Police StationDunoon ArgyllScotland 
Item 4 of 71899Dunoon Grammar SchoolDunoon ArgyllScotland 
Item 5 of 71901CarisbrookeHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandAdditions and conservatory
Item 6 of 71901Darvel Board SchoolDarvel AyrshireScotland2nd premium in competition
Item 7 of 71905Pavilion at DunoonDunoon ArgyllScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 2 of 3http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/ http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/   
Item 3 of 3Post Office Directories     

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Ian Fraser, Calgary, CanadaInformation to website courtesy of Ian Fraser, grandson of William Fraser Biography written by Ian Fraser.
Item 2 of 3Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Additional research by Iain Paterson
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A v11 p98 (microfiche; 49/C7; no job list)


© All rights reserved. © and courtesy of Ian Fraser 

© All rights reserved. © and courtesy of Ian Fraser

© All rights reserved. © and courtesy of Ian Fraser 

© All rights reserved. © and courtesy of Ian Fraser