Basic Biographical Details

Name: Ramsay Traquair
Designation: Architect
Born: 29 March 1874(?)
Died: 26 August 1952
Bio Notes: Ramsay Traquair was born in Edinburgh on 29 March 1874, the son of Dr Ramsay Heatley Traquair, Keeper of Natural History at the Museum of Science and Art in Edinburgh, and the Dublin-born painter and decorative artist Phoebe Anna Moss, better known as Phoebe Traquair. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy from 1884 to 1891, and at Edinburgh and Bonn Universities 1891-92, but did not stay to take a degree at either. He was articled to Stewart Henbest Capper in the latter year and studied at the Edinburgh School of Applied Art under Capper and Professor Frank Worthington Simon, winning the National Art Survey Scholarship in 1896. In the following year he joined the office of John More Dick Peddie and George Washington Browne, providing spare-time assistance to Robert Lorimer who was a friend of his mother, but seems not to have had a particularly close relationship with him. Traquair remained with Peddie & Washington Browne until 1899 when he decided to widen his experience in London as assistant to Samuel Bridgman Russell. He passed the qualifying exam in 1899 and was admitted ARIBA on 5 March 1900, his proposers being John Slater, Paul Waterhouse and Alexander Graham.

Thereafter Traquair was employed by the Turkish government to make a study of the lesser Byzantine churches in the Constantinople area with Professor A van Millingen, the results of which were published. He returned to Edinburgh in 1904 to become a lecturer at the School of Applied Art, commencing independent practice in 1905. His practice was however limited by long absences at the British School of Archaeology in Athens in 1905 and again in 1906; an in 1908 he obtained the studentship of the Byzantine Research Fund which again entailed a lengthy period away from the office. He was also responsible for writing up the annual reports of the school for the years 1905-06, 1906-07 and 1908-09 which must also have been fairly time-consuming.

Although few in number, Traquair's buildings were of great distinction, closer in spirit to Lorimer's than Peddie's or Browne's in their use of carefully crafted rubble masonry. Particularly original were his Church of Christ Scientist, the oblong tower of which was inspired by that of the lost medieval church of St Giles in Elgin, and Skirling House with its economical but very stylish use of weatherboarding.

In 1909 because of his increasing commitment to his private practice Percy Erskine Nobbs resigned the Macdonald chair of architecture at McGill University in Montreal to become part-time Professor of Design at a reduced salary. Once again as in the case of both Capper and Nobbs, Principal Peterson consulted Professor Baldwin Brown of the University of Edinburgh as to who should succeed him. Initially the fact that Traquair had not taken a degree at either Edinburgh or Bonn was seen as a difficulty, but his academic record was such that Brown's recommendation was accepted and Traquair duly left Edinburgh for Montreal in 1913.

Traquair did not practise in Montreal as that had been the main cause of friction between Nobbs and Peterson, Nobbs and Hyde thereafter undertaking much of the University's business. But he became deeply involved in the study of early Canadian, and particularly French Canadian, architecture on which he published extensively. He was elevated to FRIBA in late 1920 or early 1921, his proposers being Lorimer, James Bow Dunn and Alexander Lorne Campbell.

Traquair retired in 1939 and died at Guysborough, Nova Scotia, on 26 August 1952.


'Laconia I: The mediaeval fortresses', Annual of the British School at Athens, 12, 1905-6, pp 258-76.
'Laconia II: Excavations at Sparta, 1906, 12 - The Roman stoa and the later fortifications', Annual of the British School at Athens, 12, 1905-6, pp 415-30.
'Mediaeval fortresses of the north-western Peloponnesus', Annual of the British School at Athens, 13, 1906-7, pp 268-84.
'Laconia III: Mediaeval churches - The churches of western Mani', Annual of the British School at Athens, 15, 1908-9, pp 177-213.
'The Education of the Architect', in Const., xii, October 1919, 315-17;
'The Old Architecture of the Province of Quebec', RAIC Journal, ii, January-February 1925, pp 25-30.
'The Building of McGill University', RAIC Journal, ii, March-April 1925, pp 45-63.
'Church of the Visitation, Sault-au-Recollet, Quebec', RAIC Journal, iv, December 1927, pp 435, 437-50.
'Old Churches and Church Carving in the Province of Quebec', RIBA Journal, xxxv, 25 February 1928, pp 247-62.
'The Old Cottages of Quebec', House Beautiful, lxiii, May 1928, pp 612-13, 649-50, 652-4, 656.
'Church of Saint Pierre, Island of Orleans, Quebec', RAIC Journal, vi, February 1929, pp 51-64.
'Church of Saint Jean, Island of Orleans, Quebec', RAIC Journal, vi, June 1929, pp 223-32.
'Chapel of Mgr. Olivier Briand in the Seminary of Quebec', RAIC Journal, December 1929, pp 433-38.
'The Panelled Room in the Presbytery of the Basilica, Quebec', RAIC Journal, vii, February 1930, pp 48-50.
'No. 92 St. Peter Street: A Merchant's House of the XVIII Century', RAIC Journal, vii, May 1930, pp 166-72; July 1930, pp 264-71.
'The Huron Mission Church and Treasure of Notre Dame de la Jeanne Lorette, Quebec', RAIC Journal, vii, September 1930, pp 337-45, November 1930, pp 415-21.
'The Old Architecture of French Canada', Queen's Quarterly, xxxviii, Autumn 1931, pp 589-608.
'The Architecture of the Hopital General, Quebec', RAIC Journal, viii, February 1931, pp 61-9; April 1931, pp 160-66; July 1931, pp 271-81; August 1931, pp 290-93.
'The Church of Ste. Jeanne Francoise de Chantal on the Ile Perrot, Quebec' in, RAIC Journal, ix, May 1932, pp 124-31; June 1932, pp 147-52.
'The Education of the Architect', RAIC Journal, ix, November 1932, pp 248-50.
'The Old Presbytery of Batiscan', RAIC Journal, x, January 1933, pp 13-20.
'The House of Simon McTavish, No. 27 St. Jean Baptiste Street, Montreal', RAIC Journal, x, November 1933, pp 188-92.
'The Old Church of St. Charles de Lachenaie', RAIC Journal, xi, November 1934, pp 164-68.
'The Church of St. Etienne de Beaumont, Quebec', RAIC Journal, xiii, October 1936, pp 183-90.
'The Church of St. John the Baptist at St. Jean Port Joli, Quebec', RAIC Journal, xvi, February 1939, pp 26-34.

'Byzantine Churches in Constantinople: their history and architecture' (by Alexander Van Millingen, assisted by Ramsay Traquair, W S George and A E Henderson), Macmillan & Co, London, 1912.
'The base of the obelisk of Theodosius' (by A J B Wace and R Traquair), Journal of Hellenic Studies, 29, 1909, pp 60-69.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 415, North Villas, Camden Square, London, EnglandPrivate1900 *  
Item 2 of 44, Forres Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 19091913 
Item 3 of 4Montreal, CanadaBusinessBefore 1914After 1920 
Item 4 of 4Guysborough, Nova Scotia, CanadaPrivate1952 *  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

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 4Stewart Henbest Capper1892(?)1897Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4Peddie & Washington Browne18971899Assistant 
Item 3 of 4(Sir) Robert Stodart Lorimerc. 1897c. 1899AssistantPart-time assistant whilst with Peddie & Washington Browne
Item 4 of 4Samuel Bridgman Russell1899Before 1904Assistant 

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 1(Sir) Frank Charles Mears19061908(?)Assistant 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6Alexander Lorne CampbellLate 1920 or early 1921for Fellowship
Item 2 of 6James Bow DunnLate 1920 or early 1921for Fellowship
Item 3 of 6Alexander Graham5 March 1900for Associateship
Item 4 of 6(Sir) Robert Stodart LorimerLate 1920 or early 1921for Fellowship
Item 5 of 6John Slater5 March 1900for Associateship
Item 6 of 6Paul Waterhouse5 March 1900for Associateship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 5J Kenneth NesbittMid 1923for Associateship
Item 2 of 5Arthur PrideauxMid 1923for Associateship
Item 3 of 5James Bell RussellMid 1931For Associateship
Item 4 of 5James Forbes Smithc. February 1911for Licentiateship
Item 5 of 5John TurnbullEarly 1931for 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 111905BalavoulinGlen Fincastle PerthshireScotlandRemodelled from Milton Lodge
Item 2 of 111905The BushColinton EdinburghScotlandAlterations
Item 3 of 111908Huntly CottageColinton EdinburghScotland 
Item 4 of 111908Skirling HouseSkirling PeeblesshireScotlandAppointed for work of reconstruction
Item 5 of 111909Miners Cottages at BannockburnBannockburn StirlingshireScotlandWon competition
Item 6 of 111910Edinburgh Academy Mackenzie Boarding House  EdinburghScotland 
Item 7 of 111910First Church of Christ ScientistInverleith EdinburghScotland 
Item 8 of 111911HuntlyColinton EdinburghScotlandAlterations to coal house
Item 9 of 111912Ardgowan HouseInverkip RenfrewshireScotlandIron stair railing
Item 10 of 111912Bridge of Weir UP ChurchBridge of Weir RenfrewshireScotlandRemodelling/renovation.
Item 11 of 111912National MonumentCalton Hill EdinburghScotlandScheme for completion - with Frank Mears


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 9British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 2 of 9   
Item 3 of 9Murray, Irena1987Ramsay Traquair and his successors: A Guide to the Archive Montreal 
Item 4 of 9Murray, Irena2006A Scout of the Past: Ramsay Traquair and the legacy of the Natianal Art Survey of Scotland in Quebec Reider, Peter E & McNabb, Heather (eds): A kingdom of the mind: how the Scots helped make Canada 
Item 5 of 9Post Office Directories     
Item 6 of 9Savage, Peter1980Lorimer and the Edinburgh Craft Designers Edinburgh: Paul Harris Publishing, 1980 (also paperback ed, London & Edinburgh: Steve Savage, 2005) 
Item 7 of 9The Edinburgh Academy Register1914    
Item 8 of 9Wagg, Susan1982Percy Erskine Nobbs: archtect, artist, craftsman Kingston 
Item 9 of 9Walker, Frank Arneil1986South Clyde Estuary: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Inverclyde and Renfrew  p86

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 4Bulletin of the Soc for Study of Arch in CanadaSeptember 1996v21, no3Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada 
Item 2 of 4Journal of the Royal Architectural Inst of Canada1952v29 p344 - obituary
Item 3 of 4Montreal Gazette29 August 1952  page 24
Item 4 of 4Scotsman28 August 1952  Obituary

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2David Gill, Swansea UniversityInformation courtesy of David Gill, who is compiling book on British School in Athens Sent May 2008.
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A v14 p90 (microfiche 68/C6); F v24 no1745 (the papers give conflicting dates for his training, neither of which appear to be entirely accurate)