Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Charles Malcolm Keith
Born: 19 December 1858
Died: 19 December 1940
Bio Notes: John Charles Malcolm Keith was born at Huntley Hall, Nairn on 19 December 1858, the son of the Rev Charles McGhee Keith, an episcopal clergyman, and his wife Elizabeth Madeline Christie. He was educated at Lincoln Grammar School and Clare Mount, Wallasey, but returned to Scotland to be articled to Alexander Ross in Inverness on 1 March 1877. He remained with Ross as assistant before moving in 1883 to London where he was an assistant successively with Professor T Roger Smith and N R Gough before commencing independent practice at Portishead, Somerset. During this period he made several study tours in Britain.

In 1887 Keith emigrated to California, settling first in San Francisco and the following year in San Diego, but in 1889 he moved to Seattle in order to qualify as a 'local' competitor of the new Anglican Cathedral at Victoria. He moved to Victoria in 1891 to form a partnership with the Seattle architect Cecil Evers as J C M Keith & Evers and their design 'Fides' was submitted in December 1891. The local submissions were sent unopened to London, where Edmund Ferrey made a selection of ten for the assessor, Sir Arthur Blomfield. These were exhibited at Church House, Westminster, where Blomfield selected Keith's design, Andrew Robb Scott from Burnet Son & Campbell's coming second. The Keith & Evers design had points in common with Butterfield's final scheme for St Ninian's Cathedral, Perth, suggesting that Keith may have spent at least some of his London years in Butterfield's office.

The cathedral did not proceed at that time and the partnership with Evers was dissolved in 1893. The competition success nevertheless brought Keith an extensive clientele both public and private. In 1913 William Douglas Caröe of London was consulted regarding the position of the cathedral: he recommended a new and larger hilltop site for which Keith prepared fresh plans. The First World War intervened and it was not until 25 May 1926 that work began on the nave and baptistery, consecrated 28 September 1928. On 7 June of that year Keith was elected FRIBA. He had a large church practice of which most were Anglican.

Keith continued to practise very successfully until his death in the Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria on 19 December 1940. Throughout his time in Victoria he was prominent in musical and particularly choral circles. He was survived by his wife Louisa Esther Shrapnel Barter, whom he had married in 1908. It was not until 1951-54 that the cathedral was finally completed.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 5Portishead, Somerset, EnglandBusiness18851887 
Item 2 of 5California, United States of AmericaBusiness18871889 
Item 3 of 5Seattle, Washington, United States of AmericaBusiness18891891 
Item 4 of 5914, Burdett Avenue, Victoria, CanadaBusiness1928 *  
Item 5 of 5601, Camphill Building, Victoria, CanadaPrivate1928 *  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 5Alexander Ross1 March 1877c. 1882ApprenticeRemained as assistant
Item 2 of 5Alexander Rossc. 18821883Assistant 
Item 3 of 5(Professor) Thomas Roger Smith1883Before 1885Assistant 
Item 4 of 5N R GoughAfter 18831885Assistant 
Item 5 of 5J C M Keith & Evers18911893Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 1RIBA Council7 June 1928for Fellowship

Buildings and Designs

This 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 41889Anglican CathedralVictoria British ColumbiaCanadaWon competition to secure job
Item 2 of 41914City Police CourtVictoria British ColumbiaCanada 
Item 3 of 41914First Presbyterian ChurchVictoria British ColumbiaCanada 
Item 4 of 41924Memorial HallVictoria British ColumbiaCanada 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 4British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 2 of 4Clarke, Basil F L1958Anglican cathedrals outside the British Isles  pp 72-3
Item 3 of 4Gray, A Stuart1985Edwardian Architecture: A Biographical Dictionary  p 229
Item 4 of 4Luxton, Donald (ed.)2003Building the West: the early architects of British Columbia Vancouver: Talon Books 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1The Daily Colonist20 December 1940 VancouverObituary

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F no2577 (box 8)