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Edward Collis Hopkins

Hull Block

During Edmonton's first building boom in the early 1910s, many architects were given opportunities to showcase their work, as the city's skyline became filled with new buildings. Among them was Edward Collis Hopkins, one of Edmonton's lead architects, and designer of some of the finest buildings in Canada. In a profile in the Edmonton Journal he was called a "natural born builder."

Hopkins began his life as a prominent architect in Eastern Canada. Born in Montreal in 1857, he was the son of architect John W. Hopkins and Margaret Tilly. After receiving a high school education, he began work at his father's architectural firm, Hopkins and Wiley. He soon became a full partner in the firm, and with his father he helped design several Montreal buildings, such as the Montreal Ice Palace, the Protestant Insane Asylum, the T.C. Wilson Building, and the Windsor Hotel. While working at the firm, Hopkins married Emma Jane Blow in 1881; they later had a son and daughter. In the early 1890s, Hopkins entered a Parisian world competition in architecture, and won a gold medal. By 1896, his firm dissolved, and he left to work in Boston and then Quebec City.

Great West Saddlery Company

Edward Collis Hopkins began his work in Edmonton with an appointment as Provincial Architect for Alberta in 1905. When his design proposals for the Legislative Buildings of the new province were rejected, he resigned as provincial architect. But this was only the beginning of his work in Edmonton. In 1906, he helped to found the Alberta Association of Architects, an organization which defined the profession and prevented non-architects from advertising themselves as architects. Four years later, he became president of the Association. After his short stint as provincial architect, Hopkins set up a private practice at 132 Jasper Avenue (now 10331 Jasper Avenue). He continued to live in Edmonton until his death in 1941, at the age of 84.

Throughout his career, he designed prominent buildings across Canada, including Regina's City Hall, the Vancouver Opera House, and Calgary Normal School. In Edmonton, he designed the Prince of Wales Armoury (1915, now home to the City of Edmonton Archives), the Great West Saddlery Company Building (1911), the Marshall-Wells Building (1910), the Horne and Pitfield Building (1911), the Balmoral Block (1913), and the Pantages Theatre (1913, and which later became the popular Strand Theatre, demolished in 1970).

The Hull Block, which began construction in 1914, was one among many of the commercial buildings he designed for Edmonton's downtown, and was representative of his architectural style. The bath brick and white cast cement exterior was ornamented with a pressed metal cornice, a decorated parapet with keystone carrying the inscription "Hull block," and a store front cornice with ornamental keystones above the windows, reminiscent of the Edwardian Classicism style that was popular in Edmonton at the time. Unfortunately, few of the buildings Hopkins designed still stand, but the Hull Block is an exception; located in Chinatown, the Hull Block is now designated as a Municipal Historic Resource and a Provincial Historic Resource.

References

Cinema Treasures. "Strand Theatre." Retrieved July 14, 2008

Herzog, Lawrence. "A Natural Born Builder." Real Estate Weekly, 22(37), September 16, 2004. Retrieved July 14, 2008

Herzog, Lawrence. "New Life for the Block Hull Built." Real Estate Weekly, 24(36), September 7, 2006. Retrieved July 14, 2008

Herzog, Lawrence. "The Jasper Block." Real Estate Weekly, 21(45), November 13, 2003. Retrieved July 14, 2008

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