Pioneer Architect of British Columbia
Thomas Hooper is one of British Columbia’s most celebrated architects. The buildings he designed have become some of our province’s most cherished historic landmarks.
Thomas Hooper was born in Devon, England on March 2, 1857. His parents immigrated to Canada in 1871, just four years after Confederation. Thomas moved from Ontario to Manitoba at the age of 21 and arrived in Vancouver in 1886. Amazingly, Thomas received no formal training in architecture. Instead, he chose to absorb everything he could through hands on experience and detailed study of how buildings were made.
Thomas Hooper designed hundreds of buildings in his remarkable career. Some of his more impressive structures include Victoria’s Metropolitan Methodist Church designed in 1890. This masterpiece is an architectural marvel with its castle-like turrets and indoor spiral staircase. It now serves as the Victoria Conservatory of Music. In 1893, Thomas drew up the plans for the Protestant Orphans’ Home, inspired by Harvard’s spectacular Sever Hall. This impressive building is now known as the Cridge Centre for the Family. In 1908, Hooper designed Vancouver’s Winch building, long considered to be one of the most historically significant buildings in the city, that is now part of Sinclair Centre. Hooper also created several neo-classical revival structures such as 1909’s Alexander Duncan McRae residence in Shaughnessy, now known as Hycroft, and the 1910 addition to the Vancouver Court House, ( today Vancouver Art Gallery), along with courthouses in Revelstoke and Vernon
Early in his career, Thomas Hooper had offices in both Vancouver and Victoria. He also had a number of highly talented business partners. He retired from his architectural practice in 1931. After leaving an impressive collection of architectural wonders, Thomas Hooper died in Vancouver on January 1, 1935, at the age of 77.
Biography by Raymond Reitsma