The Toronto Architectural Eighteen Club

The Toronto Architectural Eighteen Club was active from 1899 to 1912 with their first meeting being held at Webb’s restaurant May 29th, 1899. Principle leads of the Club were architects Eden Smith and Edmund Burke. The Club was founded in part due to a shared dissatisfaction with some of the policies of the OAA, and desire to improve the standards of architectural practice in Toronto by expanding interest and exposure to architectural works being produced in the United States. The formal organization of the Club came about after the affiliation of the Club with the Architectural League of America. The Eighteen Club joined the Architectural League of America as its only Canadian member in June of 1899 after the OAA declined the opportunity. Eden Smith met with the Toronto Chapter of the OAA on March 20th, 1900, representing the Eighteen Club, and appealed to the Toronto Chapter for financial and logistical support in obtaining hosting rights for an exhibition from the Architectural League of America of contemporary works of American architecture. The Eighteen Club sought to add to this exhibition drawings and photographs of completed works by Canadian and more specifically Ontario architects, so as to highlight synergies and distinctions between the two traditions. After much discussion the Chapter agreed to give all the support it could so that the undertaking would be a success. What emerged from this were a series exhibitions, the catalogues of which are now considered one of the best records of architecture in Canada and the US of this period.

The Architectural Eighteen Club distinguished itself from the Toronto Chapter of the OAA on numerous topics, including how architects should be educated, how architectural competitions should be conducted to increase fairness and improve the quality of the resulting submissions, and on the topic of mandatory licensing of architects. The Club also fed an ongoing debate as to whether architecture was an art or a profession, advocating for architecture to be considered an art and therefore operating outside of regulatory legislation. This debate, amongst others, raged on until the Club reconciled itself with the OAA in 1912.

History Gallery