Comment 42091

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2010 at 10:51:05

Hello BobInnes,

I personally happen to know a British engineer and a British Architect (both white and now retired in their seventies), who had been grossly discriminated against in Ontario - for having foreign (UK) education!! There are many more white anglo-saxons, both male and female from England and other parts of Europe, who faced similar discrimination locally, over the last many decades.

Having researched this subject to death, I also know that over a century ago, Ontario (after many false starts), literally modeled their architectural education and professional practice of architecture, directly on the standards and principles of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and on École des Beaux-Arts.

RIBA was also the base model on which architectural education was founded in India and most of the British colonies over a century ago.

Discrimination in Ontario against white foreign architects,(there were no coloured ones to discriminate back then), started as early as the 1920's - primarily as a tool to protect the turf of unscrupulous architects who had arrived in Ontario - earlier than the American architects, who were being invited by local businessmen to build in Ontario and Quebec - because they were offering better design and value than was available locally.

All innovation in architecture (incl. highrise steel-frame buildings), was unfortunately happening back then, in cities like Chicago, Buffalo, and New York. -- It was not originating in Ontario, but was only imported here by visionary clients; or simply copied by local Architects - some of whom had even literally formed a boys club in Toronto to prevent 'foreign values' from corrupting their world -- (which really meant: we don't want any competition from outside - but your ideas were ok!)

It is historically documented that architectural education and architectural practice in Ontario during the late 1800's was a total mess and a national embarrassment:

" ...However, behind the public face of design, architectural life in Canada during the 1880s and 1890s was in turmoil. The Canadian public had lost confidence in its designers, students were forced to study abroad to secure a first-class education, professional rivalry was unscrupulous, architectural competitions a scandal...."- Kelly Crossman, Architecture in Transition From Art to Practice, 1885-1906

No doubt Ontario's architectural heritage is primarily British. -- Yet, British architects and engineers who came to Ontario after the initial wave of immigration, with far superior education than what the locals possessed back then - were discriminated against and often marginalized for their foreign education! It was just not white males who faced this.

In 1891 according to the British census there were "twelve ladies practicing architecture in London alone, besides others in large towns.

In 1939 five women were registered as architects in Canada: two educated in Canada, two in Europe and one who had qualified via apprenticeship.

In 1960 of the 2,400 architects registered in Canada, 30 were women, a total of 1.25%.

This may tell you a little bit more than you may want to know about the insidious nature of discrimination that exists to this day in Hamilton and across Ontario - A kind of discrimination that is in a class of its own, with no parallel to be found anywhere in the world.

When you make a statement such as: "While I could care less about skin colour, I'm not too keen to have foreign values brought to our councils" -- quite frankly it makes me laugh!

Our current mayor is a foreign-born immigrant, as was our previous mayor. Did both of them in your view - bring with them their 'foreign values' to the council?

Supposedly they too must be working silently in the nights to "dismantle heritage/ institutions in preparation for the great globalization ahead"!

Does Meredith's experience from last week of someone from Hamilton calling her a "foreigner", and telling her to go back to where she came from -- remind you anything here?

And you accuse others here of being in a rush?

I sincerely recommend that you watch this video, (which I posted only a day before, on another blog here). It is by someone who does not read too much into raw statistics - and instead helps clarify much about that darn "foreign values".

I hope I have helped clear some of the cobwebs from the "Canadian identity" that seems to be stuck in the attic for far too long!

Mahesh P. Butani

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