John M. Lyle

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John M. Lyle
File:John M. Lyle photo.jpg
Born 1872
Connor, County Antrim, Ireland
Died 1945
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater Yale University
Occupation Architect
Practice Atelier Lyle 1906-1943
Buildings Royal Alexandra Theatre
Projects Worked on many Dominion Bank branches in Toronto 1911-1937
Design Royal Alexandra Theatre, Bank of Nova Scotia head office

John MacIntosh Lyle (1872–1945) was an Irish born Canadian architect, designer, urban planner, and teacher active in the late 19th century and into the first half of the 20th century. He was a leading Canadian architect in the Beaux Arts style and was involved in the City Beautiful movement in several Canadian cities. In the 1920s, he worked to develop his vision of a uniquely Canadian style of architecture.


Lyle was born in Connor, County Antrim, Ireland on 13 November 1872.[1] He came to Canada as a young child in 1878 and grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, where his father, Rev. Dr. Samuel Lyle, was minister of Central Presbyterian Church. Lyle attended the Hamilton School of Art. He trained as an architect at Yale University, enrolling in the École des Beaux-Arts, in Paris, France, in 1894. Following his graduation, he found work in 1896 with the New York architectural partnership of Howard & Cauldwell. Lyle subsequently became an associate with the New York firm of Carrère and Hastings—with which he was involved in the design of the New York Public Library (Fifth Avenue at 42nd St., 1897)—and became a member of the Society of Beaux-arts Architects.

Lyle returned to Canada in 1905 to begin work on the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto. In 1906, he established his own company, Atelier Lyle, in Toronto.

During the 1920s, Lyle strove to develop a uniquely Canadian architectural style, incorporating traditional designs from the English and French colonial periods and stone, metal, plaster, fresco, glass and mosaic floral and faunal motifs inspired by the Canadian post-impressionist painters known as the Group of Seven.[1]

In 1926, the Ontario Association of Architects awarded Lyle its Gold Medal of Honour for his design of the Thornton-Smith Building (1922) on Yonge Street in Toronto. Two years later, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. From 1941 to 1944, he served as president of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Most of Lyle's projects were in Toronto and other parts of Ontario (and mostly for banks, especially Dominion Bank), but completed projects in New Brunswick, Alberta, Nova Scotia. He submitted proposals for competition for two buildings in United States (1 in Providence, RI and another Chicago), but he did not win either one.[2]

John M. Lyle died in Toronto on 20 December 1945.

Lyle's best-known contribution is Royal Alexandra Theatre, completed in 1907 in the Beaux-Arts style. It was renovated in 1963 and remains one of the city's valued arts venues.

Lyle designed the granite and Indiana limestone Memorial Arch at the Royal Military College of Canada, whose two large bronze tablets bear the names of the ex-cadets who gave their lives for their country in World War I. The stone was laid by Governor-General of Canada, His Excellency Viscount Byng, of Vimy, CGB KCMG MVO 25 June 1923; Nominal rolls of Cadets and Staff, pamphlets concerning the Arch, the RMCC Review of May 1923, Canadian coins and stamps and the Roll of Honour of the College are in a sealed copper box.[3]


Project Location Dates Notes Source Image
Royal Alexandra Theatre 284 King Street West, Toronto 1907 Beaux Arts W Royal Alex Theatre, Toronto.jpg
Central Presbyterian Church Hamilton, Ontario 1908 Beaux-Arts 100px
Cobalt railway station Cobalt, Ontario 1910
John B. Maclean House - 7 Austin Terrace Toronto 1911 Georgian Revival. Built for John Bayne Maclean. Facade retained (remaining structure demolished was altered after 1950) during conversion as townhouses in 2011.
Maclean Publishing Building Toronto 1913. Demolished
John Lyle Studio Toronto 1920 Beaux-Arts. All but facade demolished to make way for One Bedford condos 2006[4]
The Thornton-Smith Building 340 Yonge Street, Toronto 1922 Beaux-Arts. Lyle won the Ontario Association of Architects' Gold Medal of Honour for this building in 1926.
Commemorative Arch Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, Ontario 1923 Beaux-Arts CMR - Arche commémorative.JPG
Bank of Nova Scotia 123 Sparks Street, Ottawa 1923 Beaux-Arts [1]
Union Station Front Street West, Toronto 1915–1927 In the Beaux-Arts style, Canada's most monumental railway station. G.A. Ross and R.H. Macdonald, Hugh Jones (CPR), and John M. Lyle. W Union Station on Front Street.jpg
Gage Park Memorial Fountain Gage Park, Hamilton, Ontario 1927 Beaux-Arts GageParkHamiltonA.JPG
Bank of Nova Scotia 125 8 Avenue SW, Calgary 1929 Beaux-Arts [2]
Bank of Nova Scotia head office and Halifax main branch 1709 Hollis Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia 1929–1931 Beaux-Arts (A rare example of Renaissance inspired structure) [3] [4] 100px
Runnymede Library Toronto 1930 A branch of the Toronto Public Library. Incorporates elements of English and French colonial architecture in Canada and uses Canadian imagery for ornamentation. 100px
Cowan House 174 Teddington Park Avenue, Lawrence Park, Toronto 1931
Whitney Hall University College, Toronto 1930-31 Georgian Revival university residence. 100px
Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge Hamilton, Ontario 1932 Beaux-Arts monumental entrance bridge to the city of Hamilton characteristic of the City Beautiful movement. 100px
Bank of Nova Scotia head office Toronto 1951 Designed in 1928 and built after Lyle's death to a modified design.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hunt, Geoffrey. "Lyle, John MacIntosh". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2011-02-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Memorial Arch
  • Martin Eli Weil Award essay: Beaux-Arts on the Banks of Lake Ontario: John M. Lyle and the Royal Military College of Canada's Memorial Arch. Dec. 1994 (19:4), p. 88-99.

External links