Update: Porcupine General Hospital (1938) and the Tisdale Municipal Building (1940)


Architects, South Porcupine, Update / Tuesday, November 1st, 2016
The Tisdale Municipal Building as it appeared in the local papers. Source: Porcupine Advance, September 26, 1940, p. 5.
The Tisdale Municipal Building as it appeared in the local papers. Source: Porcupine Advance, September 26, 1940, p. 5.

Almost two weeks ago, I wrote a short story about the Tisdale Municipal Building in South Porcupine. While I was able to get an architect and speak a little about the context, that was about as far as it went. If you’ve followed along on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, you’ll see that I’ve just returned from a trip to Toronto, where I spent time at the Archives of Ontario. While I was there to do some research for my thesis, I took the opportunity to peruse some of the pages of the Porcupine Advance.

In the previous story, I mentioned that the Porcupine General Hospital was designed by architect D.R. Franklin. In a sneak peek, the new hospital was described in the Porcupine Advance as “a building that stands four-square with the world; ‘by the side of the road to be a friend of man.'”1”New Porcupine Hospital Opening This Week-end,” Porcupine Advance, February 10, 1938, p. 2. The Advance’s reporter was struck first by how quiet the hospital was, crediting the “marboleum,” which ensured that the “heaviest shoes make no noise whatever.”2Ibid. Franklin’s choice of colours, which included “creamy buff with putty colour, grey biscuit, light cameo blue, French gray, light apple green, medium gold, light gold, ivory, peach tint, and – in the X-room medium violet,” was considered to be “most perfect.”3Ibid. The nurse’s residence was not yet open to inspection, but it too promised to be spectacular. The new hospital also featured all the necessary equipment.4Ibid.

The new Porcupine General Hospital was opened on February 12, 1938. Source: Porcupine Advance, February 14, 1938, p. 1.
The new Porcupine General Hospital was opened on February 12, 1938. Franklin was not only the hospital’s architect, but was also on its Board of Governors. Source: Porcupine Advance, February 14, 1938, p. 1.

The new hospital opened officially at 3pm on Saturday, February 12, 1938. Ontario’s inspector of hospitals, Dr. Malcolm Edward Stalker,5In a previous story, I incorrectly identified Stalker as Ottawa’s inspector of hospitals based on reporting in the Ottawa Journal. Stalker was, in reality, Ontario’s inspector of both public and private hospitals. See Journal of the Canadian Medical Association 94 (April 9, 1966): 821. attended the ceremony. Following a short speech opening the new facility, Archdeacon Woodall read a prayer of dedication.6”New Hospital a Credit to South Porcupine Area,” Porcupine Advance, February 14, 1938, p. 1.

The new municipal building opened as the Second World War raged. Source: Porcupine Advance, September 16, 1940, Page 1.
The new municipal building opened as the Second World War raged. Source: Porcupine Advance, September 16, 1940, Page 1.

“Modern Georgian in style the exterior of the building is far from ornate.”7”Simple Dignity and Well Used Space Keynotes of New Tisdale Building,” Porcupine Advance, September 12, 1940, p. 1. As noted in the previous story, once he arrived in the South Porcupine area in the mid-1930s, architect D.R. Franklin remained a permanent fixture in the community. His Tisdale Municipal Building was a testament to his style: simple, clean, and affordable. Reporting in the Porcupine Advance about the new building was careful to stress the more utilitarian aspects of the building. Like the hospital two years previous, the municipal building was “not ornate.”8Ibid. It was not only the design that was spartan:

Keynote of both the building and its furnishings is utility. Everything has been designed to give the maximum amount of efficiency with a minimum of waste space. The lobby in the general office, for example, is not large and ornate. It is so constructed that only the people whom the clerks are able to accommodate have waiting space.9Ibid.

The efficiency was extended to the division of departments: the Main street entrance brought one into the general office, the Commercial [Shamrock] entrance lead one to the works department and police, and the Bloor entrance lead one to the medical department.10Ibid. The main floor of the building was decorated in apricot-peach for the walls and brown asphalt tile on the floors. Colour scheme on the second floor was powder blue and light green. The spruce trees that flank the front entrance were planted soon after the building’s completion.11Ibid.

The stone above the entrance of the Municipal Building. Source: Porcupine Advance, September 26, 1940, p. 3.
The stone above the entrance of the Municipal Building. Source: Porcupine Advance, September 26, 1940, p. 3.

Reporting on a public open house that was held over the weekend of September 14 and 15, the Advance once again made sure to stress how uncomplicated and fussy the building’s design was while being a “structure worthy of Tisdale’s traditions and its hoped-for future”.12”New Township Building Open for Inspection by the Public Last Week-end,” Porcupine Advance, September 16, 1940, p. 6. Save for the flag and portrait of King George VI for the courtroom, the $91,000 building was complete and well-received.13Ibid. Franklin’s fee for the design amounted to $4,200.14Ibid.

Once the municipality had moved into the building, the Advance ran a feature over several pages. Source: Porcupine Advance, September 26, 1940, p. 3.
Once the municipality had moved into the building, the Advance ran a feature over several pages. Source: Porcupine Advance, September 26, 1940, p. 3.

For his own part, Franklin, as it would turn out, was even busier in the Timmins area than he first appeared. An advertisement run in the September 26 Advance feature listed a number of other projects he designed in the area up to that point.

Franklin had been kept busy after his arrival in South Porcupine. Source: Porcupine Advance, September 26, 1940, p. 3.
Franklin had been kept busy after his arrival in South Porcupine. Source: Porcupine Advance, September 26, 1940, p. 3.

In the event that the list is difficult to read, his local commissions to late 1940 included:

  • Mrs. Todhunter’s Residence in Schumacher.
  • Hollinger Residences in Timmins.
  • St. Mary’s Nurses’ Residence in Timmins.
  • Porcupine General Hospital and Nurses’ Residence in South Porcupine.
  • Moseley & Ball Building in Timmins.
  • Pearl Lake Hotel in Schumacher.
  • Brewers’ Warehouse in Schumacher.
  • Canadian Bank of Commerce in Schumacher.
  • Birch Street School in Timmins.
  • Mr. P.M. Bardessono’s Residence in Timmins.
  • Mr. Charles M. Shields’ Residence in South Porcupine.
  • Mr. H.W. Miller’s Residence in South Porcupine.
  • Mr. Henry Miller’s Residence in South Porcupine.
  • Municipal Building in South Porcupine.
  • Public School in South Porcupine.
  • Timmins Bottling Works in Timmins.
  • Consumers’ Cooperative Central Store in Timmins.
  • Consumers’ Cooperative Townsite Store in Timmins.
  • Consumers’ Cooperative Department Store in Timmins.
  • Bardessono Building in Timmins.
  • Workers’ Cooperative Industrial Baking Plant in Timmins.

If you would like to explore the block with the municipal building, i’ve embedded it here.

Notes   [ + ]

1. ”New Porcupine Hospital Opening This Week-end,” Porcupine Advance, February 10, 1938, p. 2.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. In a previous story, I incorrectly identified Stalker as Ottawa’s inspector of hospitals based on reporting in the Ottawa Journal. Stalker was, in reality, Ontario’s inspector of both public and private hospitals. See Journal of the Canadian Medical Association 94 (April 9, 1966): 821.
6. ”New Hospital a Credit to South Porcupine Area,” Porcupine Advance, February 14, 1938, p. 1.
7. ”Simple Dignity and Well Used Space Keynotes of New Tisdale Building,” Porcupine Advance, September 12, 1940, p. 1.
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
12. ”New Township Building Open for Inspection by the Public Last Week-end,” Porcupine Advance, September 16, 1940, p. 6.
13. Ibid.
14. Ibid.

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