Henry Langley, 1836 -1907 RCA


Canadian Architect and Builder, 1907, Vol. 20, No. 1, p. 14. Credit: McGill University, Blackader Lauterman Library

Henry Langley was born in Toronto on November 26, 1836. His parents, William Langley and Esther Anderson, emigrated from Ireland in 1832. Langley attended the Toronto Academy, where he learned the principles of drawing. At seventeen, he began a seven-year apprenticeship with William Hay, a Scottish-born architect who specialized in the Gothic style.

In 1862, Hay took on Thomas Gundry as a partner. When Hay returned to Scotland, Gundry recognized Henry Langley’s talents, and asked him to become his partner. Langley quickly became the primary designer with Gundry taking over the business side in valuations and estimates. Thomas Gundry died in 1869 and Langley worked briefly on his own assisted by Frank darling and his nephew Edmund Burke both of whom went on to have distinguished careers as Toronto architects.

In 1873, with many projects underway Langley entered into a new partnership with his brother Edward and Edmund Burke, while expanding the staff to meet the demands of the firm’s religious and secular commissions. Langley’s reputation grew and in 1880, in recognition of his work in the field of architecture, Henry Langley was accepted as one of the founding members of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Although regarded today as a conservative in architectural design, Henry Langley is remembered as one of the first generation of architects born and trained in Canada. Recognizing the need to promote architectural training, Langley helped found the Ontario Association of Architects and established the endowment of a chair for the study of architecture at the University of Toronto. In the later years, Edmund Burke left the partnership, however, Langley’s son Charles Edward joined the firm. Henry Langley died in 1907 and was buried in the Toronto Necropolis, for which he had designed the chapel.

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