|Frederic William Cumberland (1820-1881)|
Library and Archives Canada/MIKAN 3214491
I've included this week an example of an armorial bookplate that I acquired a long time ago for very a small sum. The real joy of collecting these is twofold. First, they present great studies in Canadian heraldry, a field that thanks to the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada continues to enjoy a large following devoted to learning about and increasing our knowledge of this valuable subject. Second, they present great opportunities to learn about Canadian history through biography.
Born in London in 1820, Frederic Cumberland studied engineering, survey, and architecture before emigrating to Canada in 1847 after marrying into an influential Toronto family. He worked as a surveyor laying out the intersection of Yonge and Bloor Streets and was later the county engineer for York and Peel.
Returning to architecture, Cumberland designed a number of important Toronto landmarks including St. James Cathedral, the Normal and Model Schools of Toronto, York County Court House, Toronto Mechanics Institute (in 1883 this became the Toronto Public Library), the Magentical Observatory, the centre portion of Osgoode Hall, and also University College at the University of Toronto. In addition, he designed several prominent Toronto family homes, including Thomas Ridout, John Ross, and others. Cumberland's own spacious home, Pendarves, was designed and built c.1860.
|Period drawing of St. James Cathedral, Toronto|
This apparently unused bookplate was intended for a book in Cumberland's private library at Pendarves. Though I haven't investigated yet whether there is any information on the size, scope, or fate of this library I certainly have a number of buildings to revisit on my next trip into Toronto now that I know who designed them. This is perhaps the third joy of collecting bookplates. Having learned something new about Canada's history through biography, I can now go look at these places again and appreciate them in a new light armed with this new knowledge and insight.
Until next time....