Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Delightful Ms. MacRae

As I have doubtless said too many times already, I am enjoying some winter downtime with my favourite books about the history of architecture. And with some books which are new to me so not, as of yet, my favourites. But they will be, in that way that 9-year olds can have ten best friends.

But this one is a true delight. Eccentric (I would LOVE to have known its author Marion MacRae). Ms. MacRae is opinionated, prickly, snooty, educated, cultured, observant, wise and enchanting....and knowledgeable enough about the influences that the centuries have brought to bear upon Ontario's architecture not to get all 'bird-bookish' about style names and elements.

That came later...did I say that this book was written in 1963? And tell you that the name is The Ancestral Roof? Indeed, quite right. The very title which brought this blog into being.

The delicious subtitle of the book reads "By Marion MacRae in constant consultation with, and sometimes in spite of Anthony Adamson, who wrote the first word and the last word and made the drawings."  Isn't that delightful? As are some of the chapter titles: 'Rule, Britannia', 'Potash and paterae', 'Ye distant spires, ye antique towers'. Ms. Macrae's credentials were impeccable as were, no doubt, were her manners. We lost her in 2008.

And Mr. Adamson is no slouch either. His drawings and the house plan evolution section at the end of the book are an invaluable resource. And his name pops up with regularity in the canon.

If  you have yet to enjoy this wonderful book, my favourite used bookseller Abebooks has 45 copies starting at $3.95 (plus shipping but we won't go into that.)

1 comment:

  1. The Ancestral Roof is my absolute favourite book (of all time) about our Canadian architectural heritage. It is my go to guide. Thanks for educating people about this wonderful (but out of print) guide. Thank goodness copies are often available through used booksellers.
    Your fellow heritage preservationist, Deborah R.