Catherine Chard Wisnicki fonds

Catherine Chard Wisnicki fonds

Part of


  • Catherine Chard Wisnicki (creator)
  • Catherine Chard Wisnicki (archive creator)


Catherine Chard Wisnicki fonds

Dates of creation

[ca. 1947], 1995, 1997


  • archives

Level of archival description


Extent and Medium

  • 5 photographs
  • 1 videocassette
  • 1 textual record

Scope and Content

The Catherine Chard Wisnicki fonds contains five original photographs dating from about 1947, and some post-exhibition documentation consisting of one VHS video cassette recording of an interview with Chard Wisnicki (1995), and one textual document (1997), a handwritten thank-you note from the architect to Robert Desaulniers, director of the Department of Archives at the Canadian Centre for Architecture.

The large b/w photographs by Vancouver photographer Tony Archer show exterior and interior views of the house built for wealthy lumber company executive William S. Brooks. Chard Wisnicki assisted Charles Pratt with the design of the Brooks House while working in the office of Sharp & Thompson, Berwick, Pratt in 1946-1947, and her husband Paul Wisnicki, together with W. Frank Urry were the engineers for the project. One of the largest residences designed by Pratt (b. Boston 1911, d. Vancouver 1996), the functional-modernist Brooks House was built in three inter-connected sections on a cliff slope that descended 300 feet to West Bay in West Vancouver. Constructed with concrete foundations, a cedar wood frame and cedar board cladding and a flat roof, the house was demolished in 1992.

Reference Number



Materials are arranged in two series: AP074.S1 Photographs; and AP074.S2 Documentation.

Biographical notes


Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1919 - 2014

Catherine Chard graduated from McGill University in Montréal, Québec with a B.A. in history in 1939. That year she began studies at McGill's school of architecture, and graduated with a B. Arch. in 1943 as the first woman to do so. Between 1941-1946, Chard worked in numerous architectural offices - for the National Research Council in Ottawa, the Aluminum Company of Canada (Alcan) in Montréal, with architect A.J.C. Paine, with architects Lawson & Betts, and for the Canadian Wooden Aircraft Company in Toronto, Ontario. In 1944 she joined the Ontario Association of Architects.

Chard moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1946, registered with the Architects Institute of British Columbia, and became a senior designer for the important firm of Sharp, Thompson, Berwick and Pratt from 1946-1947. She continued to work intermittently for the office after forming a brief partnership in 1947 with architect John Porter (1915-1993), and marrying engineer Paul Wisnicki. In 1955, Chard Wisnicki returned to Montréal to work for Archibald & Illsley for 10 years, and then she returned to Vancouver to accept a position in the School of Architecture at the University of British Columbia. Chard Wisnicki retired from teaching in 1985.

Chard Wisnicki's early work in Montreal included her participation in the planning of Alcan's industrial town Arvida, and while in Toronto she became an expert in prefabrication construction techniques while working for Canadian Wooden Aircraft Company. With Sharp & Thompson, Berwick, Pratt in Vancouver, she worked closely with Charles Pratt in the designing of important post-war modernist houses, including for Saba, Gregg, Mathers and Brooks residences. Notable projects by the partnership of Porter / Wisnicki are the Daniels and Nemetz Houses in Vancouver.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

  • The Catherine Chard Wisnicki fonds was acquired for the exhibition "The New Spirit: Modern Architecture in Vancouver 1938-1963". The exhibition was organized by the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) and presented at the CCA in 1997, the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1997-1998, and the Nickle Arts Museum, Calgary, in 1998.

Archivist's note

  • The Catherine Chard Wisnicki fonds was originally processed and described by David Rose in 1998. In 2008, the original finding aid was modified, by Alexis Lenk, in order to conform to updated documentation procedures.

General note

  • Some information on the architect, Catherine Chard Wisnicki, and in compiling the inventory, was drawn from the publication "The New Spirit: Modern Architecture in Vancouver 1938-1963", by Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe, which accompanied the exhibition of the same name.

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