Ron Thom and The Allied Arts

Ron Thom (1923-1986), Champlain College, Trent University, circa 1967. Photo 1993 by Steven Evans.

November 20 - March 1, 2015    |    Regular Exhibition    |    Cost:

Ron Thom

Ron Thom was one of Canada’s greatest architects, whose landmark projects helped define the nation’s twentieth century architectural identity. But instead of adopting the stark modernism of the International Style, Thom drew on his love of nature and art to create organic, warm and intimate places. Like Frank Lloyd Wright, Thom believed in creating not just a building for a client, but a gesamkunstwerk, or a total work of art, from the landscaping to the interiors and the furniture to the ceramics. It was an ethos that inspired Thom to shape his architecture with poetic drama.


Ron Thom and the Allied Arts explores Ron Thom's architecture in the context of his underpinnings as a west-coast artist. Thom was educated at the Vancouver School of Art, where he met Molly Lamb, Bruno Bobak, and other like-minded spirits who would grow into important colleagues and lifelong friends. He and his peers perceived architecture as an art form, and part of a continuum of all the arts. He had a high respect for the Mingei folk craft movement, wherein potters and other artisans opting out of the industrial age found a higher beauty in the hand-made. Of this architect’s long and diverse career, Ron Thom and the Allied Arts celebrates the most creatively fertile period, 1947-1972, with a focus on his key masterpieces—the west coast houses, Massey College, and Trent University—and the allied arts that informed their design. On display is a selection of Thom’s original paintings, prototypes for furniture and fittings, correspondence, architectural drawings and sketches, archival and architectural photography, the original hand-rendered 1960 Massey College presentation boards, and selections of the artisanal work he commissioned as an integral component of it all.

Curator: Adele Weder
Organized by the West Vancouver Museum in collaboration with Trent University and Massey College with the support of the BC Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts (Architecture).

Lead Sponsors: the Massey Foundation, LLF Lawyers, Canada Council for the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, RAIC/Architecture Canada, Canadian Architectural Archives, DIALOG, Shanna Fromson, Leslie Rebanks

Supporters: Yosef Wosk, Morden Yolles, Daphne Harris, BBB Architects Toronto, Michael C. Miller, Dr. Morton and Irene Dodek, Workshop Architecture, Jan Pidhirny and Jim Ferguson, The Colborne Group, Kathleen Staples, Cam McLellan and Rikia Saddy, Smallworks, Patty Copp Montpellier, Mary Copp Macdonald, Carolyn Copp Malchy, Jim Hancock, Rona Gilbertson, Alastair Johnstone, Jamie Chrones, Michael Geller, Simon Scott, R. James Nelles, Frances Picherack, Todd McKendrick, Allan Hepburn, Russell Hollingsworth, Sue-Ellen McIntyre, Dick Sai-Chew,  Barry Downs, Paul Merrick, Geoffrey Massey, the McLeod Family, Frank A. Hamilton, Coast Modern Film, Chris Thom, Sydney Thom, Robin Thom, Bronwen Thom McLeod, Aaron Thom, Molly Thom, Emma Thom, Adam Thom.