BLAIKLOCK, HENRY MUSGRAVE, architect, civil engineer, jp, and office holder; b. 26 April 1790 in London, son of Musgrave Blaiklock and Elizabeth Harris; m. there first c. 1810 Catherine; m. secondly before 1823 Mary Morris, possibly in London, and they had three sons and a daughter; d. 9 Oct. 1843 at Quebec.
Henry Musgrave Blaiklock was born into the English middle class, judging by the professions pursued by his family. He had at least two younger brothers: George, an architect, and John, a merchant. Nothing is known of his education, but around 1812 he took up architecture in London, and he soon went into partnership with George. Subsequently George married Caroline Cecilia Price, who, according to family tradition, was the niece of Lord Dalhousie [Ramsay]. It was supposedly at Dalhousie’s invitation that George came to Quebec in 1823 or 1824, accompanied by his wife and children, his mother, and his two brothers with their families.
The contracts and lucrative offices which George and Henry managed to get in Lower Canada seem to confirm that George had a family connection with the governor, whose use of patronage was well known. In 1824 George conceived and executed plans for Holy Trinity chapel at Quebec for Jonathan Sewell. In the winter of 1826, following a competition, he was entrusted with drawing plans for a prison in Montreal, which was, however, built by another architect, John Wells. At the governor’s express request, George drew up a plan for a marine and emigrant hospital in Quebec shortly before his death on 13 Dec. 1828. Henry Musgrave had settled in the Lévis region by December 1827. He had been serving as a justice of the peace for the district of Quebec since 12 June 1826, and his commission was renewed on 15 Feb. 1828. During the years when the two brothers were establishing themselves in the province, only George seems to have been active in the field of architecture.
Henry’s career as an architect and civil engineer began when he joined the Royal Engineers department on 22 July 1830. There he held the office of clerk of works until his death 13 years later. Governor Sir James Kempt* turned to him to draw up plans for the new customs building at Quebec. Presented in the autumn of 1830, they provided for an H-shaped building with two floors, the centre section to be fronted by a porch with Doric pillars. In the end, only the centre section was built, without the porch, in the period 1831–39. In 1831 Blaiklock was again called upon to design a large building. His plan for the marine and emigrant hospital called for a U-shaped three-storey building, with the wings to the rear and in front a porch having Ionic pillars, which Alfred Hawkins* claimed was modelled on a Greek temple to the Muses. This plan, which may have been inspired by George’s, was chosen in preference to others because it would be less costly and would accommodate more patients. The building was constructed in part during the period 1831–43 and was completed in the 1860s; it has since been demolished.
In addition to their imposing proportions and their careful fidelity to a classical idiom, these two buildings were distinguished by numerous decorative recesses, with arched coping stones and embrasures, around the openings. In these respects they constituted excellent examples of English neoclassicism. The hospital was one of the earliest large-scale buildings in this style in Lower Canada, but the customs building, which was never completed as designed, appears to have been adapted to the local context. By multiplying the recesses Henry revealed a penchant for decoration and in this way distinguished himself from his brother, whose buildings were more severe.
From a study of Henry Musgrave Blaiklock’s two main buildings one may deduce, as did historian Arthur John Hampson Richardson, that he created the plans for a house at 73 Rue Sainte-Ursule at Quebec. The façade of this residence built early in the 1830s repeats the decorative copings of the Marine and Emigrant Hospital. Later on Blaiklock was in charge of some minor works. He oversaw the renovation of the court-house in 1840 and the enlarging of the National School on Rue d’Auteuil in 1842. Maintenance of government buildings, left vacant when the capital was moved to Kingston, was entrusted to him for the period 1840–43. There remain many unanswered questions about his career at Quebec that only research into his training and his work in London might solve. Nevertheless, through the size and quality of his buildings, Blaiklock made a remarkable contribution to the development of neoclassicism in Quebec.
ANQ-Q, CE1-61, 3, 8 déc. 1824; 17 déc. 1828; 16 janv. 1833; 19 oct. 1839; 26 avril 1842; 11 oct. 1843; CE1-68, 3 mai 1853; CE1-75, 7 janv. 1828. City of Westminster Arch. (London), Reg. of baptisms, 26 April 1790. PAC, RG 8, I (C ser.), 151: 281; RG 11, A2, 93: 188; A3, 136. Can., Prov. of, Legislative Assembly, App. to the journals, 1842, app.K; 1844–45, app.A. L.C., House of Assembly, Journals, 1826; 1827, app.H; 1828–29, app.DD; 1829–30, app.MM; 1831–32, app.H, S; 1832–33, app.I; 1835–36. Alfred Hawkins, Hawkins’s picture of Quebec; with historical recollections (Quebec, 1834). A. J. H. Richardson et al., Quebec City: architects, artisans and builders (Ottawa, 1984). Leslie Maitland, L’architecture néo-classiques au Canada ([Ottawa], 1984). A. J. H. Richardson, “Guide to the architecturally and historically most significant buildings in the old city of Quebec with a biographical dictionary of architects and builders and illustrations,” Assoc. for Preservation Technology, Bull. (Ottawa), 2 (1970), nos.3–4: 75.