Canada’s Scottish architects designed a pluralistic, postmodern nation

When Maclean’s magazine invited me to ruminate on why Canadians should care about the Scottish referendum, I discovered that, yes, I did have a few thoughts. The piece runs around 1,100 words, and can be found here in its entirety. It begins like-so:
In uptown Toronto,
if you look east across the street from the Royal Ontario Museum, you
will see an elegant building that symbolizes what the Scots have done
for Canada. It also suggests why, in light of today’s divisive
referendum, Canadians should take a moment to think of their Scottish
cousins. Originally, this stately, three-storey structure formed part of
the University of Toronto. Today, the main tenant is Club Monaco, a
clothing-store outlet geared to young professionals. If you step inside
on a Saturday afternoon, you will marvel at the ethnic and linguistic
diversity swirling around you.

What does that have to do with the Scots? I would argue: everything.
The architect who designed this building, working with philanthropist
Lillian Massey, and as part of an architectural firm owned by G.M.
Miller, was my wife’s grandfather—a Scottish immigrant named William
Fraser. Few people know his name. The Scottish architect has become
invisible. Yet, when you look around from inside this neoclassical
edifice, you realize that the architect is all around you. So it is with
Canada. The Scottish architects are invisible. But if we stop and look
around, we realize that they played a preeminent role in shaping our
country. Nobody owes them more than we do. . . .

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