Fonds consists of two series: I. St. Mary's Parish, ca.1945-1983, 0.16 cm, and contains two sub-series: A. Architecture, ca.1945-1983 (architectural plans, general information); B. Correspondence and Newspaper Clippings (pertaining to Father McGuinness and St. Mary's Parish), 1950-1978. II. McGuinn…
1.11 cm of textual records (34 pages : 29 x 42 cm or smaller) -- 9 architectural drawings : annotations ; 89 x 58 cm or smaller
History / Biographical
Originally from ancient Iveagh, which is now County Down, Ireland, the McGuinness family eventually migrated to Liverpool at an unknown time. The McGuinness family were provision merchants in Liverpool, but found supplies limited so they emigrated to Canada. Born on June 20, 1886 in Liverpool, Father Robert James McGuinness moved to Belleville, Ontario, Canada with his family in 1890. He had 7 brothers and sisters, including Oswald A. McGuinness, who settled in Invermere, British Columbia.
Robert attended St. Lawrence College in Ampleforth, Yorkshire, and completed his studies at St. Servan in Rhiems, France, qualifying as an engineer. He held a position with the federal government upon his return to Canada, however when World War I broke out Robert served in the 29th Battalion of CRTS building pontoons behind European battle lines. After returning to Canada, Robert worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway as an architectural engineer, which brought him west to Banff, Alberta. Robert was the resident architectural engineer overlooking the construction of the Banff Springs Hotel expansion in the 1920's.
In the late 1920's, Robert traveled to Rome to enter the seminary and four years later he was ordained as a priest. After serving as priest in Calgary, Robert was appointed Catholic priest in Banff in 1936, where he lived and worked until his death in 1961. To fulfill a personal dream, Robert designed and supervised the construction of the new church building and grounds for St. Mary's Parish (St. Mary's of the Assumption) which was completed in 1951. During his years in Europe, Robert visited ancient churches and cathedrals which influenced the design of the church, primarily the Norman Chateau architectural style.
Robert was also a talented artist. Some of his work can be seen in galleries in New York and in Banff. His work has been reproduced for Canadian Pacific Railway tourism material, including the Spiral Tunnels postcard included in this fonds.
Robert died in Calgary on June 17, 1961, just shy of his 75th birthday, after being ill for a few months.
Scope & Content
Fonds consists of two series:
I. St. Mary's Parish, ca.1945-1983, 0.16 cm, and contains two sub-series: A. Architecture, ca.1945-1983 (architectural plans, general information); B. Correspondence and Newspaper Clippings (pertaining to Father McGuinness and St. Mary's Parish), 1950-1978.
II. McGuinness Family, 1953-1977, 1 cm (private records, including handwritten notes, a memoir, and a postcard).
. IYounger brother Oswald was a surveyor who built the road from Invermere to Calgary
There is some indication that Robert had a role in the construction of the Bow River Bridge or the collection of the stones used for the bridge, but this is unconfirmed