John C. Parkin

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John C. Parkin

John Cresswell Parkin CC OOnt (24 March 1922 – 22 October 1988) was a Canadian architect. From 1947 to 1969 he was the design chief for the Toronto firm John B. Parkin Associates, at the time the largest architectural firm in the country. In 1970 he formed his own firm, where he worked until his retirement in 1987. John C. Parkin is credited as one of the leaders in developing the mid-century modern style in Canada.


John C. Parkin was born on 24 March 1922 in Sheffield to two parents who were both Parkins, distantly related. His father was a chartered accountant with Parkin and Co., which had been established in the 1880s.

In 1939 Parkin entered the University of Manitoba, and graduated in 1944. Upon graduation, he left for Toronto with fellow graduate Harry Seidler. Parkin took a job with the firm Marani and Morris, and Seidler with William Somerville. Shortly after arriving beginning work, Parkin met John B. Parkin, who was of no relation. In October 1944, John C. Parkin left Marani and Morris to work with John B. The two Parkins decided to form a partnership, but realized that the younger partner required additional design training. John C. Parkin had been offered several scholarships to Harvard. In January 1946 he left Toronto for Harvard, graduating a year later.

In January 1947, John B. Parkin and John C. Parkin officially formed their partnership, called John B. Parkin Associates. The elder Parkin acted as head of the organization, while the younger acted as design chief. In March 1947, John B.'s younger brother, Edmund T. Parkin, joined the firm as a partner. A landscape architect by trade, his responsibility was handling contracts. The new firm modeled its business approach off of that of architect Albert Kahn's firm, with clear divisions of tasks amongst departments.

The firm's first offices were located at 96 Bloor Street West, a building they shared with the firm Mathers and Haldenby. After the firm outgrew this space, it moved to 648 Church Street, a converted house. In 1951 they again moved, this time to an office building on 717 Church Street. In 1955 The firm finally settled at an originally-designed office in the new neighbourhood of Don Mills, the office being located at 1500 Don Mills Road.

Throughout the 1950s the firm acquired several large commissions including the Salvation Army National Headquarters, a new terminal at the Toronto Airport, and the Don Mills Shopping Centre. By 1960, John B. Parkin Associates had grown to be the largest architectural firm in Canada.

In 1969, John B. Parkin moved to Los Angeles to form an American branch of the firm, leaving John C. Parkin in charge of the Toronto office. In 1970, John C. Parkin left to form his own firm, which was called Parkin Partnership. Although unbuilt, the new firm won the 1976 competition for a new building for the National Gallery of Canada.

John C. Parkin and his wife lived in a home he designed located in the Bridal Path neighbourhood of North York. Parkin died on 22 November 1988 in Toronto.



  • Armstrong, Christoper. Making Toronto Modern: Architecture and Design 1895-1975. Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014.
  • Fraser, Linda; Michael McMordie; Geoffrey Simmins. John C. Parkin, Archives, and Photography: Reflections on the Practice and Presentation of Modern Architecture. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2013.