Prescott’s Horwood Family: Making Buildings Beautiful

For Harry Horwood it wasn’t about the money, it was about the art and his desire to beautify God’s house.– David E. Martin, President, Horwood Stained Glass Museum, Ogdensburg

Great words from St. Lawrence County author and historian Dave Martin!

Harry Horwood (1838-1917) and his son, Harry James (1865-1947), spent more than 50 years in Prescott and Ogdensburg making stained glass windows for churches, public buildings and residences on both sides of the river.

Ontario Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1888-9

According to Martin, the Horwoods “had their own particular style, which was an English Victorian style, normally painting an image on one singular piece of glass, a much more rapid way of doing things.” Harry Horwood was quite possibly the best glass painter in North America at the time he established his business in 1876.

Horwood Window for JP Wiser_Upper Canada Village

Today, closer to Prescott, Horwood’s stained glass windows can be viewed at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Prescott, the Little Blue Church near Prescott, St. James Anglican Church in Maitland, and at Upper Canada Village where 11 windows from the JP Wiser mansion of Prescott were restored in 2011.

Horwood Window_First Baptist Church_Ogdensburg

In Ogdensburg, there are many sites with Horwood stained glass, including The Frederic Remington Museum, The First Presbyterian Church, Notre Dame Church, the Congregational Church, and the First Baptist Church.

H. Horwood and Sons_Notre Dame Cathedral_Ottaww

During a 2011 restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral, in Ottawa, the signature H. Horwood and Sons, 1879 was discovered on the west wall. A further examination of the glass and painting detail throughout the church indicated that Harry Horwood had fabricated all the original stained glass at Notre Dame.

Horwood Window_Ottawa Public Library

The family’s involvement in designing the 1906 Ottawa Carnegie Library is well-known. Today, the Horwood window has a place of honour at the Ottawa Public Library, which was rebuilt on the same site.

Born in England, patriarch Harry Horwood was the second youngest son of 5 brothers raised by a widowed mother in Mells, near Frome, Somerset. It’s likely that 3 of the brothers, including Harry, attended St. Andrew’s Academy as teenagers, and learned the glass arts. They founded Horwood Brothers in their home town around 1857, but soon moved to larger premises in Frome, with production ceasing as a threesome in 1881.

Harry and his brothers, Edwin (1834-92) and Mark (1840-1904), were listed in the 1861 census as a stainer, a glass painter and a glazier, respectively. Their early work did not go unnoticed, and was described as follows in the Journal of Bath, 1861: “Horwood Brothers were represented by stained glass that was greatly admired for its elegant design and richly blended colours.”

Harry Horwood left England in 1861, settling in Toronto to work with Joseph McCausland on the windows of Ottawa’s first Parliament buildings until 1864, when he travelled back to work with his brothers.

He returned to Ottawa in 1876, and worked for a few years in New York City with William Gibson, the father of American stained glass.

Then, with his wife and 5 of their 6 children, he immigrated to Canada in the early 1880s, and settled in the Prescott area. The Horwood’s last son, Allan, was born in Leeds Township shortly after, the older children attended the Prescott High School, and Harry James earned a certificate from the Ontario School of Art, in Toronto, in 1885.

The Ottawa City Directory, 1895-96

By the early 1890s, the Horwoods owned three stained glass studios: one in Prescott, one in Ottawa that was managed by Clarence Horwood (1867-1912), and the third in Ogdensburg, operated by Harry James.

Younger brothers Edgar (1868-1957), Victor (1874-1939) and Allan (1882-1950) left their mark in Architecture, a field close to their upbringing.

Burritt and Horwood Architects_Justice Building, Ottawa

Edgar served in Ottawa as Chief Dominion Architect, from 1915-17, and worked there in private practice, from 1895-1937. Victor worked with this brother, Edgar, before settling in Winnipeg in 1904. He became Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Architect in 1911-24. And Allan spent the better part of his early career working with Edgar before branching out in the 1920s and designing with Clarence Burritt the Justice Building in Ottawa, built in 1935-38. Allan lived for some years on the Quebec side, not far from where I grew up in the National Capital Region, and provided South Hull with the plans for its first town hall.

Photo of Window for JP Wiser:


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