Part of Peter Neve Cotton fonds
Peter Neve Cotton was one of Victoria's most distinguished architects. He designed many contemporary homes and business complexes, but was best known for his restoration and heritage architecture. Among the buildings he restored were Craigflower Manor, Craigflower School House, Emily Carr House, Point Ellice House, and St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Cathedral. He also refurbished the old post office in Duncan (now Duncan City Hall). Cotton was born in Merritt, B.C. on 13 March 1910. He spent his boyhood in New Westminster and attended local schools. He worked in the design departments of several large retail stores in Vancouver and in 1939 enlisted in the Canadian Army. He went overseas with the Seaforth Highlanders, then transferred to the British Army Intelligence Branch. He served with distinction in Egypt and Italy and was discharged with the rank of captain. At the end of the war, Cotton enrolled at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He graduated with a degree in architecture and was instrumental in the founding of UBC's faculty of architecture. He afterwards studied design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and art history at the University of Victoria. A keen historian, Cotton also devoted considerable time to independent research at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Provincial Archives of British Columbia, and various American institutes and academies. Prior to settling in Victoria in the late 1950's, Cotton and fellow architect, Alfred Staples, designed and manufactured furniture in Vancouver. Their modernistic pieces were marketed under the name "Perpetua." Cotton then joined the architectural staff of the provincial Department of Public Works and was involved with the rebuilding of Government House - an experience which sparked his interest in historical architecture. That interest was expressed not only in his heritage building projects, but also in his manuscript history of B.C.'s vice-regal mansions. In 1961 Cotton set up his own architectural practice, one of which he subsequently conducted from his own heritage home on Admiral's Road, Esquimalt. His practice grew substantially in the late 1960's, as public interest in historic buildings increased. Cotton's practice and reputation increased further in the 1970s, despite the fact that Cotton suffered from a circulatory disease. The disease cost him his right leg, which was amputated in 1977. The disease also contributed to his death on 31 December 1978. The collection chronicles the whole of Cotton's life and reflects his many interests and activities. Records include: diaries, daybooks, school report cards, undergraduate papers, and personal correspondence inward plus letters written by Cotton while serving with Canadian Army overseas, 1940-1945, financial records, business correspondence, and project files relating to Cotton's work as architect and interior designer, along with notes, reports letters, and sketches relating to heritage buildings in British Columbia (primarily in Victoria).
Cotton, Peter Neve, 1918-1978