Dyde House

Arthur Erickson's only house project in Alberta

Dyde House exterior

Dyde house, exterior (photo credit: ALES Green House Magazine, Fall 2014)

About Erickson’s Dyde House

In 1959, Colonel Alexander "Sandy" Dyde and Dorothy "Bobby" Dyde embarked on a remarkable journey when they purchased a piece of aspen parkland just outside Edmonton, in order to protect it for future generations. A series of land gifts from the Dyde family from 1960 to 2014 for the “Devonian Botanic Garden” (now, the University of Alberta Botanic Garden) was Colonel Dyde’s way of expressing his gratitude to the university where his intellectual interests were first sparked, and where he served as a professor of law for decades. The Dydes reserved a small portion of these lands for their own country residence, plus a large garden to surround it.

With a site now acquired for a botanical reserve and their own summer home, the Dydes knew they needed to hire an architect. Seeing no suitable candidates locally, Bobby asked her circle of arts friends in Montreal for the name of a designer appropriate to the house design commission. One friend suggested they hire a young, relatively-unknown, University of British Columbia architecture professor, Arthur Erickson, to build their summer getaway. Little did they know, Erickson would grow to be one of Canada’s most prominent architects.

Dyde House interior

Dyde house, interior (photo credit: Jim Dobie)

Dyde House was one of Erickson’s first masonry buildings, and his first project outside of British Columbia. It showcases an early example of the ‘flying beams’ that became signature in some of his most famous buildings, and demonstrates that his awareness of landscape was already in place at this early stage in his career. Due to the private nature of Sandy and Bobby Dyde, this project was not publicized, and thus, has not been given the same coverage as Erickson’s other work.

Just after Dyde House was completed, the Simon Fraser University commission changed the course of Erickson’s career forever, and set him on his illustrious path. This prestigious project not only showcased his architectural brilliance but also opened doors to a series of high-profile assignments, solidifying his reputation as one most influential architects of his time.

Dyde House holds a unique and vital place in our history and a landmark to arts and culture to Canada’s heritage.

About the Dyde Family

The Dyde Family’s legacy extends far beyond land donations. Sandy Dyde was a war hero, lawyer and academic, as well as a prominent figure in Edmonton's cultural scene. He played a pivotal role in founding the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and supporting Canadian artists. His forward-thinking approach, in perceiving the potential of what was once considered wasteland, led to the acquisition of 240 acres from Imperial Oil at a modest cost.

Dorothy "Bobby" Dyde was a dedicated patron of the arts, collecting paintings from some of Canada’s most celebrated artists such as Emily Carr. She served on the board of the Edmonton Art Gallery for over ten years, and led its acquisition committee, helping to grow its collection of contemporary Canadian art. On the national level, she also served as the first female trustee of the National Gallery of Canada.

Bobby and Sandy Dyde visiting Oxford in 1953

Bobby and Sandy Dyde visiting Oxford in 1953 (from U of A Archives)

Dyde House became a hallowed gathering place where luminaries like Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, painter A.Y. Jackson, and musicians Tom and Isobel Rolston converged. Here, they engaged in spirited debates on politics and culture, shaping the very essence of Canadian national identity.

Today, the University of Alberta Botanic Garden stands as a living legacy to their vision, a testament to their generosity, and a symbol of the enduring impact of their gratitude to the university and their love for the land.

Learn how you can become a part of Dyde House's history by joining the Dyde House Conservation Initiative.

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