Dan Wiesner

  • 1932–2008


In 1964 Dan Wiesner won a National Design Award from the Canadian Housing Design Council for his design of 419 Moray Street: a single-family, one-storey home featuring a spare, rectangular facade, flat roof and a bold section of unadorned cedar. Wiesner, a St. James native, was described in the local press as a talented "do-it-yourself" builder with an imaginative mind. In fact, Wiesner, originally a carpenter, was far from an amateur and built more than a dozen custom homes a year. While he had no formal design training, Wiesner was prompted to enter the national competition due to a number of encouraging comments from friends and through recommendations from several local architectural firms. As stated by Wiesner’s wife in a period article: "’Our friends kept saying how original it was and how much they liked it’ ... Then, when the architects recommended it, he decided to enter,” with 1964 being the first year he made such a submission. His award was presented to Wiesner by the Postmaster General John R. Nicholson in Ottawa on November 18, 1964.

419 Moray Street, judged by the Canadian Housing Design Council to be one of the 18 best 1964 home designs in Canada, was praised by the national judges as "simple and well expressed with a direct and economical plan." These attributes led it to prevail among 180 other entrants in the single-family home division of the competition. Of the scheme used Wiesner stated that its “uncluttered appearance” was due to his "incorporation of practical necessities into the design." He elaborated his philosophy: "The house is designed as a whole unit, rather than a series of separate units.” As described in period accounts, “This basic theory is expressed in the simple effectiveness of the entire design. Every practical unit, from the lawn foliage to the kitchen cabinets, is planned to fit into the overall design, instead of conflicting with it. The result is a prize-winning home which is both functional and attractive.”

Wiesner believed that similar thinking was required throughout the Canadian building field, stating: "There is a greater need for imaginative architectural design in Canada today." Specific architectural gestures used by Weisner at the Moray Street home included the distinctive wrapping of front beams around an extant tree as well as interior white brick walls and custom designed and built railings.