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Globe and Mail: Ron Thom House near Peterborough
Dave LeBlanc | October 23, 2017

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Modernist home designed by Ron Thom blends into natural landscape

From Issue No. 261 | October 26, 2017

In the early 1970s, after enjoying international acclaim with both Torontos Massey College and Peterboroughs Trent University, architect Ron Thom didnt let moss grow under his feet.

As head of the team that would deliver the gargantuan Metropolitan Toronto Zoo in Scarboroughs upper corner, a 1971 Globe article quoted the brilliant young architect (who was then 48-years-old) as describing the pavilions thusly: These things must look right to the animals before they look right to the people. The buildings must merge into the landscape. Of the old Riverdale Zoo, he added, I regard it as an animal jail.

Ward House, designed by architect Ron Thom, overlooking the Village of Mount Pleasant near Peterborough, Ont.
These thoughts, minus the animals, must have been with him as he put pencil to paper to design a home for Canadian General Electric CEO Walter Ward around the same time.Overlooking the Village of Mount Pleasant near Peterborough, the low-slung and very un-prison-like home is part Prairie Style, part Asian temple, part resort at just under 4,000 square feet, and all Ron Thom artistry, although the Thom Partnership was so busy then  North Yorks Japanese-inspired Prince Hotel and the Shaw Festival Theatre would have been in development also  the architect had to call on his former colleagues for help.Ron could not resist doing houses for clients even though it took time away from the more important work in the office. So he would work on the design at home in the evenings, says architect Bill Lett Sr., who worked under Mr. Thom during the Trent University days of the 1960s. Since Mr. Letts new firm, Lett/Smith Architects, which he established with Peter Smith in 1973, was starving for work, he was only too happy to prepare final design drawings and working drawings and oversee the permit process and construction (by Huffman) for Mr. Wards house.
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