Home > Artist Database > Bio-bibliographic Database > GRIERSON, Joan Robinson

Artist Database

GRIERSON, Joan Robinson

Toronto, Ontario, 1924
Toronto, Ontario, 2019
Biography synopsis
Following her graduation in 1948 with a B.Arch. from the University of Toronto, Joan Robinson was one of five Canadian students granted a National Design Council bursary for two years of study of industrial and product design at the Chicago Institute of Design. An article in the Globe & Mail, 28 Aug. 1948, entitled “Industrial Design Plan Praised” lists her as John Grace Robinson. She received her M.Sc. degree in Product Design in 1950. Professional experience included assisting University of Toronto architecture professor Eric Arthur in research and preparation for the first National Gallery of Canada Competition. While working for Page & Steele architects (1952-1954) she developed schemes for homes for the aged, an area of interest that she continued to research while travelling in Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden in 1954. Following her work at Sir Thomas Bennett and Sons, Architects in London, England, then the Montreal and Toronto offices of J. & J. Brook, and marriage to architect William Grierson, she pursued independent architectural work, completing over sixty projects ranging from renovations and additions to buildings – all residential. Joan Robinson Grierson was one of the organizers of the University of Toronto exhibition "For the Record" in 1986, which told the stories of the first women who graduated from the University of Toronto in architecture between 1920 and 1960. She was editor of “For the Record: the First Women in Canadian Architecture” published in 2008, a permanent record of firsthand accounts recalling the challenges and accomplishments of these early women architects. (I. Puchalski)
Media used
University of Toronto, 1943 - 1948
Chicago Institute of Design, 1948 - 1950
Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), 1954
File & Archive locations
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC
University of Toronto, ON - Archives and Records Management Services
Virginia Tech, VA - International Archive of Women in Architecture

Writings about
"Industrial Design Plan Praised." Globe & Mail 28 Aug. 1948
"University of Toronto Exhibition." Brewers Retail Store and Warehouse by Miss J.G. Robinson. Fifth Year Student Work. Journal, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada 25.5 (May 1948): 157
Adams, Annmarie & Peta Tancred. 'Designing Women': Gender and the Architectural Profession. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000
Freedman, Adele. "An Intimate Portrait of the First 'Girl' Architects." Globe and Mail 20 Sept. 1986
Freedman, Adele. "Building Blocks: Despite All the Obstacles, There's a Growing Number of Designing Women in Canada and We're Not Talking Joan Collins." Globe and Mail 25 Oct. 1986: E1, E4
Grierson, Joan and the For the Record Committee, eds. For the Record: The First Women in Canadian Architecture. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2008
University of Toronto. For the Record: Ontario Women Graduates in Architecture, 1920-1960. Exhibition. 1986
Virginia Tech. "IAWA Database Information for Joan Robinson Grierson." International Archive of Women in Architecture Nov. 2003

Writings by
Grierson, Joan Robinson. William Grierson Selected Works Toronto: Self-Published, 2016

Search by: