Harry Mayerovitch April 16, 1910-April 16, 2004

“Mercurial Mayerovitch, 94, dies on birthday: Architect's last book took an irreverent look at death” / The Montreal Gazette / Alan Hustak / April 17, 2004

Harry Mayerovitch, architect, raconteur, illustrator author and Montreal's most mercurial senior, died in his sleep yesterday on his 94th birthday.

His works had been feted at the launch of his latest book at the Blue Metropolis festival two weeks ago. His last book, Way to Go, was, ironically, an irreverent look at death and dying.

Among the buildings Mayerovitch designed are the house in Westmount now owned by former prime minister Brian Mulroney and the old Jewish Library, which is today the Aegidius Fauteux newspaper archives building at the corner of Esplanade and Mount Royal Aves.

He was also known as a regular contributor of editorial cartoons to the Westmount Examiner.

"He gave old age a good name. He was such a repository of human warmth and insight," said Montreal author William Weintraub, who was at a dinner with Mayerovitch on Wednesday. "He was sharp as a tack until the day he died."

Harry Mayerovitch was born in Montreal on April 16, 1910, the son of Jewish Bessarabian immigrants, but grew up in Rockland, Ont., where his father opened a general store.

He went to school in Rockland and at the Ottawa College Institute before he enrolled at McGill University in 1926.

Mayerovitch was considering a career in law until he walked by the school of architecture's drafting room and "immediately knew I had to spend the rest of my life making pencil marks on sheets of paper."

Mayerovitch obtained his degree in 1933. He spent almost a year working with renowned Montreal architect Percy Nobbs before going into partnership with Alan Bernstein in 1935.

During the Second World War, Mayerovitch turned out posters for the war effort; one of them, Home Front, caught the eye of the National Film Board's John Grierson, who hired Mayerovitch as art director of the NFB's graphics department.

He married Lily Caplan, a school teacher, and they had four children, David, Nina, Robert and Julie. But he and his wife separated, and he shared 13 years of his life with Betty Ann Affleck, who died last year.

There will be no funeral, but a memorial gathering will be held in early May.

Copyright © 2004 Montreal Gazette


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