Sam Little. (photo submitted)

History: The architectural legacy of Sam Little

Designs leave legacy in Qualicum Beach, other Island locales

With the purchase of Little’s waterfront resort, St. Andrew’s Lodge, by the town of Qualicum Beach, the last of the Little family collection of photographs and documents arrived at the Qualicum Beach Museum and Archives.

Thanks to Jim Storey and Elizabeth Little, the archives has a great resource: the plans for most of the homes, churches, hotels, public and commercial buildings drawn by architect Sam Little over four decades, from the 1930s to the early 1960s. While the majority of Sam’s designs are found in Qualicum Beach buildings, he also designed for clients in Alberni, Port Alberni, Parksville, Comox, Courtenay, Nanaimo, Bowser, Kitimat, Prince Rupert and Calgary.

He retired at age 83 in 1965.

Simon Mure Little (Sam) obtained his certificate as a naval architect at the Glasgow West of Scotland Technical College, attending night classes while working in the Clyde shipyards during the day. He emigrated to Canada in 1913, and in 1915 purchased 14 acres near Whiskey Creek and set up a chicken farm with help from his brother-in-law Jock Maclaine.

When Jock left to fight overseas Sam moved his family to Vancouver while he worked for four years as an assistant naval architect in Wallace’s shipyards. He helped to design HMS Qualicum, a mine sweeper that was named after the town after a war bonds competition, as well as the ship’s crest, which was adopted by Qualicum Beach as its town crest. He also designed a CPR ferry ship called the Princess Louise. The family returned to the chicken farm after the war years but in 1930 sold the farm to move to Qualicum Beach.

The hundreds of plans available at the archives demonstrate Little’s prolific output and his versatility as an architect.

His first church design was the original St. Stephen’s United Church, which today serves as the Qualicum Community Baptist Church next to the train station today. This 1941 church design was used as a model for small churches throughout Canada after it appeared in a national magazine. He never charged for church plans, so his daughter Elizabeth claimed he became a very busy church architect. The Ligh Gate at St. Mark’s church and Grace United Church in Coombs are also his designs.

St. Andrew’s Lodge displays Sam’s style in many of his 1930s buildings, which was a plaster and beam blend of English and Scottish styles, with some Canadian adaptations.

Gray Shakes, on Judge’s Row, built for H. R. Macmillan, and Ten Firs, also on Judge’s Row, are well-known Little designs as they show the emergence of a distinct coastal style. The use of natural materials that reflect their locale give these homes a look that has maintained its appeal over many decades.

But Little also followed changing trends in housing, as the large ranch style on homes on Memorial Avenue south of the golf course clubhouse show. Known for his perfectionism and attention to detail, Little designed more than 60 homes for a number of local builders.

Public buildings in Qualicum Beach designed by Sam Little include the original village office, the original fire hall, the community hall on Memorial, the original library, the addition to Qualicum School (now TOSH) and Village Theatre. He also designed a number of hotels and businesses, including the Sunset Motel, Snow White Motel, Buena Vista Motel, as well as several major renovations for the Shady Rest Hotel.

– Submitted by Nanci Langford for Qualicum Beach Historical and Museum Society

Just Posted

RDN adopts new bylaw to prevent backflow

Board wants to avoid legal liability

Former Parksville Generals player lands head coaching gig in Norway

New position is a dream come true for Henry Acres

Parksville resort fire caused by flammable gas used to extract oil from cannabis

Investigators detail reasons for explosion and blaze that destroyed building

Suspect arrested following gunpoint robbery in Qualicum Beach

Stop and Shop Grocery was robbed June 5; man now in custody

UPDATED: Wildfire burning near Taylor Flats in the Alberni Valley

Fire is located close to Highway 4 near Sproat Lake

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Update: Two shot, two arrested at Toronto Raptors victory rally

The team and several dignitaries, including Justin Trudeau, remained on stage

Most Read