Portnall, Francis Henry (1886-1976)

Francis Henry (Frank) Portnall was born on May 3, 1886, on the Isle of Wight, England. He began his architectural training at the age of 14 and then was hired as a draftsman with the London firm of Weir, Burrows and Weir. In 1906, he immigrated to Canada and worked on a farm in Manitoba. After harvest that year, Portnall was hired by the Toronto architectural firm, Darling and Pearson, and moved to Regina to supervise the construction of the Metropolitan Methodist Church, now the Knox-Metropolitan United Church (ironically, he collaborated on a revised design when this church was destroyed by a tornado six years later). Portnall returned to Winnipeg, but by 1909 was back in Regina as the junior partner of Frederick Chapman Clemesha. Clemesha and Portnall quickly became known for their residential designs; against strong international competition, their design for the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg placed second. Portnall served overseas during World War I and rejoined the firm in 1919. He practised alone after Clemesha moved to California in 1922. Portnall is perhaps best remembered for his churches, schools, and many beautiful homes in the Old Lakeview area of Regina. He was also well-known in the arts as an accomplished portrait painter and vocalist. He died in Regina on September 13, 1976.

Ross Herrington