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W.R. Best

. . .Best (1826-1899) was from Exeter, England, and the son of an architect.  He emigrated to Canada in 1848, with the intent of assisting with reconstruction of the Congregational Church and other buildings destroyed by the Great Fire of 1846 in St. John’s. He also lived in London, Ont., for a time, and was back in England, practicing architecture with his brother Robert by 1868.

The two series of St. John’s views came out in 1859, produced by Exeter lithographic printer W. Spreat for Best and Newfoundland land surveyor Frederik R. Page as publishers.  Curiously, a year after these prints were issued, Page dismissed the architecture of these same buildings as “of such an inferior description as to be almost unworthy of remark.”  (Concise History of Newfoundland, Frederik R. Page, 1860.)  However, Best’s drafting skills do render the prints as very valuable to the visual historical record of St. John’s.