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stone portico still adorns Government House), the Crystal Gardens and the
Bank of Montreal (now the Irish Times Pub). Elsewhere in the province, he
designed the Vancouver courthouse (now the Vancouver Art Gallery), the
Merchants Bank in Nanaimo (now the Vault Café) and the Bank of Montreal
buildings in Rossland and Nelson. He is also responsible for the Scottish
baronial styling of the Nanaimo Courthouse and the Nelson Courthouse. Rattenbury
designed Mount Stephen House in Field (dismantled in 1963) and
Chateau Lake Louise (the one that burned down in 1924) as well.
After falling out with his commissions for the CPR, he turned to their competition,
the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company, for whom he designed
several hotels and stations. However, none of these were completed because
of the death of its president, Charles Melville Hays, with the sinking of the
RMS Titanic. Rattenbury was also notoriously difficult to work with. He was
a control freak who would constantly tinker with his own designs, causing
last-minute costly changes that would sometimes have him rejecting materials
that had already been purchased. Having underestimated costs to win
commissions, Rattenbury would often saddle his contractors with cost overruns,
to the point of pushing them to bankruptcy.
In the meantime, Rattenbury got caught up with rumours of colluding
with government officials to procure the commission for Victoria High
School, abusing his position to secure the Government House contract and
even criminal activity of using kickbacks to line his own pockets. He was
also accused of using materials from a job site to renovate his own home.
Rattenbury nearly went bankrupt when some land he had bought next to
the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (which went bankrupt soon after losing its
president) was appropriated by the government.
At the age of 53, Rattenbury met the 23-year-old Alma Pakenham, a
twice-divorced flapper from the roaring 20s who listened to jazz and
smoked and drank in public—quite unheard of for a young woman in Victoria
at that time. The two began an affair in secret, but when Florence
Nunn refused to grant Rattenbury a divorce, he made the affair public, galivanting
about Victoria with Ms. Pakenham and even bringing her home for
drinks while his wife hid upstairs “taunted by the sound of their lovemaking”
as The Scotsman newspaper described it. Victoria society was scandalized
and Rattenbury fell out of favour. Even when Florence granted
Rattenbury his divorce in 1925 and he married Pakenham, he and his new
wife continued to be shunned. With ruined reputations, Rattenbury and
Pakenham moved to Bournemouth, England in 1929.
The 1930s would prove to be the eventual undoing of Francis Rattenbury.
In Bournemouth, the couple hired an 18-year-old chauffer named George