Born in Vancouver on August 8, 1893 to Cesare Marani and Sarah Mason, Ferdinand Herbert ‘Ferdie’ Marani attended Ridley from 1901 to 1912. He studied architecture at the University of Toronto from 1912 to 1914. In August 1914, Ferdie’s education was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. He enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, was posted overseas, and became a captain in the Third Battalion of the Toronto Regiment. After returning to Toronto, he completed his architectural training in the offices of Sproatt & Rolph. Ferdie opened his own office in 1919. As Lieutenant-Colonel, he commanded the Royal Regiment of Canada from 1932 to 1936. His firm designed the Fort York Armouries for the regiment. During WW II, he served as Group Captain in the R.C.A.F. designing buildings for bases across Canada. He was awarded an Order of the British Empire for his war service in June 1945.
For fifty-two years he was the principal partner in a succession of architectural firms that bore his name. His firm can be credited with the design of hundreds of buildings in Canada from Prince Edward Island to Manitoba. His particular interest in the conservative Classical and Neo-Georgian styles of architecture can be seen in the Bank of Canada in Ottawa, government buildings and many insurance company head offices, hospitals, private schools and designs for private houses.
At Ridley, he is notably the architect responsible, from 1926 to 1949, for several important buildings including the Lower School (1926), the remodeling of the Upper School (1930), Merritt House (1931-32), the Marriott Gates (1934), the Gymnasium (now the Iggulden Gymnasium) (1939), the Schmon Infirmary and the Memorial Great Hall (1949).
Ferdie also took an interest in promoting architecture among students and in early 1923 he established The Thumbtacks Club in Toronto which provided a venue for sketching, drawing, painting and crafts, and formalized a connection with the Beaux Arts Institute of Design in New York.
He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in 1939, and as full Academician of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1947. He regularly exhibited his work at the annual exhibitions of the Academy from 1937 to 1967.In 1948, the firm of Marani and Morris won an Honourable Mention at the 1948 London Olympics in the Art Competitions in the category Architectural Design for their work “Model for a Stadium for the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, Ontario” and received one of the first Massey Silver Medals for Architecture for that design of the CNE grandstand in 1950.
In July 1918, Ferdie married Constance Blake, granddaughter of the Liberal leader Edward Blake. They had two children Elisabeth and Peter.
Ferdie’s younger brother Geoffrey attended Ridley from 1903-14; his son Peter from 1943-53. His granddaughter Jan Marani is a member of the Class of ’82 and his grandson Stephen Blake Marani attended the Lower School for Grades 7, 8 and 9.
Ferdie died in Toronto on July 18, 1971. At his funeral in St. Paul’s Anglican Church, in Toronto, the Rector quoted from another architect, Sir Christopher Wren’s eulogy: Sic monumentem requirat, circumspici. (If you require a monument look around you). The same could be said for Ridley.