Some early women artists in Regina

This is the first of four posts containing biographies.  See also Some early women artists in Saskatoon, Some early men artists in Saskatchewan and Club women artists of Regina.

Please note that there is a website called SNAC (Saskatchewan Network for Art Collecting) which has quite a number of pocket biographies of Saskatchewan artists active both before and after 1950. Terry Fenton also has a website with slightly more detailed biographies of Saskatchewan watercolour painters, Canadian Prairie Watercolour Landscapes, including a few women, and a few well documented Saskatchewan women artists are profiled on CWAHI (Concordia University’s Canadian Women’s Art History Initiative) I will direct you to any pre-existing online biographies I found, as it is not my purpose to repeat what is easily available. But when I have enough information to add, I will write a short biography myself.  I have gone to great lengths to find maiden names, birth and death dates and traces of these women’s activities in newspapers and a whole variety of other sources useful for genealogy. There are many more artists who were born in the early part of the twentieth century but their exhibiting history was not covered by the newspapers or occurred primarily after 1950.

I will begin with artists I could find little information for, those who placed ads in newspapers as teachers for short periods. I have arranged the artists in a sort of chronological order, rather than an alphabetical one.

Regina and Vicinity

Morning Leader Nov. 23, 1906

Morning Leader Sep. 1, 1908

Edith Macklin, who exhibited in the Regina fairs, advertised herself as a drawing and painting teacher in Regina in 1902 and Ethel M. Wilson  advertised her services in 1906 and early 1907. Miss Broadfoot advertised china painting classes in 1908 and Edna Steele offered the same thing in 1911. I can find no other information about these ladies but it is clear that children and adults had opportunities to learn to express themselves artistically through classes in art at private studios in the city early in the 20th century.

An even earlier ad (below)had more information in it, allowing me to provide some biographical information about:

Mrs. Marie Swanston (b. Quebec,  May, 1848 – d.23 Apr. 1924 Lumsden, Sask.) was named by Ethel Barr as the first art teacher she had as a girl in 1895 Regina. This ad from the The Leader in 1890 is the only other evidence I have of her teaching career. Her name appears in prize lists for the Regina Fair in 1889, where she appears to have won most of the categories.  I have found that her maiden name was Sauvé and that she was married to Ontario-born George Nelson Swanston, a farmer in Assiniboine region.  Seven of their nine children were born in Ottawa, so they came to Saskatchewan after 1888. Mrs. Swanston likely attended the Ottawa Ladies’ College prior to her marriage in 1872.  In 1916 the Swanstons were living on Lake St. in Lumsden where Marie was described as a housewife. Barr’s reminiscences of Mrs. Swanston include the following:  French Canadian educated in Montreal , taught painting in Regina as early as 1885, spent her declining years with family members in Silton, Saskatchewan where she enjoyed sketching the local scene.  Saskatchewan Archives  Board, Ethel Barr Papers, General Correspondence, 1946-51, Marker #37, Letter to Mrs. Holland, Carnduff, Saskatchewan, Jan. 23, 1948. I haven’t found any examples of her work online or any reference to her artwork at all.

The Leader Nov. 23, 1890

marie swanston from ancestry tree

Marie Swanston – photo from an Ancestry.com tree

Marie Victoria Gilroy was born 24 May 1867 in Essa, Simcoe, Ontario. Her family farmed in Assiniboia near Regina before 1885. (her dad is listed in an 1885 directory of Regina)  She declared on the 1891 Canadian census that her profession was an “artist of oil paintings.” In the 1901 census Marie was the only person living on the farm, apart from a hired man, and listed her profession as farmer.  She lived in Regina in 1911 lodging with others at the home of Norman F. Black (her elderly father Charles Gilroy died that year).  The writing on the microfilmed census form is too difficult to read so I’m not sure what she did then but by the time of the 1921 census she was an insurance agent lodging at 2079 Rae Street in Regina.  I can find no advertisement for her as an artist teacher in Regina but she did enter paintings in the 1888 and 1889 Regina fairs and won prizes. (See entry on Swanston for link) A Regina Standard article, related to the 1905 story below, tells us that she went to Europe in 1904-05 for more study of art and gives us some idea of what became of her farming venture.

She was definitely involved with the Regina Society for the Advancement of Arts, Literature and Science. (1910-1914). She delivered a speech in 1913 for the RSAALS called “The Expression of the Absolute.” She must have had a certain reputation to be invited to speak.  Perhaps she was the unnamed illustrative artist for Norman Black’s magisterial History of Saskatchewan and the Old Northwest, published in 1913 (online at www.ourroots.ca).  Dr. Black, a distinguished educator in Saskatchewan and later Alberta, is still the only historian who has paid much attention to the impact of the Regina Society for the Advancement of Art, Literature and Science (p363). Like Marie Gilroy, he was a participant in the Society. Miss Gilroy apparently had a personal art collection because she lent some paintings by other artists to the first RSAALS Conversazione art exhibit in 1910. If you look at the Legislative Assembly art collection website, there is a small miniature portrait of F. G. Haultain painted by Gilroy.  Unfortunately, the maker of the website made the photos so small that it is very difficult to see the miniature image.  Also the date suggested is 1944, which seems more likely to be an acquisition date than a completion date. I still haven’t found out where or when Miss Gilroy died but she would have been very elderly in 1944.

This delightful article appeared in the Regina Leader on Feb. 1, 1905. I don’t know who did the cartoon that was inserted in the middle of the article, but it probably was not Miss Gilroy.  It appears that she was annoyed that her name had been used in an article written by a New York Tribune female reporter covering “Bachelor Girl farmers in the North West.” This story was reprinted in the Christmas 1904 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press and that’s where Miss Gilroy saw it.  She gives us a portion of the Free Press reprint and then her response to it.  In her opinion, the reporter had created a fiction which Miss Gilroy tried to correct in this article. Her words are a perfect illustration of the position of artists in Saskatchewan at this time.

With such a strong personality as she exhibits in this opinion piece, it is likely that she did have the will to give up painting altogether.  I haven’t found mention of her own work in any early 20th Century art exhibitions.

Mary Maltby (b. 1871,England, d. Vancouver 1961). Mary was the eldest daughter of the large Humphreys family who lived in the big shiny house at Cannington Manor settlement. She received art training in Stuttgart, Germany just before emigrating from Europe in 1888. She was a Saskatchewan artist of some repute, receiving notoriety for her sketches of life at Cannington when she entered them in the Fine Arts exhibit at Regina’s Territorial Exhibition of 1895.  Inglis Sheldon-Williams also made sketches of life at Cannington Manor in the same time period, which were published in English magazines and used as the basis for later paintings. It is interesting to compare the description of her work with known examples of his work.  Samples of her Saskatchewan work are in the Glenbow Museum and hopefully some of these sketches survive. This photograph was taken by her husband Ernest Maltby on her wedding day in 1892 at Cannington Manor.

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Clipped from an article on Cannington Manor

The Maltbys left Saskatchewan for British Columbia in 1909. A Leader article published on the occasion of their leaving focuses on her husband’s accomplishments, but also indicates that Mary exhibited her work in Manitoba fairs, too. It also provides some description of the unusual character of life at the short-lived settlement of Cannington Manor, which was slowly abandoned as the rail lines circumvented it.

I haven’t yet found any evidence of her being involved in the B.C. art community after their move.

Annie Barr Brown ( b. 1869 Ontario – d.1921, Regina) was the wife of Saskatchewan’s lieutenant governor, George W. Brown, during his term of office from 1910-1915. The Browns had come to Regina in 1895. As a young woman she had trained as an artist and had exhibited a painting at the Chicago World’s Fair.  She was the sister of George H. Barr and sister-in-law of Ethel Dawson Barr.  Her daughter Beatrice Brown was also an artist who exhibited in the annual Saskatchewan art exhibits in Regina in the 1920s before moving to California. The Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery owns one of Brown’s paintings under the name Annie Barr. The still life, Melons, was donated to the LCW Arts & Letters Committee of Regina by her daughter.  The Mackenzie Gallery has the still life dated to 1892, suggesting that Brown probably did not paint while living in Saskatchewan but she was a role model for younger aspiring artists in the city.

Evangeline (Eva)Gertrude Popham   (b. 1876, Southwark, Surrey, England – probably died in England)  Miss Popham and her father came to Regina about 1904 and she exhibited and taught art in the city until 1920 when she left for England, giving her profession as artist on her travel document.  A social notice in 1918 said that she had had influenza (the Spanish flu?). She was mentioned as being an exhibitor at the first all Regina artist exhibition sponsored by Regina Society for the Advancement of Art, Literature and Science in 1914. (See RSAALS links) She also donated a painting for a war recruitment drive in 1916.

Mary T. Magee had a private art studio and taught and exhibited in Regina between 1910-1915. She seems to have got slightly more notice in the newspaper than her contemporary, Eva Popham.   I have not been able to locate her age but she was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and was described as “young” when she first came to Regina. Magee had one of the first documented solo exhibitions by a woman artist in Regina when she arrived in 1910 and she was the first art teacher of young Saskatchewan artists Fred Loveroff and Harriette Keating.  Although it is not explicitly stated in the article, the implication is that she may have been teaching china painting at the Methodist College (later known as Regina College) in 1912. She took an active role in the Regina Society for the Advancement of Art, Literature and Science, delivering a speech called “Art Applied to Daily Living“ in 1913 and also exhibiting in the first Regina artists exhibit sponsored by RSAALS in 1914. (See RSAALS post for link) She appears to have given up teaching in the spring of 1915  when she left to visit her parents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and apparently never returned to Saskatchewan.

What happened to Miss Magee? Did she marry in Philadelphia? When was she born? Are there any works by her in Regina collections?  I simply could not find out anything else about her in online census records or other biographical resources.

Dorothea Margaret Sheldon-Williams (b.Evesham, Hampshire, England, 1873  d. Regina, Sask., Mar. 10, 1938) Dorothea came to Saskatchewan as a teenager with her widowed mother and other siblings and settled at Cannington Manor in 1888.  The family remained there until 1892 and then returned to England.  However, three of the siblings had a continuing relationship with Saskatchewan.  Dorothea’s brother attended the Slade School of Art in London about 1896 and it is possible that Dorothea, too, attended the school, as she was a practising amateur artist throughout her life.  She returned to Regina in 1910 and spent the rest of her life in that city, working as a stenographer for the Regina Court House. Her brother Inglis lived in Regina during the early war years, painted many official portraits, and became the head of the Regina College art department. Her elder sister Catherine E. Sheldon-Williams who had remained in Saskatchewan and had been an educator at Wolseley for some time moved to Regina in 1920. The two unmarried sisters maintained a household together until Dorothea’s death.  They also worked tirelessly to keep alive the memory of their brother Inglis Sheldon-Williams’ reputation as an artist in the city. Catherine and Dorothea were active with the Regina LCW’s Arts Committee. There is a photograph of the two of them in Catherine’s entry in the Encylopedia of Saskatchewan  Sheldon-Williams Collegiate in Regina is named after Dorothea’s sister Catherine.

Dorothea exhibited in the earliest Regina Artists exhibition sponsored by Regina Society for the Advancement of Art, Literature and Science in 1914 alongside her brother. (See RSAALS post) She was known for her sketches and watercolours of landscapes and people.  She was a founding member of the LCW Fine and Applied Arts Committee in 1920 and exhibited in their annual shows until her death.  She was  a founding member of the Regina Sketch Club in 1923 with whom she also exhibited.  According to the LCW records she painted a Saskatchewan landscape in all four seasons and the paintings were purchased by the LCW for donation to the Legislative Building art collection.  I can find no trace of these paintings on their website but an old description of Regina College includes a reference to Dorothea’s paintings there, very similar to what was described by the LCW report.

Dorothea’s only solo show was a posthumous one, when more than 30 of her paintings were included in the Regina Arts & Crafts Society annual exhibition shortly after she died.  The works were assembled from various collections in Regina to memorialize her artistic efforts. A short editorial remembering Dorothea’s life appeared in the Leader-Post and, apparently, there is a written “appreciation” of Dorothea in the Laurie DeGear Family Fonds at the Glenbow Museum.  It is under Jessie DeGear fonds, Series 2, Scrapbooks 1888-1965, M-314-24b Scrapbook 4-1919-1938 and miscellaneous, p. 19.

A very well known Canadian artist, Mildred Valley Thornton,( b. 1890 Ontario – d. 1967 Vancouver) began her professional artistic career in Regina.  She came to the city as Miss Stinson in 1911, married and remained active in the city’s art circles until she left for Vancouver in 1934. Recently the subject of a new biography (Sheryl Salloum, The Life and Art of Mildred Valley Thornton, Ganges: Mother Tongue Publishing, 2011). which I have not read but assume focuses on her Vancouver career, I know the book will include her reputation for “Indian portrait” painting and being compared to Emily Carr, writing a column on arts for the Vancouver Sun from 1944 to 1962 and leaving a complete collection of what she considered to be valuable ethnographic works intact when she died.  I first discovered her and Mary Maltby in 1989 while researching my thesis on Indian portrait painters in Canada. At that time, there were only a few articles and a short booklet published on her, but sales of her work in the past 25 years have created a lot of interest leading to the latest book.  There are any number of biographies of her on the Internet, SNAC, CWAHI are two of them. I know she also appears in Marketa Newman’s Biographical Dictionary of Saskatchewan Women Artists.

Here, I am only focusing on the information about her Saskatchewan career, found in the news. On Dec. 30, 1911 this ad appeared in the Leader.  Notice how she is offering art history instruction.  The first evidence of her exhibiting in Regina is in this announcement from Dec. 11, 1912.

Thornton, who had been trained in art at the Olivet College in Michigan for 3 years before coming to Regina, went to the Art Institute of Chicago after her marriage in 1915 and attended the Ontario Art College in Toronto for more artistic training under J.W. Beatty and George Reid around 1925. Her twin sons were born in Toronto in 1926. In between all these schooling trips she was also very busy in Regina.  She taught art at Regina College in 1918 and 1919 (Oct.9, Morning Leader, p. 6 – cannot link to this page).

While Inglis Sheldon- Williams is famously known as the first art instructor at Regina College, he was only there for 1916/1917, as he left for England to be an official war artist and did not reside in Regina after that.  He was a brilliant illustrator and painter but his residence in Saskatchewan only lasted from 1888-1892 and 1894/5 at Cannington Manor and intermittently from 1913 to 1917 in Regina and he had much less involvement with art there than his sister Dorothea Sheldon-Williams did.  Mildred Thornton was an instructor at the College at least as long as Sheldon-Williams was.  There is an article on her in the Mar. 3, 1920 Saskatoon Daily Star on p. 8 but I do not have access to this newspaper so don’t know what “Art in the West” said.

Thornton exhibited her work in the LCW annual Saskatchewan artist exhibitions, receiving newspaper mentions in 1922 and later in 1928 and in the early 1930s. (See LCW Exhibitions list) She last exhibited with them in 1935, after she had left the province.  She was a charter member of the Saskatchewan Women’s Art Association in 1929. Thornton was very active in finding exhibiting outlets for her work outside the province and exhibiting her work in the province on her own terms.   From 1928 to 1933, the year before she left Saskatchewan, there were articles about her in Regina (Apr. 21 & Apr. 24, 1928; Apr.10, Apr.12 &  Apr.16, 1930; May 21, 1931Apr. 28, 1933June 16, 1933) and  a spate of articles about her in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, indicating her activity. (Mar. 21, 1933: May 4, 1933; Nov. 23, 1933) Her paintings were a little modern for the taste of Regina citizens so I imagine she didn’t receive much  press coverage until she ‘made it’ by receiving notoriety and honours from Ontario.  She was responsible for organizing the first Saskatchewan artists show at the CNE in Toronto in 1930, probably with the co-operation of the WAA.

Her broadly painted, documentary paintings of Indians, no doubt many done at the 1933 World’s Grain Growers Exhibition in Regina (see my post on this event to come later) where a large gathering of indigenous people took place, would have been in strong contrast to the traditionally painted, idealized portraits of them painted by James Henderson. These had been long known to the  Regina public. Henderson was a much revered artist in Saskatchewan, who like Thornton gained some national (read Toronto/Ottawa) attention in the 1920s and 1930s. A number of other Regina artists practiced “Indian portrait painting” but Thornton’s embrace of post-impressionist style made her endeavours in this line of work very distinctive in the period. She outlined her philosophy of art in Regina when she spoke to a meeting of the Canadian Author’s Association on June 16, 1933.

While Mildred Thornton may not have been the darling of Regina’s art world, The Women’s Art Association did give her a bon voyage dinner and she returned to Regina over the years on her various cross-country speaking tours and sketching trips. In 1942 she wrote an article for the Leader Post and in 1947 her Canadian Club speaking engagement there was reported upon.  Unlike other such renowned artists, the LCW arts & letters committee never gave her a solo show, possibly because she had no trouble arranging such things for herself. Thornton was one of several artists who abandoned the prairies in the 1930s as part of a large population exodus caused by prevailing drought and harsh economic conditions.

Edith Gertrude Vandermade  (b. 23 Apr 1877 in Middlesex, Ontario – d. 1961, buried at Regina Beach) Regina’s première china painter/ceramist from the mid 1920s to 1940s, she held classes and exhibitions of her work almost every year. 1926; 1927; 1933; 1934; 1935; 1936; 1937; 1940 Likely trained in London, Ontario, she moved out west prior to 1901 and lived near Moose Jaw. About 1924 she established a studio in Regina.  She resided at Regina Beach from 1916 with  Mr. and Mrs. G.P. Plaxton who owned a store and boat cruise business there. Edith was deaf and operated a tea shop in the Plaxton’s building called the Ark.  From 1936-1946 Edith Vandermade and Mrs. Plaxton operated a business called the Kosy Korner in Regina Beach.  Vandermade sold her tea cups and porcelain paintings at both businesses and taught china painting at the resort in the summers. Eva Rossie, another old-time Regina Beach summer resident, often hosted Vandermade’s china painting exhibits at her Regina home.  Some of her forms were made with Saskatchewan clay. Right to the Point: History of Regina Beach, a local history available online at http://www.ourroots.ca has many mentions of Vandermade and a couple of photos of her in it.  A number of people recalled her wonderful tea cups and saucers as souvenirs of their time at the resort and also mentioned her parrot Polly who hung out at the cafe.

Edith Vandermade from Regina Beach history

I was lucky enough to find a couple of signed examples of her work online at a site dedicated to antique china painting

Vandermade InkWell

Inkwell signed E.G. Vandermade Moose Jaw  Shakers by Vandermade Limoges Open Salt and 2 pepper shakers set signed  E.G.Vandermade

Helene Pachal – See my blog on Saskatchewan Clay  Stories to 1950 for another biography of a Saskatchewan china painter/ceramist who was also the first female ceramic engineer in North America and internationally famous for her finds of clay in the province.

Laura Amanda Lamont aka Mrs. S.B. Lamont, b. Laura Shannon  (b, Dec. 25, 1880 in Arran, Bruce Co., Ontario, d. 1970 Regina) Online biographies available at SNAC and Terry Fenton’s website (Fenton was a private student of hers as a boy). She is also profiled in Marketa Newman’s Biographical Dictionary of Saskatchewan Women Artists and other places. I am primarily interested in adding information to the pre-existing biographies, which both detail her academic training and her career as a teacher.  Laura Shannon married Samuel B. Lamont in Vancouver according to marriage records online there. Neither of them was from B.C. so it is likely her family members had moved to B.C. by then and they celebrated the wedding there for that reason. Lamont was a lawyer in Regina but I cannot find either of them in the 1921 Census of Canada in Saskatchewan.

The first record of Laura Lamont exhibiting in Regina is in 1922 when she showed paintings in the LCW Arts Committee’s Annual Saskatchewan art exhibition.  It looks like she exhibited every year with them because her paintings were frequently mentioned in reports. (See my LCW Exhibitions List post) Prior to 1930, she is always referred to as Laura Lamont of Avonlea.  She taught art at the school in this small village near Regina.  When she became a founding member of the Saskatchewan Women’s Art Association in 1929, (See my post on the WAA) she was still referred to as being “of Avonlea.” The biographies state that she was an art instructor at the Regina Normal School and she was, but I don’t believe she started this position until about 1930. I don’t know who her predecessor was but I suspect her successor was Wynona Mulcaster in 1944.

Apart from being actively involved with the LCW shows and being a founding member and regular exhibitor with the Women’s Art Association, she also became a founding member of the Regina Federation of Canadian Artists branch in 1943 and exhibited with them. The biographies note the collections that her work is in. You can find six examples of her paintings online at the Saskatchewan Arts Board collection website.

Her obituary says that she taught in Regina public schools, in addition to her work at the Normal School.

Vaughan Grayson aka Mrs. A. J. Mann (b. Sep. 14, 1894 in Moose Jaw, Sask. – d. 1995 in Moose Jaw)  Well covered biographically in Marketa Newman’s Biographical Dictionary of Saskatchewan Women Artists, at CWAHI and in a Virtual Museum of Canada exhibition . Vaughn E.K. Grayson seems to have not had much to do with art associations in Regina. Marketa Newman lists her as art teacher at the Regina Normal School from 1922-1930, based on ambiguous information that Vaughan Grayson gave on exhibition material (she said she taught at Regina and Moose Jaw Normal School), but I believe she was primarily doing this in Moose Jaw at their Normal School, based on a description of her at a Saskatoon teacher’s conference in 1928.  The online exhibition states that she became a teacher at Regina’s Normal School in 1925. She may have taught at both places and based herself in Moose Jaw.

A member of the wealthy and influential Grayson clan of Moose Jaw (Her uncle William Grayson had a personal art collection of some renown), she went to art school and university in the U.S.A. (B.Sc. Columbia University 1924) She began her career in Moose Jaw in 1922 as the director of art for public schools there and also taught art at the U of S summer school for teachers in the 1920s. (exact date unknown) I have only found one mention of her in the Regina newspaper and one mention in Saskatoon, as above. She wrote textbooks on art appreciation for school students in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

However, she was a founding member of the Moose Jaw Women’s Art Association and must have been active with that organization for a brief while. She pretty much left the province in 1930  to live in B.C. and only returned for visits until the 1960s, when she came back to live for a while and joined local Moose Jaw art organizations again. Vaughan Grayson’s exhibition history is centred around the Okanagan region of B.C. and her work was primarily collected in B.C.  Moose Jaw Art Museum gave her solo shows in 1957, 1967 and one in 1979, according to Marketa Newman.

Margaret Fulton Frame (married name Beatty) (b. Oxford, Nova Scotia, 1903-d. Nepean, Ontario, 1985) Margaret Frame seems to have spent her early life in Regina and by all accounts was an art prodigy, studying under Inglis Sheldon-Williams and James Henderson.  Her prominent parents ( Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Fulton Frame) were in a position to help further her career and she went to Boston in 1921 to study at the Museum of Fine Arts and then San Francisco at the California School of Fine Arts in 1923. Regina’s LCW Fine and Applied Arts Committee sponsored a solo show of her work in Regina that year, when she was only 20 years old. (Morning Leader Mar. 10, 1923 & Mar. 29, 1923) Frame spent most of the 1920s in Europe studying art in France and was given a solo show at the Galerie de Marsen in Paris in 1926. She was presented at court in England and painted portraits of many prominent Europeans.  Two of her portraits, Wong Agum (a San Francisco character) and The Old Peasant Woman (done from a Regina model) were included in the Canadian contingent of the 1925 Wembley Exhibition in London and she showed with the RCA and OSA in the 1920s. Based in Ottawa on her return from Europe, she occasionally visited Regina and in March of 1944 Margaret Beatty again had a solo exhibition in Regina under the auspices of the LCW, when she appeared to be temporarily living in Moose Jaw. (Leader-Post Mar. 6, 1944 & Mar. 10, 1944) She married Hazlitt Seymour Beatty during WW II and then set up a studio in Ottawa, where she was based for the rest of her career.  I don’t know what happened to her husband, who served in the military in World War II. In Feb. 6, 1943 pages of the Ottawa Citizen she was lauded for her capability as a poet when she wrote words for a song cycle which musician Hazel McKinnon had composed.

Margaret Frame 1927

Margaret Frame in 1927, Saturday Night Magazine feature

Margaret Frame was the subject of a Saturday Night Magazine feature in 1927 and this photo of her appeared there.  She was always young in any photos depicting her in Regina. SNAC website has a bio, as does the Nova Scotia Archives (NSARM) which also includes a colour image of one of her Nova Scotia state portraits  and CWAHI.

Harriette Catherine Johnston Keating, m.n. Worsley (b. 24 Oct 1898 in Seattle, Washington, d. 8 Jun 1975 in Helena, Montana, USA). Although Harriette Keating does appear in Marketa Newman’s Biographical Dictionary of Saskatchewan Women Artists, I remember that there was not much information on her there.  There are no online biographies of her.  I bought a Harriette Keating painting in a Saskatoon antique store in the late 1990s and have an interest in finding out more so I have gone to some lengths to create a biography of her, not only for myself, but because she seems to have disappeared pretty much from the historical record of Saskatchewan painting despite the fact that she was very well known in her day.

The first mention I find of her in the newspaper was as a young student of the Regina painter, Mary T. Magee. (See Magee for link) She also studied with Inglis Sheldon-Williams while he was teaching at Regina College.  Along with Margaret Frame, who was slightly younger than her, she seems to have been the most revered of the Regina women painters who exhibited in the 1920s and 1930s, a portraitist, as well as a landscape painter.  In September of 1918 Harriette and her mother left Regina to live in Manhattan for two years, where Harriette studied at the New York Art Students League with George Bridgeman and Frank Vincent Dumond.  As the only child of parents Charles S. Keating, an accountant in Regina, and Rose Dewdney, whose father Edgar Dewdney had been the earliest NWT lieutenant governor living in Regina in the 1880s, Harriette seems to have spent an extended childhood living in Regina with her parents until their deaths in 1936 and 1941, respectively.

1933 Harriette Keating Drama League CroppedKeating was an active member of Regina’s social elite and belonged to Regina’s Little Theatre group in addition to her many connections in the small Regina art world.

She must have been recognized as a painter of some substance in the community because she is known to have taught art at Regina College after Mildred Thornton in 1920 and 1921. (Newman says she taught until 1922 but I haven’t seen any mention of her name in this regard beyond 1920) Like her friend Margaret Frame, her work was featured in a solo show in 1924 in Regina, sponsored by the LCW Fine and Applied Arts Committee.  Additionally, she probably showed in every LCW sponsored annual show from 1920 until 1941 and likely many Women’s Art Association shows as well.  (See my blogs on their exhibitions for more information on Harriette’s paintings) She was a founding member of both organizations and her name often appears in newspaper articles as being a working participant in their activities.  She was also a founding member of the Regina Sketch Club and involved in an offshoot of this called the Junior Art League. She frequently exhibited with the Sketch Club when they held their yearly exhibitions.

In 1925, Harriette Keating was the only woman whose paintings were shown in a University of Saskatchewan-curated show on Saskatchewan Art that was exhibited at Hart House at the University of Toronto.  All of the other painters were male.  To my knowledge, this was the first time that a representative number of Saskatchewan artworks were exhibited together outside of the province.  Harriette had three works in the show.  Unfortunately, I have been unable to determine what they were as I do not yet have access to the catalogue produced by Walter Murray, President of the University of Saskatchewan, in consultation with Regina art collector Norman Mackenzie.  Artists of Saskatchewan (Toronto: University of Toronto (Hart House), 1925.

Mackenzie appears to have been an admirer of Keating’s talent.  She was the only woman artist from Saskatchewan whose work was mentioned as being collected by him in 1925. She painted a portrait of his prize winning dog Polar Maxim but he must have owned other works by her, too. He also spoke at the opening of her solo show in Regina, something he appears to have done rarely. I haven’t yet found another instance in Saskatchewan newspapers.

While I have a pretty good idea of what Regina exhibitions Harriette Keating had work in, her other professional activities are far more spotty in the records I looked at.  She exhibited a painting at the CNE in Toronto in August of 1930, along with other Saskatchewan artists.  She may have done this other times as well.  She also exhibited portraits of Regina personalities Barbara Barber and Emile Delay in Montreal with the RCA in 1933. (The CP staff writer in the Nov. 17, 1933 Mail and Empire newspaper noted “her energetic strokes and hard colour.”)  According to Ethel Barr’s notes on Regina painters, Harriette Keating taught art at Balfour Technical School in Regina. I have found a reference to her doing this in the fall of 1931 but I have no idea how long she did this for.  She does not appear to have had any other job in Regina that was cited in a newspaper.

A 1940 catalogue, now digitized on the Internet, called Contemporary Art of Canada and Newfoundland published by the International Business Machines Company contains her name and that of Hilda Stewart as representative of women in Saskatchewan art.  Apparently, the owner of IBM requested a juried group of paintings from each province and from Newfoundland, ten of which were purchased and exhibited by the company at the Canadian National Exhibition.  The representative painting for Saskatchewan was by Augustus Kenderdine but the author of the Saskatchewan section didn’t seem particularly focused on him and mentioned younger artists as being strong representatives of the province. I suspect that the catalogue essay was written by art historian Gordon Snelgrove but have no proof as yet.

Quite recently, one of Harriette’s paintings (untitled), owned by the Norman Mackenzie Gallery, was featured in colour in an online catalogue The Saskatchewan Art Progress Show, 2012, Extension department NMAG. (See my link in Saskatchewan Art History post) No other information about her appears there.  I wonder if the painting is the portrait of Grace Tinning that was in Norman Mackenzie’s personal collection in 1925 or was it a portrait that the LCW Arts Committee called Margaret, which they bought from the artist in 1930 and later donated to the Mackenzie Gallery? (See my link above for LCW buys painting for more information)

I have discovered that there are files on Harriette Keating in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts artist files and at the UBC Fine Arts Library, which I have been unable to access as yet.  Perhaps they may offer a few more tidbits about her professional activities outside of Saskatchewan.

What I do know is that Harriette left Regina shortly after her parents died.  Her departure was marked by a banquet and showing of her work in 1942 sponsored by the Regina Sketch Club (May 11 & May 15) and  the Women’s Art Association. (May 13, 1942; May 15, 1942 & May 18, 1942) Keating moved to Nelson , B.C. where her uncle Edgar Dewdney Jr. lived. (Edgar Sr. had served as lieutenant governor in B.C., too) She got a job at the Bank of Montreal and lived in the city until at least 1945. Some time between 1946 and 1948, she married widower Charles L. Worsley, a man almost thirty years her senior, and lived in Victoria, B.C. the rest of her life. Twice widowed Charles Worsley had worked with the Bank of Montreal, primarily in Ontario, for 40 years, and retired to Victoria.  His sister Violet and brother George, also in Victoria, had lived in Regina (see Little Theatre report above) and Harriette and Violet had been friends.  Whether Harriette met Charles through her Regina Worsley connection or through her Bank of Montreal connection is not known, but the pair travelled often to England to visit Worsley’s son from a previous marriage and may have travelled to Europe from there.

Charles Worsley died in 1967 at the age of 92 and Harriette died in 1975 while travelling in Yellowstone Park, Montana.  Both are buried in the Oak Park Cemetery in Victoria, B.C.

I have been in contact with some of Harriette’s relatives on her maternal side  who mainly live on the west coast and they were unaware of her reputation as a Saskatchewan artist, although some family members own paintings by her.  It seems that she continued to paint while she was in Nelson, as most of the paintings they have are B.C. landscapes.  However, it is likely that she stopped painting or stopped any professional activities after she married Charles Worsley.  According to the wishes in her will (again kindly supplied by a family genealogist), her paintings and the bulk of their substantial estate were left to Worsely’s daughter (a woman not much younger than Harriette) who lived in the USA .

Harriette’s main medium was oil painting but she also did watercolours. The few landscape oils I have seen, like the painting I own entitled Prairie Slough, are done on small canvases. I was shocked to find an online record of the sale of one of Harriette’s fine landscape paintings on a website which said that the painting went for $80.00! It was done in a far broader style than Prairie Slough. I suspect, based on photos of some of these B.C. paintings, that her style of the 1930s was more in keeping with the landscape style practiced by members of the Canadian Group of Painters than her paintings of the 1920s were.  My landscape painting shows the influence of the atmospheric style still popular from the turn of the century.

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Undated oil painting under glass signed by Harriette Keating titled Prairie Slough on back label. Lisa Henderson collection

Edna Colbeck (b.Grand Valley, (b. Ontario 1892- d. 1977 Regina Sk.) Came to Saskatchewan as a child and was educated in Saskatchewan.  She was a public school teacher in Regina for many years. Mainly a self-taught artist who exhibited in the LCW annual shows, she also exhibited with the Regina Sketch Club. Some biographical information found in Watercolour Painters of Saskatchewan, 1981, Mendel Art Gallery catalogue

Kay Bould (b. 1901 in Dumfries, Scotland d. Regina?) Studied with W. J. Phillips, Ernest Lindner and at the School of Art, Regina College. Biographical information from Watercolour Painters of Saskatchewan, 1981, Mendel Art Gallery catalogue. Bould is referred to in online biographies of older, contemporary artists as a wonderful art teacher but I can find no other information about her other than she was a member of the Regina FCA and exhibited frequently from the 1940s on.

Mollie Cruikshank (m.n. Lawrence) An exhibitor of paintings in exhibitions of the 1940s. No online biographical information but she may be listed in Newman’s Biographical Dictionary of Saskatchewan Women Artists.  There will also be printed catalogues from her 1960s shows in Regina which should feature biographical details.

Dorothy Webster – b. 1906 in Manitoba – d. ? ) Dorothy and her sister Jean (b. 1909) may have been taken by their widowed mother from Winnipeg to England and the U.S. for art training in the 1930s, based on some travel documents at Ancestry.com. The sisters exhibited in local shows in Regina  in the 1930s and 1940s.  Dorothy first exhibited in Regina LCW shows in 1928 and Saskatchewan WAA in 1935. (See my WAA and LCW lists) Dorothy also exhibited her paintings nationally and was a founding member of the Regina FCA.  Mar. 22, 1943 . She taught children’s art classes in Regina from 1948.

Dorothy Martin (b. 1909 in St. Peters, Nova Scotia – d. 1984, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA) Good biography of her at SNAC. In addition, she exhibited in Regina with the WAA in the 1940s. (See my WAA exhibitions list)

Ruth Pawson (b. 1908 Stratford, Ontario, d. Regina 1994) Good biography of her at SNAC. Some additions: Ruth exhibited in Regina with the LCW from 1940 and WAA from 1945 (See my exhibitions lists for these organizations).  She taught children’s art classes at Regina College in 1947.

Some other artists with biographical details mentioned in newspaper reports or articles. These artists had little to no exhibition record during the period under study.

Mrs. Rebecca Boal nee Brown (b. 1856, Leeds Co., Ontario – d. 1929 in Regina) A solo showing of her work over the past 50 years was held in Regina in 1927. Her obituary said that she had been a resident of Regina for over 20 years. She and her husband William (d. 1919) had come from Grey County, Ontario to Regina with their nine children.

Mary Filer (b. Edmonton in 1922) a former student of Garnet Hazard’s at Balfour Technical School in Regina where she grew up, Mary Filer brought a large exhibition of her work to Regina from her home in Edmonton in 1941.  See her biography at CWAHI. She went on to become a prominent stained glass artist after 1950.

Mrs. Lydia (Otto) Fuhrmann – (b.1899-1974 d. Regina) Lydia Fuhrmann had one solo show of her paintings at Luther College (Oct. 22 & Oct 25, 1930) but she doesn’t seem to have had any more that were mentioned in the news. She was involved with the Women’s Art Association in the early 1930s and may have exhibited with them, although her name only comes up as an organizer or exhibition helper. She and her husband were very involved with Luther College in Regina and there is a student scholarship there named in their honour.

Edith Shane – A Regina public school teacher whose career and accomplishments to 1947 are detailed in this feature article on her. She may have been Saskatchewan born as most of her early art training took place in Saskatchewan.  She exhibited with the Saskatchewan WAA in 1945 and 1948. (See my WAA exhibitions list) and exhibited with the FCA in Regina later on.

Mrs. M. Davis (Ella) – I believe she was Elnora Maud Davis who died on Sep. 25, 1972 in Regina at the age of 97. She was active in Regina’s Little Theatre as a costumer and puppet maker. She also wrote poetry. She exhibited with the LCW shows in the 1940s and in Regina art shows in the 1950s and had a feature article written on her clay modelled bust of Tommy Douglas in 1949.

Mrs. Arthur Ashley – was a relative newcomer to Regina from Weyburn, married to a minister, who had a feature article written on her sculpture hobby in 1949.

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2 thoughts on “Some early women artists in Regina

  1. Arthur

    Any more info on Miss Broadfoot? I have acquired a selection of charcoal drawings from in and around 1910-1920. Most signed Broadfoot.
    Thanks for the help.

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    1. lisa g. henderson Post author

      Hello Arthur. Thanks for your contact. Unfortunately, as I said in my post, that is all the information I have about Miss Broadfoot but if you have drawings that were made c. 1910-1920, I would check the 1911 Census of Canada, online at Library and Archives Canada to see if you can find Miss Broadfoot living in Regina or the area around there. It would be nice to know her first name. Or if you are in Regina. you could go to the Library and/or Archives and check Henderson directories from 1908 up to see if you can find anything on her. Let me know if you have any luck with these sources. I am intrigued that you have acquired drawings by her. Maybe she taught drawing somewhere. Best of luck. Lisa.

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