The Women’s Art Association of Saskatchewan had its heyday between 1929-1948. It disbanded in 1957, according to an essay on the subject of the Moose Jaw Art Guild by Jessica Boyacheck on the SNAC website. She says that the Moose Jaw Art Guild, formed in 1957, was an outgrowth of the former WAA Moose Jaw branch, whose first president had been Vaughan E.K. Grayson.
There doesn’t appear to be any archival holdings for the WAA of Saskatchewan in the usual places despite the fact that they always had an archives officer so there are no minutes, reports, press clippings, etc. available to reconstruct their activities. I cannot find an archive for Barbara Barber or other prominent members. This summary of their activities is supported by newspaper reports only but it constitutes a new archive for studying this group in the future.
President – Barbara Barber, VPs, Laura Fasken & Annie Darke, Rec. Secretary – Effie Martin, Corr. Secretary, Mrs. R. P. Malone, Treasurer, Mrs. Brandon
Executive members: Mildred Thornton, Sybil Jacobson, Eva Rossie, Harriette Keating, Laura Lamont, Susan McLean, Mrs. James McAra, Mrs. T.B. Patton, Mrs. D.J. Thom, Mrs. E.E. Poole, Mrs. Norman Mackenzie, Miss E.D. Cathro. There were over 75 charter members who paid fees.
Honorary Executive: Mrs. Newlands, wife of Lt. Gov. of Saskatchewan, Mrs. James G. Gardiner, Mrs. James McAra, Mrs. Walter C. Murray
Many of the above people were non-artists but there were ten founding artists on the executive, highlighted in magenta.
There were branches of WAA Saskatchewan in Moose Jaw, Assiniboia and other cities. Sask. membership in Nov. 1929 was 190. The Saskatoon Arts and Crafts Society was affiliated with the WAA but there was no WAA branch in Saskatoon as the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society was in full swing prior to the formation of the WAA. In fact, the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society provided a model the WAA tried to emulate. However, the WAA had a good proportion of artists in its membership, unlike the Saskatoon group, and this probably made them unique in terms of how they evolved.
In many provinces the WAA was the active arm of the NCW in the arts. LCW Arts & Letters Committees were supposed to be less active, reporting on and representing affiliated societies. The Regina LCW Arts Committee was an exception and there seems to have been some difficulty between the two organizations as they worked out their roles. The Regina LCW group repeatedly mentioned in their reports, from 1931 on, that they were primarily a study group but they continued to be quite active, holding annual group shows and solo shows for artists and collecting art. In turn, the WAA was meant to be an artist organization but it also had study groups and sub-committees concerned with subjects like architecture, for example. Part of the difficulty was that many of the Regina WAA members had been members of the LCW arts committee and several continued involvement in both organizations.
The clear difference between the two organizations was that artists were attracted to the WAA for its workshops and activities. The WAA, unlike the LCW Arts Committee, also sent artists’ works in exhibition outside the city and the province, providing them with greater public exposure. Additionally, its focus on traditionally feminine arts and crafts gave women artists of all kinds venues to show their productions, opportunities which were not available through the annual LCW Arts Committee painting shows. Although, the WAA was a women artists organization, like the LCW Arts Committee, it did not discriminate between the sexes in its Saskatchewan artist shows, allowing all provincial artists to show their work.
WAA Saskatchewan Activities
May 1929 – Morning Leader announces the formation of the Women’s Art Association of Saskatchewan. Many reports suggest the Women’s Art Association dates from 1928, which could be true in the sense that they organized themselves before they had an official charter. However, the announcement and their reported activities all date from 1929.
Oct. 1929, First annual exhibit of Saskatchewan artists, no online newspaper from that month available, but a WAA report published in November states that it happened. The WAA made $350.00 from it.
Dec. 13, 1929 Report on WAA lecture and business in Morning Leader—————————————————————————————————————–
April 9-12, 1930 the Moose Jaw WAA initiates an Arts & Crafts Festival with a display of multi-cultural arts & crafts in the Rose Room at McInytre’s Cafe. A special display of Hindu relics is included and the newspaper reported that there were hundreds of visitors at the Moose Jaw festival. Jan. 22, Apr.7, Apr. 11, Apr. 12, Apr. 23, Morning Leader.
May 21-23, 1930 An exhibition of paintings by 13 WAA members is held in Coleville, Sk. May 17, Leader Post
July 1930, WAA sends exhibit of Saskatchewan handicraft to CNE in Toronto (Mildred Thornton, a WAA founder, also curates an exhibition of Saskatchewan painters to go to the CNE at the request of Fred Haines, so probably not a WAA initiative). Aug. 21 SSP
July, 1930 WAA sends an exhibit of members’ paintings to Saskatoon and North Battleford fairs
Sept. 23, 1930, WAA Tea is held at the home of Mrs. Barber with honoured guests, artist Margaret Frame and her mother Mrs. Joseph Fulton Frame. Sep.24
Sep 29- Oct 3, 1931 – WAA Painting exhibition at City Hall. Extensive reviews of the show appears in the Leader Post on Sep 30 & Oct. 2, 1931 and Oct. 3. There is mention in the first and third article of Saskatchewan paintings which had been shown in Toronto at the WAA exhibition that summer. I discovered these clippings after I made this post and the exhibition chart below so the 1931 show is not included in the summary there.
First week of Nov., 1931, Exhibition of 30 paintings by Mrs. Barber in Moose Jaw at Grant Hotel, accompanied by china painting exhibits by Moose Jaw ladies, Mary Underhill and Mrs. J.W. Wilkes ————————————————————————————————————
1932 – May 14, published report on activities
1933- Published reports on activities: Feb. 18, Apr 12, May 6, May 12, May 15, May 25, May 31. It appears from some of these reports that a new WAA affiliated organization called the Regina Art Club or Regina Art Association was formed in 1933 with a separate executive – Mrs. A.R. Brown being the first president.
July, 1933 – WAA sponsored Handicraft exhibit at the World’s Grain Growers exhibition in Regina, WAA Needlecraft and china displays are separate entities. See my post on the 1933 World Grain Show’s art exhibitions for links to articles on the WAA exhibits.
Sep. 27, 1933 – Membership tea held at the home of Susan McLean.
Oct. 25,1933 – WAA sponsors a tea to honour Marie Guest at the home of Mrs. E.C. Rossie
Nov. 27,1933, Neudorf Art Committee asks to affiliate with the Sask WAA
Dec. 9, 1933, WAA sponsors a show of arts and crafts by members at Evan’s Flower Shop, a number of individual members hold exhibitions of their work in their own homes the following week. ——————————————————————————————————————–
May 21-31, 1934 – 80 paintings from RCA travelling exhibition are co-sponsored by the WAA and the Leader-Post at the Leader Post Building. May 19, May 21, May 25, May 26, May 28, May 29, May 30, May 31, Jun 1
July, 1934 – Regina Beach branch of WAA holds a fine arts & craft exhibition at St. Bartholomew Parish Hall, Regina Beach. Announcement appeared Jul 10. The Regina Beach Arts & Crafts Association was founded in 1933. Its history can be found in Right to the Point: History of Regina Beach, online at http://www.ourroots.ca. The history is very detailed, taken from recollections and from minutes of the club preserved up to the 1980s, when this local history was written. It is a rare example of a published history of this type of club. Barbara Barber was a member of this club, as were others who lived there in the summer time and exhibited with the Women’s Art Association in the winter.
Sept 30, 1934 – WAA sponsors a tea at the home of Susan McLean to bid farewell to Mildred Thornton who moved to Vancouver. Oct. 1
Oct.18-20, 1934, WAA sponsored exhibition of 40 Saskatchewan artists is shown alongside the travelling NGC watercolour show co-sponsored by the Leader-Post at the Leader-Post building. Boasts the largest attendance of any previous Regina art exhibition. See attached chart. This appears to have been the only Saskatchewan artists show this year as reference to the LCW’s show cannot be found in the newspapers. Oct. 5, Oct. 18, Oct. 19, Oct. 23,
Oct. 27, 1934, Membership tea is held at the home of Susan McLean——————————
Oct. 16, 1935. Barbara Barber attends the annual meeting of the Women’s Art Association of Canada in Toronto and Saskatchewan’s report is singled out in the newspaper report in the Globe and Mail the next day. Barber reports that the Sask WAA has 1500 women members and nine affiliated societies (I assume this number refers to the total membership of all affiliated societies, as it is much larger than the actual membership of the WAA). The Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society, which must also have been affiliated with WAA , is also singled out for its work with New Canadians reported on by Mrs. F.G. Hopper. —————————————
May 6, 1936, WAA sponsored Exhibition of handicraft held at Hotel Saskatchewan
1937 – Apr.3 WAA business report
April 9, 1937, WAA sponsored handicraft exhibition at club rooms, Mitchell Bldg. Several WAA members exhibit paintings, May Kenderdine, Harriette Keating, Laura Lamont, Jean Bell, Laura Fasken, Effie Martin, Mrs. Garnsey, Everal Brown, Annie Darke and Mary Macgillivray and the Junior Sketch Club also has an exhibit convened by Jean Bell. The WAA members’ paintings were likely sent on to Shaunavon and Assiniboia as both Club branches hosted exhibitions of Regina WAA in late April, early May. May 8
May 19, 1937, WAA Banquet and annual meeting at Kitchener Hotel, Regina. Mrs. Barber retires as president. There are 300 members of the WAA SASK. May 15, May 20 and May 29. The reports were confusing as there are two different groups referred to in the newspaper as Art Associations. I believe that the Regina Art Association, which was organized in 1933 as an affiliate of the WAA became more of a separate organization at this point. In 1938 it appeared to turn into the Regina Arts and Crafts Society, an organization quite distinct from the Fine and applied Arts Guild of the WAA. ———————————————————————————–
1938 – Nov. 7 business report (Scroll down column to the bottom of Club notebook area).
Mar/April 1938 – 14 Paintings by WAA Sask members Barbara Barber, Harriette Keating, Laura Fasken, Laura Lamont, Eva Rossie and Effie Martin are sent to WAA Canada for an exhibition at the Lyceum Club. Toronto-based critic Graham McInnes is not impressed by Saskatchewan’s women artists’ responses to their environment, although he had a good word to say about Barbara Barber. Mar. 15, Apr.8, 1938
Nov. 1938 – WAA Sask sends an exhibit of handicraft to the Toronto Winter Fair. Nov.7
Nov. 1938, WAA Regina members send 50-60 paintings to Moose Jaw for a show hosted by the WAA affiliated Allenby Club of Moose Jaw in a Moose Jaw store. Nov.17
1938, Dec. 17-18, WAA Fine & Applied Arts Guild member’s show at the Trading Company Building. This is the first time I ran across the term Fine and Applied Arts Guild. This time period corresponds with the rise of the Regina Arts & Crafts Society, which seems to have been led by former convenors of the WAA Applied arts. The Regina Arts & Crafts Society affiliated with the Canadian Handicraft Guild, while the WAA FAAG did not, so this may have been the cause of the formation of another organization. As in previous reorganizations, WAA members exhibited with their own organization and others like the Regina Arts & Crafts Society. Dec.17 ————-
Jan. 1939, WAA sponsors an annual Saskatchewan artists exhibition in Regina College Qu’Appelle Room. A large contingent of Saskatoon artists contribute. Jan. 18, Jan.19, Jan. 20, Jan.21 ———————————————————————————————————————–
Feb. 25-26, 1941, Exhibition of Saskatchewan art at Saskatchewan Hotel, distinguished by a display of sculpture from Regina sculptors and the Little Sculpture Group of Saskatoon. Feb.27, Feb.28, Feb.28b
April 1941 – Newly formed Arts & Crafts association in Prince Albert is affiliated with the WAA’s Fine & Applied Arts Guild committee.
1941? – WAA Sask sends a handicraft exhibition to Toronto at the request of the Canadian Handicraft Guild for CNE, presumably ———————————————————————-
May 18, 1942 – WAA sponsors a one day exhibition of the work of Harriette Keating in various local collections at Regina College to commemorate Keating’s work in Regina art circles before she leaves for Nelson, B.C. May 18
Jun, July 1942 – WAA curates a large exhibition of representative Saskatchewan artists (20) to send to the Calgary Fair during Stampede week. Calgary reviewers are not impressed. Jun 23 RLP and Jul 6, 1942 Calgary Herald
1942, Last week of July – WAA arranges an exhibition of about 40 paintings and some old-time crafts for the special exhibition honouring pioneers of Regina in the Pioneer room of the Grandstand. Included are landscape scenes of Regina area and portraits of old timers. Jul 28 ————————————————————————————————————
May – Board meeting, May 29
Nov. 1943 – At a board meeting, it is mentioned that 11 WAA members are connected to the FCA Regina branch. Nov. 6 ——————————————————————————
May 25, 1944 – Fine and Applied Art Guild has a party. —————————————-
Feb. 1-4, 1945, WAA sponsors a Saskatchewan art exhibition at Regina College, considerable contributions from across the province, special section showing the work of Reta Summers (Cowley) and her public school age students from Yorkton. The exhibition is said to be the first such event in five years, suggesting that there were no Saskatchewan art exhibitions sponsored by the WAA since the 1941 show . Jan.27, Feb.2, Feb.3
Oct. 25, 1945 Handicraft show includes work from Fort San and Moose Jaw in many materials ———————————————————————————————————————-
Feb. 1946 – Online newspaper edition for February is missing, so not sure if there was a show this year. ——————————————————————————————————
Apr. 9-12, 1947 – WAA Saskatchewan Art Exhibit at City Hall Auditorium. Few names are mentioned in the review, other than members of the WAA, but sculpture was shown. Feb. 7, Mar. 11, Apr. 10 ————————————————————————————————–
1948 – New president for WAA, May 13
May 17-24, 1948 WAA Saskatchewan Art Exhibition at 1828 Scarth St. More than 200 pieces of art work in all media and an extensive list of exhibitors. This was one of the largest exhibitions that the WAA ever sponsored and I believe it was the last. May 18 (scroll down), May 20 —————————————————————————————————————————
Some time in the early 1930s the WAA began to maintain a sales gallery in the Hotel Saskatchewan. There are several references to it but I am not sure if it was open all the time or just periodically.
Barbara Barber 1929-1931
Laura Fasken 1932 – 1934
Mrs. F. J. Wilson 1935-1936
Nellie McBeath 1937 –1939
Mrs. L. L. Dawson – 1939-1941 (she may have been Ethel Barr’s mother)
Barbara Barber – 1942-45
Eva Rossie – 1946-1948
Effie Martin – 1948 –
1936 convenor of handicrafts was Mrs. J.McKay Smith
1937 Mrs. E. C. Rossie or Miss E. Don Cathro, who in the following year (1938)was president of the Regina Arts & Crafts Society, which moved from the Mitchell building to the Northern Crown building at the end of 1937.
Crafts division referred to as Fine and Applied Arts Guild in 1938 and has moved to the Trading Co. Bldg. In 1938 it was a WAA committee convened by Mrs. R.N. Grant, possibly 1939/40, too.
Other Presidents/Convenors of the WAA Fine and Applied Arts Guild
1940/41 -Mrs. L.W. Whitaker & Mrs. J.L. Smith
1941/42- Mrs Whitaker and Mrs. William Allen (Moose Jaw)
1942/43 – Mrs. Whitaker and Mrs. Allen (Moose Jaw)
1943/44 Mrs. E.J. Kershaw
1944/45 Mrs. E. J. Kershaw
1947/48 Mrs. J. McKay Smith
This group doesn’t seem to have had any shows during the war and I cannot find it mentioned in the WAA events afterwards.
1941 Mrs. W. Yaeger was reported as in charge of the newly formed Prince Albert Arts and Crafts Club
1936 Moose Jaw WAA president was Mrs. N.R. Craig
1937 Assiniboia – Mrs. Ellis was president of WAA branch
The following charts chronicle who was in what annual Saskatchewan art show (indicated by underline in the text above) sponsored by the WAA in the years from 1930 to 1948. When you find a name and see the years the artist was mentioned, you can return to the yearly chronicle above and click on links that will take you to descriptions of the shows. Sometimes there are discussions of the work of an artist and sometimes the name of an artist is simply part of a list of names. I have only listed the annual exhibits for which I could find newspaper reports. These charts do not include any craft shows sponsored by the WAA FAAG.
For further biographical information on individuals see my Biographical posts on women and men artists and club women artists.
© Lisa G. Henderson