Category Archives: Handicrafts

Indigenous visual culture in Saskatchewan prior to 1950

What I have been trying to address in my posts on early Saskatchewan art is what I and others term visual culture. Art with a capital A is viewed by many as a limiting description, which excludes many artistic practices. This is especially true when it comes to the practices of indigenous people, who themselves have been stereotyped by the term “Indian.” Without a separate category in their languages which is the equivalent of the English word “art,” it seems more appropriate to use the term visual culture to encompass myriad ritual and material artistic traditions practiced in the prairies by various First Nations groups.

The newspapers I looked at covered the early days of settler culture in Saskatchewan but they also contained a surprising amount of material that could be used for a history of First Nations visual culture in Saskatchewan.  Apart from some anthropological and archaeological studies, I am unaware of any art histories of Saskatchewan which go into any detail about the visual culture of indigenous people during this crucial period.  Crucial because the era represents a time when the traditional way of life was a living memory for many but the free performance of it was no longer allowed because of signed treaties, reserve confinement and the hegemony of settler culture.

Of course, the newspapers were written for and directed to a settler culture audience so what you find is what you get. Today, no one would think of writing a history of art in Saskatchewan without including the important contribution to it by living artists of indigenous heritage, many of whom make reference to past injustices and traditional motifs in their art.  In the period before 1950, no one thought of including indigenous artists in mainstream culture — they were separate and their visual culture belonged to the “past.”  It was framed that way for appreciation.

While there is an overriding sentiment in many pre-1950 newspaper articles that Euro-Canadian culture was superior to the indigenous ones, there was clearly an admiration for the visual culture of the plains people prior to the arrival of settlers.  One only has to look at the significant amount of imagery created by Euro-Canadians on the subject to see that.  That is the topic of another post in this blog, one I feel more qualified to speak to, being a descendant of the settler culture and having studied the image of the” Indian” in  settler culture for many years.

However, I am presenting a number of avenues for research in the newspapers that could be followed by students of indigenous art history with the list that follows. I find the prize lists of “Indian handicraft” winners in the annual summer fairs a particularly valuable way to study early 20th century indigenous art because they include names of individual practitioners.  Many of the displays mediated by settler culture tropes do not mention names of individual artists and while they are descriptive of the products of indigenous artists, they don’t specify many of the individual producers. Therefore, these prize lists in the Regina newspapers are a goldmine, even though they only use the fair categories created and judged by settler culture to describe the work.

The early fairs often displayed the farm products produced by people living on reserves or going to “Industrial Schools” and listed the names of winners. So at least as far back as 1890 you can find who grew the best potatoes or made the best aprons and where they lived.  More interesting are the handicraft displays which feature both European-style crafts and indigenous crafts made by First Nations people.  In the 1908 Morning Leader, for example, you can find that Pimotat won the prize for his fire bag at the File Hills fair and that Mrs. J.R. Thomas made the best beaded moccasins and Red Dog won the prize for silk embroidered moccasins.

As well there are frequently commentaries on the gatherings and activities of the groups of indigenous people who often camped at the summer fairs.  For the settlers, these encampments provided an “exhibition” of an old prairie life so different from their own.  Read the accounts of the Indian exhibits at the 1911 Dominion fair in Regina, both the prize list (scroll right to next page) and the account of the presence of the File Hills band on the premises and a rumination on its presence among the other art exhibits. Once you know when the fairs were held, you can look up the lists year after year in Regina or other ones if you can find them. Here are some lists and articles I retrieved:

Morning Leader: Jul 22, 1916, Jul 28, 1921, Jul 27, 1926, Leader Post Jul 30, 1930, Aug 2, 1930, Jul 27, 1937, Aug 2, 1940,

The Saskatoon Phoenix does not contain much reference to the presence of indigenous people at the fairs until the 1930s.  Jul 23, 1936, Jul 28, 1938 are examples.  Saskatoon’s fair had begun in the 19th Century but it was a much smaller scale affair until the 1920s and older settlements in the north like North Battleford and Prince Albert were more likely gathering places for indigenous people at fair time. However, I found this 1941 article which states that indigenous people had been a presence at the Saskatoon fair for 60 years.

Sometimes there are actual reviews of the “Indian exhibits” like in July 30, 1930 Regina Leader Post above. The 1933 World’s Grain Exhibition in Regina had a huge handicraft exhibit and attracted a lot of indigenous groups to the fair grounds.  Read accounts of the Indian village, the prize lists and editorials on the impression that the indigenous component added to this one and only world fair held in Saskatchewan. Aug 1, 1933 See this prize list and editorial page of the same issue, noted in my post on the 1933 World’s Grain Show.

Another particularly useful avenue for study is the miscellaneous accounts of artifacts being found or collected by individuals and institutions. The provenance of where many anonymous articles now in collections came from is a good thing to know.  See: Nov. 21, 1907 Morning Leader for an account of the finding of a large stone near File Hills which had a sun god’s face carved into it.  July 6, 1906 An Interesting Find at Balcarres of a stone pictograph and Aug 16, 1937 RLP another account of a stone idol.

The 1907 story may be related to the stone which was found in Archibald McDonald’s house in Fort Qu’appelle when a Regina reporter came to call in Jul 17,1913 Morning Leader.  Perhaps it was even the stone that Edmond Morris planned to use in the Treaty Memorial at Ft. Qu’Appelle. See my post on Western Art Association

Jan. 7, 1915 tells of the beginning of a collection of Indian artifacts at Saskatchewan’s Provincial Museum, Regina. May 19, 1917  annnouncement that the Smith & Vidal collections will be shown at Regina Fair. Sep 15, 1920 announcement of a donation to Museum.  Mar. 24, 1928 Mary B. Weekes collection (Mary Weekes was a member of the LCW Arts and Letters Committee who actively collected Indian crafts and also wrote about them, Mar 30, 1928)  Aug. 1, 1934 RLP Museum display of early artifacts.

Apr. 16 1934 RLP story in RLP about donations to Provincial Museum. 1935 story in Star Phoenix re: stone implements collected by the University of Saskatchewan shown at the fair. May 15, 1934 RLP story about a furnace used to make arrow heads uncovered by winds of the drought. Apr. 14, 1934 SSP relics uncovered by wind. Jan 6, 1944 SSP collector makes plea for artifact museum.

Then there are the accounts of settler clubs who believed they were encouraging the perpetuation and appreciation of indigenous crafts or helping people to earn money by making them more palatable for a larger audience.  See the posts on the Western Art Association, Saskatoon Arts & Crafts  Society and the  LCW Arts and Letters Committee of Regina who collected older examples of  beadwork for historical purposes.  While religious groups may deserve the bad rap they’ve been given in some contexts,  there is one account of a church woman who seemed to be honestly assisting the people in her district to earn money by perpetuating their traditional crafts.  SSP Dec. 7,1940Nov. 14, 1939 & Nov. 20 same year

There are interesting discussions of indigenous ceremonial activities in the following articles:

Morning Leader Magazine article on Feb 7, 1925 discussing feathers and beads. Lebret pageant 1925  Aug 17, Aug 18 and accompanying photos Aug 11, 13, 14.   Apr 5, 1924 (scroll to next page) account of sun dance. July 27, 1931 SSP revival of rain dance. Jul 26, 1939 and Jul 23, 1943 SSP White man made chief. Aug. 16, 1947 SSP Poundmakers tent returned. Feb 4, 1954 RLP recounts how Poundmaker was an early advocate for women’s rights.  Oct. 31, 1950 SSP Battleford Indians honour chieftain

I also captured some articles on historical events during the early period and opinion pieces which provide a context and suggest ideas about indigenous people in this time.  There will be more on this in my future post on the image of the Indian in Saskatchewan.

Jul 11, 1936 RLP, Piapot Reserve treaty days celebration

May 15, 1926 RLP Indians Progress. Oct. 8, 1928 SSP Indian Day school photos. July 13, 1934 RLP Indians as teachers. Apr. 25, 1935 SSP John Smith Jr. asks for ancient hunting rights

Dec. 24, 1938 SSP Tuberculosis waning. Sep 12, 1934 SSP, Dreaver leads protest Aug. 4, 1938 SSP  Death of Dreaver. Aug. 12, 1938 RLP Indian housing

Dec. 15, 1939 SSP Indian opera singer. Feb. 7, 1940 SSP Plight of Indians in Yorkton, Aug. 12, 1938 SSP History of Metis

Jan. 9, 1946 The Place of the Indian editorial in RLP.  Sept. 4, 1948 SSP Dundurn Indians immigrants.

Feb. 17, 1951 SSP Historic Massacre of Indians. Jan 15, 1919 Alex Brass wins WWI medal.  Oct 5, 1945 RLP Cree woman in CWAC.

Nov 1, 1965 SSP – Profile of Prince Albert Residential School.

Grey Owl, an Englishman inhabiting an ” Indian” identity, got more press than anyone else.  Aug 3, 1937 SSP reports on Grey Owl advocating for Indian rights and assessing the state of indigenous art. He was the subject of quite a number of articles when he died. See Apr 13, 1938 SSP and daily April issues following for discussions of Grey Owl’s identity.  Another posthumous discussion of Grey Owl can be found in Nov 27, 1939 SSP.

And there are many historical accounts of encounters between ethnic groups written from the perspective of Euro-Canadian witnesses and writers. The Riel Rebellion is the most common event of this kind appearing in many reminiscence type articles. If anyone is interested, you can contact me for a list of articles I’ve collected.

Most of the websites you can find on Saskatchewan indigenous art deal with contemporary artists.  Undoubtedly, there were indigenous artists using contemporary European art materials and styles prior to 1950 but they seem to be obscure in the newspapers. The first one I came across was Allen Sapp whose career really belongs to the post 1950 period. See the three websites below for more information on contemporary Saskatchewan indigenous artists.

Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre 

Aboriginal artists in Saskatchewan at Artists in Canada website

Contemporary Aboriginal Artists at Encylopedia of Saskatchewan

For images of historical cultural objects relating to indigenous people at a variety of archival collections in Saskatchewan see – Our Legacy  sponsored by the Saskatchewan Council for Archives and Archivists. Otherwise, the sources for historical Saskatchewan indigenous culture can be found in books on Canadian indigenous art.  One of the best discussions I found of this particular period on the plains is in “Tenuous Lines of Descent: Indian Art and Craft of the Reservation Period” by Gerald McMaster, an essay in In the Shadow of the Sun: Perspectives on Contemporary Native Art, Ottawa: Canadian Museum of Civilization, Canadian Ethnology Service, Mercury series Paper 124, 1993. He brings forward the role that the Canadian Handicrafts Guild and the Local Council of Women in Regina played in the popularization of souvenir crafts.


©Lisa G. Henderson


Art at the 1933 World’s Grain Conference and Exhibition in Regina

As far as I know, the World’s Grain Conference and Exhibition was a one off event, never to be held in any country before or since.  The idea for the conference originated in 1927 as a way to celebrate the triumph of Saskatchewan as a major grain growing centre and also to celebrate the 50th anniversary of agriculture in Regina. Originally, it was planned to take place in 1932 but in 1931 it was postponed until the summer of 1933.  The drought and the depression, not envisioned in 1927, were the main culprits.

1931 Cartoon for 1932 Grain show

The World’s Grain Conference and Exhibition was co-sponsored by the City of Regina, the province of Saskatchewan and the federal government of Canada. It took place between July 24 and August 4, 1933 in Regina, combining an academic conference and industrial exhibition with the annual summer fair.

This cartoon was produced when the fair was still scheduled to happen in 1932. There is an editorial in the Regina Leader Post as late as Sep 28, 1931 (scroll up and right) which states that the Grain Show’s future was then still up in the air, even though it had been planned for years and much organizing and spending had taken place. A decision to postpone it until 1933 was made in October.

Some general online sources for information on the exhibition are :

Brief History of Regina brochure online at:

Encyclopaedia of Saskatchewan has an entry

Photographically Illustrated 1933 souvenir booklet at Peel’s Prairie Provinces

I have also found a couple of blog posts which mention specific aspects of the World’s Grain Conference and Exhibition –

The main source for information in Regina’s Leader Post is the special Grain Show supplement of June 30, 1933 in which you can find a number of illustrations of and stories about the exhibition.



My focus in this blog is on the art shown at the World’s Grain Show but I also want to highlight the Grain Show building, illustrated in this full page introduction to the supplement.

Said to be the largest exhibition building of its kind in the world in 1933, the structure was the focus of the displays and was also decorated with interior murals.  It was a rare example of Art Deco architecture in Regina, a city which didn’t build much of anything during the ten year Depression. Because of its size, photographs of it are rare and I haven’t yet seen any photos reproduced in the newspaper of the interior space.


This illustration above, possibly a photograph, gives a better idea of the scale of the building and its Deco elements. A ceremonial entrance to the World Grain Show was also constructed using an echoing design. On Aug. 24, 1931, about the time that the date of the exhibition was in question, it was announced that the building was completed. Construction had begun in February, owing to the mildness of the weather that year, and the building was completely closed in by May. Many of the construction workers were on a relief work program.

Designed by Storey and Van Egmond, a Regina architectural firm, it was the horizontal equivalent in square feet of a New York Deco skyscraper and was framed using steel, although the exterior was clad with wood and stucco, like other one storey buildings.  Its dimensions and cost are mentioned in the Aug. 24 cutline and here below in this first illustration of its design, which appeared in the Leader-Post early in 1931.

1931 Architect drawing of World Grain bldg

1933 WG ceremonial entrance fair


Fortunately, a floor plan published in the newspaper in the special supplement gives some idea of the commodious nature of the interior and what was housed there during the 1933 show. Occasionally, a photo of decorative items on the inside of the building was reproduced in the newspaper.


The Grain Show building was serving as a storage space for the city and various other businesses and housing a curling rink when a gigantic fire occurred in January, 1955, destroying two thirds of the building. Jan. 28, 1955 issue of the Leader Post shows some spectacular photos of the destruction. It was never rebuilt, as the insurance on the building was inadequate and the cost to re-create such a building in the 1950s was prohibitive, estimated to be over $7 million dollars at that point.

The right hand (eastern wing) section of the building in the above illustration remained in use until 2008 when a fire destroyed it, too.  I remember the eastern section, then known as the Caledonian Curling Club in the winter months. You can read more about the 2008 fire online where I found this photo below which shows the scale and colouring of the east wing facade.


I hope somewhere there is a photographic collection of interior shots of this building because it contained murals which must have been destroyed if they were in the building in 1955. Both Augustus Kenderdine, then of Saskatoon, and Fritz Brandtner, then in Winnipeg, were known to have painted murals for the building in 1933, some of which may have survived as I have seen a Brandtner mural in an art exhibition and indications are that the Saskatchewan archives may also have a Kenderdine mural.

One of Kenderdine’s murals was recorded in a photograph reproduced in the Star Phoenix



And Brandtner’s murals were mentioned in a discussion of the Saskatchewan exhibit in the Grain Show building. Jul 5, Jul 13 & Jul 20, 1933 Leader.  The latter articles suggest that Brandtner’s murals formed a backdrop to a diorama display. A specific discussion of Brandtner’s contribution appears on Jul 24, 1933

1933 WGG show diorama

This rather badly reproduced photo of part of the Saskatchewan display may contain a Brandtner mural in the background of the diorama.

Apart from the murals, there were other artistic displays sponsored by the federal government in the Canadian section, like these inlaid grain seed pictures supervised by J.O. Turcotte, the Dominion of Canada’s exhibition supervisor. See an article on the response to these, Jul 28, 1933 LP. Judging from the description, it seems that some of the seed pictures may have been mounted on the ceiling of the Grain Show Building.



1933 Photo of grain decorationThese decorative grain murals were probably sent back to Ottawa after the show.














Fortunately. a collector of World’s Grain Exhibition memorabilia has contributed three photos of postcards to my blog which were on sale in 1933. They show interiors of the building at the time of the exhibition.








The National Gallery Show

A major travelling art exhibition was displayed in the Grain Show Building, a very large collection of 150 Canadian paintings from the National Gallery. I believe this display was the most extensive collection of Canadian art to ever be shown in Saskatchewan at one time and received a lot of press coverage: Jul 20, Jul 21, Jul 22, Jul 24, Jul 25,  Jul 26, Jul 26b, Jul 28Jul 31, 1933 editorial  and Jul 22 & Aug 2 Star-Phoenix, Aug 4, 1933 Leader.  Part of the show travelled to the Saskatoon summer fair after being shown in Regina. Norman Mackenzie, the tall man seen to the left of Lord Bessborough below, arranged to have the show assembled for the Grain Exhibition.


Little is mentioned about any local art exhibitions or competitions at the fair except for J.H. Lee-Grayson’s display at the tea room on the Exhibition Grounds. Jul 28, 1933 LP.  The amateur art competition may have been foregone in favor of the massive handicraft exhibition (see below). However, there was a prize competition for local amateur photography Jul 28 and the usual prizes for amateur household industries and crafts.  A show of paintings by Alberta’s Roland Gissing was on display in downtown Regina at Clay’s Art Studio during the fair. Jul 29, 1933

The Handicraft Exhibitions

Apart from the special travelling show of National Gallery paintings, there was a very special display of handicrafts held at the World’s Grain Show.  Much of the Saskatchewan handicraft show was co-ordinated by the Women’s Art Association of Saskatchewan, although special craft displays were arranged by the Saskatoon Arts and Crafts Society and the Saskatchewan Homemakers’ Clubs.


The W.A.A.’s organizing started early. On Apr.29, 1933 an announcement appeared about what the WAA was interested in obtaining for the exhibition.  On May 5 in SP & May 12, 1933  in Leader Post a request for submissions went out and May 31, 1933 an update on progress appeared.  On Jun 22, 1933  a set of rules for submissions was published and other updates on progress were published Jun 23 and on Jun 27, 1933 Star-Phoenix.  More updates published before the actual exhibition were on Jul 7 LP and Jul 11, 1933 SP. I reproduce here an announcement about the nature of the handicraft exhibit from the Jul 7, 1933 edition of the Regina Daily Post.



1933 Ancient spinning art photo


The Leader ran an editorial on the Handicraft section of the fair on Jul. 27, 1933 and selected articles about the handicraft exhibition are; Jul 24,  Jul 26,  Jul. 27, (There are several articles on craft and china on this page and the next) Jul 28, Jul 29, 1933  SP (The latter is an article that appeared in both Regina and Saskatoon on Alberta wood sculptor, W. H. Hodgson), Aug. 1, Aug.1b, Aug.8, 1933 LP

China displays Jul 24, 1933, LP, Jul 28 & 29, 1933 in the Star Phoenix.

Homemakers’ Clubs – Aug.1, 1933 SP








The Indian Exhibits 

While the indigenous people also showed handicrafts at the World’s Grain Show, their contribution was, as usual, labelled and displayed separately from the settler craft shows.  Their very presence at the Show was an exhibition in itself, as this article (jul 26, 1933) and these editorials from the Leader demonstrate: Jul 22, 1923 & Aug 1, 1933 (please note another opinion piece to the right of this one on the page written by someone with initials M.B.C.). In the planning stages for the exhibition organizers thought that a recreation of the Battle of Batoche using tribal visitors to the fair might be a good attraction.  I’m assuming that someone with a sense of decorum put the kibosh on that silly idea, as this did not transpire. Mar 8, 1933.

Descriptions and prize lists for the craft exhibits can be found in the Leader Post on  Jul 26, 1933, Jul 28, 1933,  Aug 1, 1933,

The City and the Legislature

Although the exhibition was held at the Exhibition Grounds in Regina, the grain conference itself was held in various buildings in downtown Regina and the civic government and citizens went all out in sprucing up the city, anticipating many thousands of visitors coming to Regina. May 2, 1933 & Jun 17, 1933. The extent of civic decoration is described in a Jul 20, 1933 article.

A tent city was set up for visitors to the fair who could not be accommodated in hotels or billets. See these articles from Aug. 1Aug 1, 1933 which gives a real sense of what staying in the tent city was like.



The Legislature then had a Minister of Public Works who was very interested in art, J.F. Bryant, and he arranged for the legislative art collection to be properly displayed and catalogued to welcome visitors to Saskatchewan.  He also commissioned a new mural for the building, which was in place just before the commencement of the World’s Grain Show. Aug.1, 1933 Leader.

There are lots of aspects of this fair covered in the Regina and Saskatoon newspapers and because reporters were there from many outside newspapers, I assume articles about the World’s Grain Conference and Exhibition can be found in other Canadian and American newspapers from July 24 – Aug. 4, 1933. But from my brief perusal of the Vancouver Sun, Ottawa Citizen and Calgary Herald,  the best news coverage can be found in Saskatchewan.


An avid student and collector of the World’s Grain Exhibition has contacted me (2018) and provided some new material for this blog post. There is an essay below and some photos of collectibles provided by him which I have attached here. Thank you very much. If you are interested in the memorabilia shown here or comments raised in his essay, please contact me and I will forward comments to the contributor.

The World’s Grain Exhibition and Conference

The World’s Grain Exhibition was the first, and ultimate, international contest and forum where countries that grew extensive crops of grains, grasses, pulses, and root and garden vegetables could exhibit seeds in competition and participate in a conference for learning and the exchange of knowledge. The event was developed and sponsored by the Government of Canada. Its theme “Show what you grow and share what you know” was prominent in the invitation sent to countries around the world.

Individuals were invited by Canada to compete and to attend; countries were asked to send delegates, display the country’s export products and depict its own natural surroundings. There were 54 competitive classes for seed exhibits and a competition for educational displays by countries. The overall event, planned for 1932 but delayed, was the main attraction at the Saskatchewan Provincial Exhibition, Regina, in 1933.

To display exhibits, Canada’s government had the Grain Show Building built at the fairgrounds. The building, with 150-thousand square feet of open space, had a temporary post office that sold the official grain show postage stamp and franked envelopes for enthusiasts. There were two off-site venues for the conference; one location for the technical proceedings of interest to growers, transporters, and manufacturers; another location for scientific presentations and discussions for researchers and educationalists.

Entrants for the exhibition competitions had to send quantities of seed in advance for pre-judging inspection and germination testing, this done at Dominion Experimental Farms. There were hundreds of classes for entries and thousands of exhibits entered; two-hundred-and-ninety-five alone competed in Hard Red Spring Wheat, the class for Show Champion. Prizes were cash. In total $100,000 was distributed. The list of all awards made for individual classes is thirteen pages in the National Committee Proceedings that records the entire event.

In all, thirty-two countries sent delegates and twenty of those countries provided educational displays, some of which highlighted their products for export. The display by Siam got rated “outstanding.”  The grain exhibition itself took up three-and-a-half acres of display space, was open two weeks, and free to fairground patrons. The Regina Exhibition Association estimated attendance to the grain show as 193,000 fair goers. The Great Depression had caused financial difficulties that necessitated delaying the original start date. It also resulted in several countries having to reluctantly withdraw their application to attend. Nevertheless, the event was acclaimed a worthwhile undertaking, although it remained a one-off.

After the event, the Art Deco design Grain Show Building remained, for many years, the main display space at Regina’s summer fairs and, in part, a curling rink in winter. Over time its interior became shabby, although, on a continuous panel above the support columns the series of murals – original paintings of Canadian scenes – stayed fresh. Those works, by nationally noted artists, were a legacy of the event. In time, separate fires destroyed the building, in part and then in total. The art legacy was lost.

Today, much of the site has been re-purposed into a sports venue. Nothing remains of the 1933 Grain Show Building that had stood to the left of its neighbour, Confederation Park, which is now a preserved green space. Few current Regina citizens remember the Grain Show Exhibition. And presently there is no historical site marker to honour it

Nowadays international events are commonplace and travel to them convenient. Imagine though how arduous a trip could have been for the delegate from Siam (Thailand). He might have been days travelling to a port of embarkation to board a ship that took weeks to arrive somewhere in North America where he could entrain and languish for days before getting to remote Regina. Perhaps his lack of fluency in English may have made his adventure stressful, different customs and social nuances may have bewildered him, and the foreign food might have seemed unpalatable. All that, his extended stay, and having to endure similar discomforts on his journey home must have seemed daunting.

The disappearance of any tangible local connections to the World’s Grain Exhibition leaves only its souvenirs and ephemera as reminders of the event. When such items turn up, many of them migrate to collections of those in organized groups with specialty collecting interests: post cards, or stamps, cinderellas, pins and badges, medals, or fairs’ ribbons, and prize lists. There is no known organized group whose members collect World’s Grain Exhibition material, although there are lone individuals who do collect this event’s items. For the benefit of readers, some pictures are included here that show a few items in the genre. If you have any artifacts or information about the event and its ephemera, or if you have questions about the topic, you’re invited to leave a comment. The statistical and administrative history of the exhibition is well documented, but it’s the unrecorded personal memories and cherished souvenirs that need to be accounted so the history is complete. If you have something, please “Share what you know.”

BR 4.03.18

For purposes of scale, the ribbon is about 8″ long, the medal 1-3/4″,

the Cinderella stamps, each 1-1/4″ wide, the decal 3-1/2 wide, and the

postage stamp i-1/4″ wide.

WGE Ribbon

WGE Decal

WGE 1932 Cinderellas

WGE 1933 48mm rev












I am closing this out with a photo I found online of a commemorative plate you could buy at the 1933 fair.

1933 decorative plate


©Lisa G. Henderson


Art at Saskatchewan Fairs prior to 1950

The annual summer fairs received a lot of press in Saskatoon and Regina during “fair week.” While the fairs or exhibitions were primarily about the business of agriculture, they were also an opportunity for the whole community to get together and enjoy themselves, displaying to others the products that they specialized in. Prizes were an incentive in many exhibition categories. Parades, midways, horse racing and other live entertainments added to the festive atmosphere.

I remember attending summer fairs in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert at various times from the 1950s to the 1980s. As a child, the fair was all about the midways for me but I also enjoyed touring the displays and seeing parades and live entertainment. Being a city girl, It was also one of the few times I saw real livestock up close and personal. John McNaughton’s illustrations of fair week between 1912 and 1914 in the Regina Morning Leader are not that much different from what I remember about experiencing the fair as a young child half a century later and I have included a number of them in this post.



Prior to 1950, the fairs were also an important venue for the display of local art and also for travelling art exhibitions. There were few other occasions or places where local or international art could be seen in Saskatchewan. The prize lists that ran in the newspaper every year provide lists of names of prize-winning exhibitors in numerous categories. Apart from prize lists, there were often descriptions of art exhibitions, particularly exhibitions which were not entered for prizes.  It was here that the work of professional local artists and art from the outside world was commented upon or described.


I cannot possibly include here every prize list from every fair or, indeed, every description of annual art and craft exhibitions.  However, this blog should give you a taste of art at the summer fairs in Saskatoon and Regina over a long span of years. Once you get an idea of when the summer fair was held (eg. in 1930s and 40s  the third week of July in Saskatoon and the last week of July in Regina), you can make a focused search of Saskatoon and Regina newspapers for the kinds of things which may interest you. You might also notice that there are sometimes reports of fairs in other places in Saskatchewan that appear during the week of the city fair.

As the provincial capital, Regina had a succession of special fairs over the years beginning with the Territorial Exhibition of 1895 (representing the Northwest Territories), the Dominion Exhibition of 1911 (a national fair) and the World Grain Grower’s Exhibition and Conference in 1933 (an international fair). Regina also held a special fair in 1942 celebrating its pioneers and the 50th anniversary of the founding of Regina.  The 1933 World Grain Grower’s Exhibition and Conference has its own post, owing to the amount of material I found on it in the Regina Leader Post, but the other important fairs are dealt with in this one. See also my future post on indigenous art for more focused articles on the participation of indigenous artists at the fairs.

Oct 15 and Oct 22, 1889 Regina Leader includes both a commentary on the art exhibit and a prize list.

Nov. 2, 1893 Leader contains a rather interesting article about the Northwest Territories display at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in the summer of 1893.

1895 Territorial Exhibition –  Aug 1, 1895 – A brief editorial on the Fine Arts appears under the banner the Great Fair, Aug. 8, 1895 Sep. 5, 1895 – Review of the territorial fair by a New Brunswick writer.


Jan. 10 (scroll left) & Jan. 24, 1895 Leader describes the scope of the Territorial Exhibition and illustrates some of the buildings erected for it.  Regina’s fair was primarily a tent exhibition prior to this.

Aug. 22, 1901 ML Prize list for art and handicrafts

1911 Dominion Exhibition – Aug. 21, 1911 ML report on the state of the art exhibit written by William Trant of the Regina Society for the Advancement of Art, Literature and Science.  Aug. 14, 1911 ML, comment on the china exhibit in the Women’s World column. Aug. 3, 1911 ML – report on the gathering of indigenous people at the fair & Aug.8, 1911 (scroll right to next page) prize list for Indian exhibits. Prize list for art and handicrafts: Aug. 9, 1911 ML

Jul 28, 1915 Art Exhibits show talent commentary

Jun 22, 1916 – Report on first National Gallery travelling exhibition of art to be shown in Regina at the fair. Jul 25, 1916 – Commentary on the art exhibit Jul 28, 1916 (scroll down) – Commentary on art exhibit

May 19, 1917 ML – Announcement of special exhibition of Indian curios at the summer fair. Jun 22& 27, 1917 – Announcement and list of travelling exhibition paintings at the fair.  Jul 24 & Jul 27, 1917 – Commentary on the art exhibition.

Apr. 3, 1918 ML – report on exhibition facilities cancels year’s fine art exhibit.

Jun 12, 1926 – A look back at the Territorial exhibition of 1895.

1927 -Confederation Bldg. ???????????????????????????????

Jul 31, 1928 – Commentary on a locally organized exhibition of 80 paintings, many by Saskatchewan artists.  commentary on China exhibit.

Photocopy of an undated 1928 Daily Post article on art exhibit.



Jul 29, 1929 (scroll left) – Editorial on fair week. Aug. 1 (scroll right)& Aug. 2, 1929 – Commentary on National Gallery travelling exhibit

Jul 30, 1930 – Commentary on the art competition at the fair. Jul 30, 1930 – report on china exhibit, Jul 30, 1930 prize list.  Jul 31, 1930 – Review of the travelling exhibition of Old master works from the National Gallery. See also reports on indigenous art in my future post.

Jul 31, 1934 – TV displayed at the fair

Jul 30, 1935 – Report on spinning and weaving master & the large handicraft exhibition at the fair.  Jul 31, 1935 – Report on the sculpture of W.G. Hodgson

Jul 28 & Jul 30, 1936 – Reports on the art exhibit at the fair.

Jul 27 & Jul 28, 1937 – Reports on art exhibit which includes 100 watercolours from the Canadian Watercolour Painters Society and paintings from the Royal Canadian Academy circulated by the National Gallery, as well as paintings by prominent local artists.

Aug 1, Aug 2 & Aug 5, 1938 – Reports on the travelling exhibition of Scottish watercolours circulated by the National Gallery at the summer fair. Aug. 4, 1938 – Report on art exhibit by  Balfour Technical School students and other reports on the same page.

Aug. 1 & 5, 1939 – Description of National Gallery travelling exhibition of English paintings.  Aug. 1, 1939 – Description of photograph exhibition & report on weaving demonstration

Jul 29 & Jul 31, Aug 1, 1940 – Commentary on locally organized art exhibition

1942 Historical commemoration of Regina Pioneers – articles of historical interest appear. Jul 28, 1942 – Description of art display in pioneer house. Jul 28, 1942 – Mrs. L. Dawson tells about pioneer days.  Mrs. Dawson was active in Regina arts organizations and was the mother of Ethel Barr.  Jul 29, 1942 – Article describing a hooked rug which depicted the history of the pioneer Chatwin family of Regina.  This rug sounds absolutely fascinating and I wonder if it still survives. See also a number of other articles on Indian art or painting in this issue which I will link in my post on Indigenous art. Jul 30, 1942 – See whole page for history of Regina fairs and description of artifacts on display at the exhibition. Jul 30, 1942 – description of some of the finer crafts to be seen at the fair.

Jun 14, 1947 – Announcement of the Massey Collection exhibition at the fair. More about this in Jul 22, 1947 and Jul 29, 1947 Leader Post

Jul 29, 1949 – Announcement re: art exhibitions at the fair, including a travelling exhibit of British painting sponsored by the National Gallery and one sponsored by the Alberta Society of Artists.

Jul 20, 1950 – Announcement about a large Henderson/Metzger exhibition at summer fair



Aug 6, 1908 (scroll left one column and down) – Discussion of the art exhibit at the fair which included a large display of needlework.

Aug. 4, 1909 –  article mentions the new Industrial Building and a special exhibit by D. Harnett, formerly of the N.Y. Art Students’ League.

Aug.6, 1914 SP – Prize list in art and handicrafts Aug. 5 & 6, 1914 SP Discussions of the art exhibits.

Jul 29, 1916 Morning Leader – announcement of National Gallery show travelling to Saskatoon & Aug. 1, 1916 SP – Article describing exhibits in the Women’s Building briefly mentions the fact that there were 12 modern Canadian paintings on display, sent from the National Gallery of Canada.  This show had merited a lot more comment in Regina.  Aug. 2, 1916 (scroll down one article) a brief editorial mentions the quality of the art show. Aug. 3 & Aug. 5, 1916 contain relevant prize lists.


Aug. 4, 1917 – Much greater attention is paid to the travelling art exhibition from the National Gallery this year.  It had also visited Regina before coming to Saskatoon.

Jul 17, 1919 – Prominent American home economist praises Saskatoon’s Industrial exhibition.

Jul 19, 1921 – Discussion about the improvement of the art exhibition on many levels. Jul 21, 1921 the china painting exhibit and a couple of prize competitors are singled out for mention on the same page in other articles.

Jul 20, 1922 – Description of the special art exhibition at the fair which included a collection of paintings by Gus Kenderdine and etchings and engravings (artist’s proofs) of prints from the Canadian War Memorial Collection along with some photos of the paintings in that collection.  Also prize lists; Fine Arts and domestic manufactures on same page

Jul 28, 1928 – Announcement of a new gallery and praise for the art exhibition which included work by Regina and Saskatoon artists. Jul 26, 1928 mentions that Norman Mackenzie visited the Saskatoon art exhibition, as did J.H. Lee Grayson of Regina who commented on the show in the newspaper (Jul 28, above). The prize list for the amateur competition is on the same page. Jul 26, 1928 – Commentary and prize list for the china painting section and descriptions of other artistic exhibits.

Jul 24, 1929 (scroll down) – Discussion of small travelling exhibition of historical drawings and paintings from a private company and review of showing of local artists Kenderdine, Lindner and others.  Jul 25, 1929 Prize list for paintings, report on needlework exhibits and other artistic efforts on same page.  Jul 23, 1929 – report on China painting exhibition, Jul 24, 1929 – report on the photography exhibition and other reports on craft exhibitions on same page

Jul 23, 1930 – Editorial praising the art exhibit at the fair and report and prize list for women’s art and handicraft exhibit, also a separate report on paintings sent to Saskatoon from the Women’s Art Association in Regina. Jul 24, 1930 – Report on china painting exhibit and on same page one on photography exhibit. Jul 21, 1930 – Report and prize list for the art exhibition which included the Nutana Memorial Art Gallery collection and Saskatchewan artists. Jul 25, 1930 report on Sybil Jacobson’s contribution to the painting exhibit.

Jul 21, 1931 – Report on art exhibition including a brief mention of a travelling exhibit of paintings from the National Gallery. Jul 22, 1931– Report and prize list for china painting exhibition, also a brief report and prize list for handicraft pm same page.  Jul 23, 1931 – Report on the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society contribution to the handicraft exhibition.

Jul 27, 1932 – Report on the art exhibition, including mention of a small travelling exhibition from the National Gallery and the place of local sculpture at the fair, also a report on the handicraft exhibition and prize list and an interesting article on a prize winner in the art section. Jul 29, 1932 – Commentary on the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society contribution to the fair.

1933 – Saskatoon held a “Golden Jubilee” exhibition celebrating pioneers of the area. Jul 29, 1933  – report on art exhibition at the fair, including mention of a travelling exhibition of Canadian watercolours from the National Gallery. See also the report on the W.G. Hodgson sculpture exhibit above this article on the same page.  Aug. 8, 1933 – A separate report also appears on the Kenderdine exhibit. More reports on the travelling exhibition can be found on Aug 10 and Aug 11, 1933.  Aug. 9, 1933 – report on Saskatchewan art show at exhibition. Aug 11, 1933 (scroll right to next page) – Prize list for handicraft exhibition and reports on two special handicraft exhibits. (1 & 2). Aug. 11, 1933 Leader Post also has a report on the Saskatchewan art exhibit in Saskatoon.

Jul 26, 1934 – Report on art exhibit which includes a travelling exhibit of pictures from Calgary and some art works owned by the University of Saskatchewan, in addition to the work of local professionals.  Significantly, the work of Fred Steiger is mentioned, possibly for the first time. The report also includes a prize list for the amateur competition. Jul 27, 1934 – Commentary on the handicraft exhibition which featured a large Ukrainian display.  Jul 24, 1934 – TV at the fair.

Jul 5, 1935 – Announcement that there will be two travelling art exhibits at the Fair: Contemporary British paintings and the Canadian International Salon of Photography, courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada. Jul 20, 1935 – Discussion of art exhibits in a special supplement devoted to advertising the summer fair. (It is well worth looking at the pages of this supplement as there is more info about an arts and crafts exhibition) Jul 24, 1935 – Review of photography show and art exhibit prize list.  Jul 25, 1935 – Commentary on the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society exhibition.

1936 Exhibition billed as Golden Jubilee exhibition. Jul 18, 1936 – Announcement of two special art exhibitions by Gus Kenderdine and L.G. Saunders in a newspaper supplement. Jul 21, 1936 – More about the Kenderdine and Saunders exhibits and a prize list for the art competition (scroll right to next page).  Jul 24, 1936 – Prize list for the handicraft section. Jul 23, 1936 – Commentary on the Indian camp and work by new Canadians at the fair.

Jul 20, 1937 – Discussion of art exhibit which includes work by Kenderdine, James Henderson, Nicholas Grandmaison and notably Tom Thomson oil sketches (probably the ones owned by his sisters, although no source is mentioned). Jul 23, 1937 – Handicraft exhibition prize list


Jul 23 & Jul 27, 1938 – Commentary on the local art exhibit . Jul 28, 1938- Item on manual training and school arts and another one on the Indian work exhibit. Jul 26, 1938 – Brief commentary on the Saskatoon Technical Collegiate art exhibit. Jul 30, 1938 – Item on the display of locally made TeePee ware.  Jul 29, 1938 – Brief report of a man who weaves straw into art, the craft awards  and the amateur art prize list, continued on Jul 30, 1938.

Jul 26, 1939 – Discussion of art exhibit and amateur prize list.  Jul 29, 1939 – Commentary on the school art exhibit.. Jul. 26, 27, 29, 1939 At the Fair columns describe and comment upon visuals at the fair.

Jul 13, 1940 – Announcement about the variety of craft at the summer fair. Jul 25, 1940 – Description of the handicraft and art display at the fair.

Jul 19, 1941 – Frederick Steiger’s painting “Saskatchewan” was used as the frontispiece for the Exhibition supplement of the Star-Phoenix. It was in the Wheat Pool exhibit at both Saskatoon’s and Regina’s fair that year.  Jul 25, 1941 – Camera Club exhibit, also shown in Regina Jul 29, 1941 Leader Post.

Jul 24, 1945 – First art show since 1940 announced for fair

Jul 21, 1948 –  Description of the photography and art exhibition and At the fair column.

Jul 28, 1950 – Description and comment upon the Saskatchewan Art Board sponsored art show at the fair.

©Lisa G. Henderson

Odd art stories of the early days in Saskatchewan newspapers

While researching newspapers I came across stories which don’t really fit into any category I have in this blog but they make for interesting reading.  I’m presenting  them here for your enjoyment.

This story “Stranger than Fiction – The Schemes of a Wily artist frustrated” appeared in the Regina Leader in 1894. Not really a funny story but indicative of the social perception of artists as bohemians, willing to break the rules of society for their passions.

Then there is the 1905 story of Marie Gilroy, the bachelor farmer girl, which again presents an artist as someone outside the norms of society.  It is essentially a funny story but also gives you an idea of how difficult it was to be a woman artist and a woman farmer in a pioneer society.

There were probably many stories of people being duped by artists or art dealers but this one received a bit of press in Sep 24, 1909 Morning Leader.  Sep 18, 1907, Jan. 13, 1908 are earlier articles which explain the circumstances of the later article. I cannot find any information on Charles S. Hatch but it looks like he had a good scam going and the Regina civic leaders were gullible enough. The reporter obviously enjoyed poking fun at the bad judgement of local politicians with the collusion of E.C. Rossie, Regina’s premiere photographer.

Other instances of quite visceral art, or more often than not political, criticism are:

Aug 13, 1920 Morning Leader (scroll right to next page for headline) announced the moving of a painting from the Legislature walls to the basement for dubious reasons.

A similar occurrence was reported Nov 21, 1934 LP. According to what I saw in the newspapers, Mr. Bryant seemed to be the first provincial politician who was reported to have an interest in art.  He had the legislative assembly collection cleaned up and put on view for the 1933 World’s Grain Exhibition and was one of the few politicians to speak about the need for an art gallery.  In 1933 he retrieved two valuable macquette statues from certain destruction. Mar 7, 1934   I believe Louis Phillipe Hébert deposited these pieces with the new Saskatchewan government  when the Quebec sculptor spent a few days visiting at Government House in 1905 (Sep 20 Leader), probably hoping to get future sculptural commissions. The statues can be seen on the Legislative Assembly art collection website.

Most stories about artists confine themselves to what the artist is best known for but in the first half of the twentieth century artists were called upon to do all kinds of work.  I’ve chosen a few of these stories to illustrate their activities.

Early on in his residence in Regina, James Henderson, apart from making oil paintings, illustrated handbooks, decorated scrolls and helped to create window displays (scroll up and to left).

Harriette Keating was probably not the only artist to work on parade floats but this image is the only one I have found which has an attribution to an artist.

Regina Float 1933

Fred Steiger did something similar in World War II when he designed a stage setting for a Saskatoon Victory Loan Campaign and Parade



And Campbell Tinning worked as a painter of backdrops for Regina’s Little Theatre… Oct 29, 1931 LP

Ernie Lindner, a talented illustrator but not known as a caricaturist, was a staunch fan of all things modern. In an illustrated letter to the editor Sep 13, 1947 SP he humorously critiqued the mayor’s idea to have a new city hall built in the neo-Gothic style. I particularly like the “boomtown” Gothic pediments he’s added to the facades of surrounding buildings, so typical of small prairie towns with pretensions in the early days.



Sometimes stories about artists are just interesting.

May 6, 1918 LP – Soldier artist from Regina encounters unimagined difficulties

Jul 5 1921 SP A Saskatoon boy wins recognition in a British Empire art contest

Apr 29 1939 SP Saskatoon born boy wins recognition in the Soviet Union for his sculpture

Jan 22, 1943 SP is about the wartime oddysey of two former Regina art students  & Nov 25, 1944 SP has a Saskatchewan connection

John Harvey Jorskies of Moose Jaw. Oct 10, 1928 Morning Leader.  I wonder whatever happened to him…

Mrs. M. Ewart, Aug 11, 1945 LP

I particularly like this Dec 8, 1937 LP magazine section profile of Superintendant T.V. Sandys Wunsch of the RCMP which mentions his bead working hobby. He showed his beadwork in a Regina craft shows in the early 1940s

Nov 6, 1946 SP it was reported that a Saskatoon artist was hired by the Eaton’s Co. to paint murals on velour for a display. The newspaper praised the display and the Eaton’s employee who commissioned the work but the artist’s name was never mentioned.

Jan 12 1948 SP – Levine Flexhaug, the super fast oil painter of Gull Lake. UPDATE – See small article on Flexhaug in Canadian Art magazine, May 2015.  A curated exhibition of his work toured western galleries beginning in the summer of 2015.  See: Mackenzie Gallery. Who knew?

Nov 1, 1929 SP An editorial appears on the need for a new flag and Mar 12, 1930 SP a pioneer of Saskatoon comes up with an idea for a new design.

Oct 16, 1948 LPFred Lahrman, wildlife painter is profiled

Oct 8, 1949 LP- Possible surrealist sculptor at Eastend, Sask.

Sep 19, 1930 SP Helen Craig ex pat Saskatoon artist

Dec 14, 1935 SP Former Saskatonian Edna MacMillan won a prize for New York Beaux Arts Ball costume design

Nov 2, 1964 Maud Fletcher McIntosh, pioneer of Saskatoon, lifelong painter. Maud was the daughter of Grace Fletcher, a pioneer merchant of the town who had the first protestant church named after her — Grace Methodist Church. Maud attended the Little Stone School House and the University of Saskatchewan.

Mar 14, 1947 LP – We learn that the Moose Jaw fire department has a cartoonist in its midst.

Oct 29, 1924 Morning Leader story about a creative use for Regina mud

Jul 24, 1929 SP Clay statue broken at fair – again no artist’s name mentioned

Aug 3 and Aug 6, 1927 Morning Leader.  Farmer Darnbrough of Laura, Saskatchewan shows his seed pictures at fair. The 1933 World Grain Grower’s exhibition in Regina featured building decorations created in Ottawa using the same technique.


W. V. Magee of Domremy Apr 22, 1925 Morning Leader.  He probably wasn’t the only one making horn and antler furniture .  I have seen examples of it in many places but this is the only article I ran across about it.

1933 Regina World’s Grain exhibition featured photos of two hand-crafted objects which made it on to the front pages of the Leader – farm carving Jul 7, 1933 and model train. Jul 26, 1933. Paintings made by locals never graced the front pages. For more about objects and art displayed at the 1933 exhibition in Regina see my post on the subject.



And then there are the usual stories about undiscovered masterpieces in local collections —

Mar 28, 1917 E.C.Rossie’s mother got a bargain at an auction which she passed on to her son

May 15 & May 17, 1948 LP – Regina resident found to be owner of a possible old master painting

And speculations about recently discovered objects —

Feb 2, 1934 and Apr 17, 1934 SP there appeared reports about a so-called Stone Goddess found on a farm near North Battleford.

Early Saskatchewan Arts and Crafts Organizations

This post is centred on specific arts and crafts organizations in Saskatoon and Regina but I have included mentions of selected other organizations who sponsored arts and crafts shows and education in the years prior to 1950.  While my source is only Saskatoon and Regina newspapers, there was one provincial institution which got coverage in both newspapers, even though most of its work was in rural areas.

The Homemaker’s Institute aka Homemakers’ Clubs began in 1911 and was overseen by the Department of Household Science at the University of Saskatchewan.  Initially the Institutes were concerned with scientific homemaking courses and workshops but I have come across a few of their reports made at annual conventions which show how heavily this organization was involved in handicraft group organization in rural areas in the 1930s.

From the 1920s to 1940s the Homemakers Clubs (known generally in Canada as Women’s Institutes) were often the centre of rural social life and art and craft activities went on in their club rooms.  For example, Bertha Oxner, the Director of Women’s Work at the University of Saskatchewan, organized art exhibits and art education materials that were circulated in rural locations or donated to clubs in the 1930s.

This is a selection of articles which will highlight this aspect of their activities. Jun 20, 1924 SP (this is only a headline, the rest is illegible, but it gives an idea of the interest in arts and crafts at an early stage), Jun 30, 1933 LP, Jun 11, 1937 SSP are two reports from annual Homemakers’ conventions. Nov. 9, 1950 LP is a report on the development of a local club in Melfort. Nov. 9, 1950 SP shows how the Homemakers’ Clubs arts and crafts sections eventually came under the purview of the Saskatchewan Arts Board.

For more information on the Homemakers’ Clubs of Saskatchewan see: Women’s Organizations in Saskatchewan– Report for Culture Youth and Recreation by Dr. A. Leger –Anderson, 31 March 2005 online at’sOrgs , pp. 33-44.


The Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society 1923-1946

This society grew out of the Saskatoon LCW Arts Committee.  In fact, when the Arts and Crafts Society was established as such, the LCW Arts Committee ceased existence for some time. The LCW Arts Committee was established in Saskatoon about 1922 and the few shows it held indicated that the direction of interest was the promotion of handicrafts. In order to accomplish their aims the Arts and Crafts Society became a separate, but affiliated body of the LCW in 1924. Organized and run by Vivian Morton, the wife of Arthur S. Morton, historian at the University of Saskatchewan with the honorary assistance of Christina Murray, the wife of University of Saskatchewan’s first president Walter Murray, the focus was not on members of the association making crafts but on concerns raised by the University’s Historical Association. The Historical Association worried about the disappearance of traditional craft items as modernization took place and was attempting to collect items which might not be produced in the future.  Source for this is Cheryl Meszaros, Visibility and Representation: Saskatchewan Art Organizations prior to 1945, Queen’s University Master of Arts Thesis (1990)P.42-43

In her thesis, Meszaros quotes the constitution of the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Committee, found in the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society papers at the Saskatchewan Archives, Saskatoon, regarding their objectives:

  1. To encourage, retain, revive and develop arts and crafts
  2. To prevent the loss, extinction and deterioration of the same
  3. To aid people skilled in any such crafts by providing a market for their products
  4. To educate the public to the value of arts, industries and crafts and of good handiwork.

The idea was to support and maintain the production of traditional crafts, particularly those made by what were termed New Canadians and indigenous people. I guess the assumption was that the predominantly English culture of Saskatoon was not “new” but no one seems to have referred to anyone as Old Canadians. The Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society held most of their functions in the YWCA building in Saskatoon, like many other womens’ clubs.

Saskatoon YWCA in 1912

Meszaros’ thesis highlights the marketing achievements of this finely tuned organization and the assistance they provided to poor farm women during the depression by paying them for their work, but also the problematic around a WASP group of university- educated society ladies dictating patterns and designs to multi-cultural artisans in order to make their work more palatable or saleable to a WASP audience.

Nonetheless, they provided an example of how to run a craft society by providing educational programs for their members and the public.  Western Producer journalist Violet McNaughton was a member of this organization in the 1930s and she and Luta Munday were in charge of obtaining the indigenous peoples’ crafts.  Luta Munday was a bit of a writer and you can see the problematic public attitudes in some of her publications in the newspaper.  She was concerned about maintaining the integrity of indigenous crafts but she also personally displays the prejudices and misunderstandings that this type of arrangement led to. eg. Nov. 17, 1931 report of a speech and Dec. 19, 1933 and Dec. 16, 1935 SP articles written by Munday.

The Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society became quite famous in Canada for its work and was invited to join the Canadian Handicrafts Guild, headquartered in Montreal. The group declined the invitation because they felt they already had a high profile and did not want to lose it by affiliating with the national crafts organization.  Lack of raw materials for workers, war chaos and the aging of the Society members caused the demise of this group after World War II. There is an article on the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society in Saskatchewan History written by Sandra Flood, well known Canadian craft academic and a former resident of Saskatchewan, but I don’t have access to her discussion of this club. There is a full archival record for the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society at the Saskatchewan Archives Board in Saskatoon.

I would add that the Saskatoon Arts and Crafts Society was the only group in the city who sponsored what could be called solo shows of individual painters, although that was not their purpose.  They provided this honour to Hilda J. Stewart in 1935 and to Augustus Kenderdine in 1936 when both artists were leaving the city.  Hilda Stewart returned to Saskatoon in 1936 to replace Kenderdine at the University of Saskatchewan as art instructor after the latter left for Regina.

???????????????????????????????   ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????


The activities of the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society were well-covered by the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix in the Women’s pages of the newspaper.  Vivian Morton, often the president of this club, was also active with the Saskatoon Art Association and later the Saskatchewan Arts Board. Apr. 4, 1957  She received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1962. May 11, 1962 SSP


Presidents of the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society: List compiled from reading newspaper articles.

1924/25-1928/29 Mrs. A.S. Morton1929 Special report on Stoon Arts & Crafts Society

1929/30 Mrs. Roy Todd

1930/31 Mrs. A.S. Morton

1931/32 Mrs. A. S. Morton

1932/33 Mrs. A. S. Morton

1933/34 Mrs. F. Garnet Hopper

1934/35 to 1938/39 Mrs. A.S. Morton

1939/1940 – Mrs. G. A. Bonney???????????????????????????????

1940/41 Mrs. G. A. Bonney

1941/42 Mrs. G.R. Peterson

1942/43 to 1945/46 Mrs. A.S. Morton







Articles containing historical information on the club:  Nov. 25, 1931, May 17, 1935 SP, Jul 20, 1935, Apr. 16, 1940, SP










Chronological list of articles found in the Google News Archive with some additions from old clippings unavailable at the Archive reproduced here:

Nov. 16, 1923 SP, May 31, 1924( scroll right), Jun 13, 1924, Jun 13, 1924, SP – These articles are mostly illegible but the headlines contribute to the story of the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society.  Newspaper issues for 1925 and 1926 are unavailable and a lot are missing in the 1920s.

Jun. 2, 1927 SP, Oct. 22, 1927, Nov. 28 1927 SP, Jan. 24, 1928 SP, May 31, 1928 SP, Oct. 31, 1928, SP, Nov. 28, 1929, Dec. 31, 1929 SP

Jan. 15, 1930 SP, Feb. 6, 1930(see illustration), Feb. 8, 1930 SP, Mar. 24, 1930, Apr. 19, 1930, Apr, 23, 1930, Oct. 21, 1930 SP, Nov. 24, 1930 SP

Mar. 3, 1931 SP, Mar. 17, 1931, Apr. 21, 1931 SP, Nov. 17, 1931, Nov. 30, 1931 SP

Feb. 18, 1932 SP, May 31, 1932 SP, Nov. 22, 1932, Dec. 2, Dec. 5, Dec. 6, 1932( see illustration), Dec. 13, 1932 SP


Jan. 17, 1933, Apr. 25, 1933, May 20, 1933, May 23, 1933,  Oct. 17, 1933, Dec. 12, 1933 SP, Dec. 19, 1933 SP

Jan. 23, 1934 SP, Feb 20, 1934, Mar. 20, 1934, Apr. 17, 1934, May 12, 1934, May 14, 1934 SP, Oct 16, 1934 SP












































Jan. 22, 1935 SP, Feb 13, 1935, Feb. 15(see illustration), Feb. 18, Feb. 19, 1935, Mar. 19, 1935 SP, Apr. 16, 1935 SP, May 4, 1935, May 17, 1935,  Oct. 22, 1935, SP, Nov. 16, 1935, Dec. 6, 1935, Dec. 10, Dec. 14, 1935, Dec. 16, 1935 SP,



Apr. 2, 1936, Apr. 9 & Apr. 18, 1936 SP, May 20, May 23, 1936, Oct. 21, 1936, Dec. 15, 1936 SP

Jan. 19, 1937 SP, Feb. 16, 1937, Mar. 17 & 18, 1937, May 18, 1937, Dec. 10, 1937 SP, Sep. 21, 1937, Oct. 19, 1937,SP


Feb. 23, 1938,  Mar. 30, 1938, Apr. 28, 1938, May 3, 1938 SP, Nov. 1 & Nov. 3, Nov. 23, 1938, Dec.1 & 9, 1938 SP

May 16, 1939, Sep. 19, 1939, Oct. 17, 1939, Nov. 21, 1939 SP, Dec. 4, 1939, Dec. 9, 15 & 21, 1939

Jan. 16, 1940, May 3 & 7, 1940, Dec. 9, 1940. SP See also historical articles noted above.

Feb. 18, 1941, Apr. 22, 1941, Apr. 30, 1941, Nov. 18, 1941, SP

Apr. 21, 1942, SP, Jan. 19, 1943 SP, Apr. 3, 1945, Nov. 27, 1945, Jun 20, 1946 SP


The Saskatoon Craft Guild 1942post 1951.  This is a club comprised of craftspeople who showed their own work. Initially, the club was devoted to making petit point embroideries, taught by instructor Mrs. T. H. Johnson who lived in Saskatoon in the early 1940s. Later the club began meeting at the Saskatoon Technical School and the range of crafts broadened to include pottery and other pursuits.  I found these reports about this club, in addition to the short ones illustrated below :  May 15, 1942 SP, May 22, 1942, May 13, 1943, May 18, 1944, May 11, 1945, May 19, 1945, May 11, 1946, Oct. 2, 1946, May 6, 1948 SP, May 11, 1949, SP,  May 9, 1950 SP is a photo story, May 9, 1951 SP.

List of presidents compiled from reading newspaper articles.

1942 – Mrs. W.G. Brigman                     1945 Mrs. Bouskill president Craft Guild

1943 – Mrs. Roy Ruemper

1944 – Mrs. Charles Blake

1945 – Mrs. W.H. Bouskill

1946 – Mrs. J.G. Wilkinson

1947 – Mrs. Vern Welker

1948 – Mrs. C. Kargut

1949- Mrs. R. Pepper

1950 – Miss Lenore Jantz

1951- Mrs. D.H. Fast







1949 Craft guild display




The Ukrainian Women’s Association of Saskatoon 1934-present


With a very large presence in the prairie provinces by 1920, people of Ukrainian ethnicity began forming music and arts associations early on.  The Saskatoon Ukrainian Women’s Association seems to have come into being in the 1930s, if you judge by the newspaper reports. By 1938 they were already announcing that they were collecting items for a future museum.  The Saskatoon Association was affiliated with the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada, who in turn was affiliated with local and national Councils of Women.  Begun as a social club, this group was not an arts organization per se but they seem to have decided that their handicraft committee could represent the arts of their cultural background more fully than the Saskatoon Arts and Crafts Society whose prime focus was marketing.  I noticed a number of articles on their activities so I have included them in this discussion because their activities led to the formation of the Ukrainian Museum of Canada in Saskatoon.

1941 Ukr. Women's Assoc. show & sale

What little material the Saskatoon Arts and Crafts Society must have collected for the Historical Museum at the University of Saskatchewan was likely destroyed when that museum had a fire in the late 1940s. It is a very good thing that someone else was also doing the collecting.

Mar. 17, 1934 SP, Jul 5 & 6, 1935, Jun 21, 1937, Jul 16, 1937, Dec 15, 1937, Dec  10 & 19, 1938, Dec 9 & 18, 1939, Sep 17, 1940, Dec. 14, 1940, Feb 18, 1941, Dec 22, 1941, Dec. 21, 1942, Mar 13, 1945, I can’t find any announcements of craft displays during most of the war years and after. Mar. 5, 1949 SP.

???????????????????????????????1940 Burianyk Ukrainian Women's Assoc2


The Ukrainian Women’s Association’s museum collection was held by the community in the Mohoyla Institute for many years before a purpose built museum was erected in 1979.  Mrs. Rose Dragan, active since the Association’s early days, was an instrumental figure in pushing the creation of a physical space for the collection forward.  She was a weaver and also wrote books on Ukrainian handicraft. She was honoured for her efforts. Rose Dragan was also a member of the Saskatoon Arts& Crafts Society.

The Saskatchewan Council for Archives and Archivists has produced an exhibit of Ukrainian arts and crafts which can be viewed online.



German Canadian Association 1934

Like the Ukrainian Association, the German Canadian Association was an ethnic social club but in early July, 1934 there was some coverage of an arts and crafts show which they arranged in Saskatoon at Eaton’s Department Store. Jun 29, 1934, Jul 3, 1934, Jul 6, 1934, SP Jul 6, 1934 LP

Saskatoon has a German Canadian social club to this day called the Concordia Club.  Mention is made of this club in this poster for German Canadian day which appeared in the July 4, 1936 edition of the Star-Phoenix. The cutline says that the German Canadian Reunion, as it was called, had been in existence for 7 years, meaning that this club was probably formed in 1929.

1936 German Day poster


The German ethnic group had a difficult time in Saskatchewan from World War I onwards and the activities of their social and cultural organizations may have been deliberately omitted from the news owing to the suspicions and hatreds developed during the two world wars about enemy cultures. People of German extraction were often subjected to internment during the wars if their activities were deemed ‘suspicious.’


In 2009 the original 1957 Concordia Club building burned to the ground and many artifacts and documents from the early days of the association were lost according to pp.44-47 of above magazine article. But a new Concordia Club has since risen from the ashes.



Early Regina craft organizations included the Regina Handicraft Guild, est. 1908.  See my post under The Craftsmen Ltd. and the WAA Fine and Applied Arts committee or Guild, 1930-1945. See the discussion about the Women’s Art Association of Saskatchewan in a separate post.

Other independent craft organizations in Regina were the following:

Regina Arts & Crafts Society 1937-1950

This society seems to have been an outgrowth of the Saskatchewan Women’s Art Association Fine and Applied Arts Guild, which was formed in the early 1930s. The guild, a committee of the WAA, was primarily interested in crafts and continued to operate alongside, but separately, from the Regina Arts & Crafts Society, although some members belonged to both groups.  I base my assumption on the origin of this group from the fact that many of the new Arts& Crafts executive members were formerly on that WAA committee.  The Regina Arts & Crafts Society was affiliated with the Canadian Handicraft Guild, unlike the Women’s Art Association’s Fine and Applied Arts Guild. (This terminology is confusing but I am basing this distinction on one made in Cheryl Meszaros, Visibility and Representation: Saskatchewan Art Organizations prior to 1945, Queen’s University Master of Arts Thesis, 1990, p. 63).  The Society held membership teas in the fall, usually October, had demonstrations, classes and lectures throughout the winter and held a large craft show and sale every spring, usually March or April.  They also helped to host incoming shows, did some exhibiting at the annual fairs and sent work out to shows sponsored by the Canadian Handicraft Guild.

The association, unlike its Saskatoon counterpart, was composed primarily of craftspeople and the range of crafts on display was dictated by their interests.  Shows included everything from needlework and fibre arts, leather tooling, woodcarving and china painting to oil paintings.  The crafts they produced were reflective of their urban WASP membership and did not represent the multiplicity of ethnicities then living in Regina and the surrounding countryside.  Although they made items for sale, they were primarily a club concerned with companionship and learning and exposing the public to the work of contemporary artisans in Regina. The WAA FAAG, on the other hand, initially modelled themselves on the Saskatoon Arts and Craft Society in the sense that they showed the work of a variety of ethnic groups in their early exhibitions, performing educative work by doing so.  However, neither of the Regina groups managed craft workers in the way the Saskatoon organization did because artisans were running these organizations.




Dec. 7 & Dec. 8, 1937 LP, Dec 11, 1937,  Jan 13, 1938 LP, Mar. 10,  28 & 29 & 30,1938 LP, Oct. 1, 1938 LP

Feb 9, 1939 LP, Mar 29 & 30, 1939 LP

Oct 11, 1940 LP, Dec. 14, 1940 LP

Feb. 15, 1941, Apr 2 & 3, 1941 (two articles on each page),

Mar 16, 1942, Apr 10, 1942,  May 9, 1942 LP

Apr 24, 1943 (two articles on opposite pages)

Apr 22, 1944 LP



Apr 24, 1945 , Oct 3 & 6, 1945 LP, Nov. 10, 1945, Dec 15 1945, LP

Jan 12, 1946, Apr 26, 1946, May 16, 1946 LP

Feb 17, 1947 LP, Apr 15 & Apr 25, 1947 LP

Jan 20, 1948, Apr 10, 1948, Apr 23, 1948, May 13, 1948, Oct 2 & Oct 7, 1948 LP

Oct. 1, 1949, Apr 22, 1950 LP I couldn’t find many reports from the late 1940s, although it is clear from the 1950 article that the club was still intact.

Regina Arts & Crafts Society Presidents

1937/38 – Miss E. Don Cathro

1938/39 – Mrs. J. C. Black

1939/40 -Mrs. Stewart Adrain

1940/41 –Mrs. Stewart Adrain

1941/42 – Mrs. Stewart Adrain

1942/43 – Mrs. J.D. Rowand

1943/44 – Mrs. W. G. Currie

1944/45 – Mrs. N.C. Elborne

1945/46 – Mrs. Harold F. Thomson

1946/47 – Mrs. Harold F. Thomson

1947/48 – Mrs. R. B. Van Iderstine

1948/49 – Mrs. R. B. Van Iderstine

1949/50 – Mrs. G.B. Munro


The Regina Handicraft Centre 1940-1945, possibly longer

This was a civically sponsored institution which provided a space for handicrafts to be taught to children.  It received a lot of press in these years but I didn’t notice much afterward.  Sometimes there were shows and sales offered at Handicraft House, which eventually found a home  on Hamilton street after moving around a bit in the earlier years.

Dec. 13, 1940, Nov 4, 1941, Nov 8, 1941, Nov. 24, 1941, Apr. 26, 1943, Apr 30, 1943 (scroll left), Aug 24, 1945

©Lisa G. Henderson

Saskatoon Art Appreciation Club 1934-1949 and LCW Arts & Letters Committee 1931-?

The Saskatoon Art Appreciation Society 1934 – 1949

In the fall of 1934 the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix announced that a new women’s group had been formed for the purpose of studying art appreciation. One could assume that some of the early members were former members of the first Saskatoon Art Association which had folded in the spring of 1932. This group was initially headed by an artist, Mrs. H. G. (Jessie) Phillips. She was the only member artist who received a show sponsored by the group.  Their primary interest was studying art but they also encouraged young artists by establishing a scholarship fund which assisted one young artist per year to attend the Emma Lake Art Camp, which began in 1936.

Their existence indicates that there was still a hunger in Saskatoon for information on art, something that had previously been available through the Saskatoon Art Association and that was not to be available to the public again on a regular basis until 1939 and later when the University of Saskatchewan had Gordon Snelgrove, art historian, give public lectures in Saskatoon.  The Saskatoon Art Appreciation Society had regular meetings featuring lectures and demonstrations until at least 1944 when the Saskatoon Art Centre opened.

Because this was a woman’s club, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix reported on their doings in the women’s page. Had they been a mixed club, their activities would have been more obscure since the newspaper appeared to have little to no interest in art during the 1930s and only reported on shows intermittently.  The articles I found on the few exhibitions the Art Appreciation Society sponsored indicates that they may have held a display or exhibition every spring at the end of their regular winter study meetings. Those meetings were typically held at the YWCA.

Saskatoon YWCA in 1912


The online Google News Archive does not contain the months of November and December, 1934 from the Star Phoenix but I have copies of articles on the club from November as follows:



































Activity reports for the club continue on Jan. 10 and Jan. 24, 1935.  And in February there were lectures Feb. 2 and Feb. 28. A report of another meeting, Mar. 28, 1935, announced that they would have a show of members’ handiwork in April.  A report on Apr. 2 noted a talk on textiles given by Professor Willmott.

On April 12-13, 1935 the Art Appreciation Society sponsored an exhibition of curios, handicraft and modern art at the Spanish Room of the Hudson’s Bay Co. store.  The exhibition was officially opened by Aldis Cameron, indicating that some members of the club were probably former members of the Saskatoon Art Club. A list of contributors to the very successful exhibition is listed in the newspaper. Apr. 13 & Apr. 15, 1935.  There is a report of two talks on Apr. 25 and the season ended with elections for the new season May 11, 1935.


Plans for the new season were announced Sep. 27, 1935. A talk on the Bayeux tapestry embroidery was enjoyed and reported on Oct. 11, 1935

On Dec. 3, it was announced that the club had been studying the history of art in the autumn months.  Dec. 17, 1935 the Club held a social evening.

I found reports of their meetings, Feb. 3, 1936 and Apr. 11, 1936.

On May 1, 1936 the group held a one day tea and display of art and handicraft at the YWCA.  A list of contributors to the show appears in the newspaper May 2. On May 14 the results of their annual election of officers was announced.


On Sep. 11, 1936 it was announced that the club was starting up their program.  I only found one report for the fall season on Dec. 11, 1936. Their study of Russian art continued as reported  on Mar. 12, 1937 and on Feb. 12, 1937.

On Apr. 6, 1937 the Club sent out a call for paintings and on April 10, 1937 the Art Appreciation Society held a tea and needlework display in the Hudson’s Bay Store dining room which also featured other items, including painting.  A list of artists is included in the newspaper article on this show.  Apr. 12, 1937. They were fundraising for their art scholarship program.

The student chosen as the 1937 winner of the art scholarship was MacGregor Hone.  He was given $60.00 to attend the Emma Lake Summer School of Art in summer, 1937. May 18, 1937


There were only a couple of mentions of the Art Appreciation Club’s activities in the fall of 1937, Nov. 23 and Dec. 11,.

In early April, 1938  a tea sponsored by the Saskatoon Art Appreciation Group was held in the home of Mrs. Jessie Phillips who displayed her landscape paintings. Mar. 26.  Mar. 28. Talk on art appreciation from J.S. Wood reported on Apr. 14

The winner of the 1938 art scholarship was Olga Pitchko. Like Hone, she received money to attend a class with Gus Kenderdine at Emma Lake. Apr. 11, Apr. 30 (scroll down and to right slightly)

In the third week of May, 1938 the club sponsored a very novel display at the Hudson’s Bay Store.  They arranged two “model” homes, a Victorian era household and a modern one using borrowed and made materials to decorate the rooms of the two households . May 20, 1938


Nov. 12, and Nov. 24, 1938 there were reports on Asian subjects studied by the Art Appreciation Club. I was not able to trace the 1939 annual event although Mac Hone gave the Club a talk on Modern Art as reported on May 11. In the spring of 1939 Mrs. B.J. Tupman was elected president of the club.


The club announced their intention to study Canadian art in the year to come. Sep. 15, 1939. On Oct. 12, 1939 it was reported that Dr. Snelgrove of the University had given an address on art through the ages and  as reported on Nov. 9, Ernest Lindner gave a talk on the practical uses of art training.

On Apr. 11, 1940 the club heard a talk on the translation of beauty.  On May 1, 1940 the club held a one day tea at an exhibit at the Hudson’s Bay Store sponsored by the Saskatoon Art Association.

After 1940 I could find no other instances of organized displays by the Art Appreciation group although the club continued to meet for lectures on a variety of subjects. Few meetings were reported on during the war years but I did find the following: Jan. 10, 1941,  Jan. 18, 1943,  Nov. 9, 1944. There is a report of their election of officers in 1949 and it appears that the Art Appreciation Group carried on during the period of the Saskatoon Art Centre, possibly as a kind of women’s auxiliary.

Saskatoon Local Council of Women – Arts & Letters Committee (1931-?)

When the Saskatooon Local Council of Women was initially formed in 1921 there had been an Arts and Letters committee but it had transformed into the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society by 1924. A new Arts and Letters Committee emerged in the fall of 1931. Unlike its Regina counterpart, It followed the directive of the National Council of Women in being primarily a study group who met to hear lectures on arts and literature. But it is interesting to see a couple of reports on their annual doings in the newspaper because they often mention activities or interests in the visual arts in Saskatoon which were not reported on by the newspaper. Most other annual reports were shortened to be included in an article on all the LCW committee reports but in 1932 and 1934 the full reports of the arts and letters committee were published.

Some reports of the Committee’s activities from the 1930s are: Jan. 19, 1933Apr. 29, 1933, Feb. 22, 1935, May 3, 1937,  There are probably more but I didn’t run across them.

From 1931 to 1939 Mrs. A.G. Irving was the convener of the committee, later Mrs. R. Perriam (1939/40), Mrs. J.B. Mawdsley (1940/41). Mrs. Mawdsley was the wife of a university professor but she was also the daughter of well-known Canadian portrait painter Ernest Fosberry.  Feb. 8, 1934.

Mrs. R. G. Perriam reported to the LCW at the annual meeting (Jan.27, 1940) that other clubs in the city were performing the study activities that the Arts & Letters Club were and that the committee itself was fairly inactive.

There should be records in the Archives for the Saskatoon Local Council of Women Arts and Letters Committee, which may give a fuller picture of this group’s activities.

A combination of free public art lectures offered by the University of Saskatchewan’s art department and increasing activity by the Saskatoon Art Association probably made these organizations less active after 1940, as did wartime.

Along with the Saskatoon Arts & Crafts Society, the Saskatoon Art Appreciation Society and the Local Council of Women’s Arts & Letters Committee were women’s organizations and they operated alongside other artist-run organizations like the Saskatoon Art Association which welcomed both women and men into their membership.

©Lisa G. Henderson

Women’s Art Association (SASK) activities and exhibitions list

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.

???????????????????????????????The WAA was organized in May of 1929 with the following people in executive roles:

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—————————————————————————————————————–

Some reports of the WAA study groups and business appear in 1930.  Apr. 5, Morning Leader, Jun 12, Oct.9,  Dec. 2, Dec. 8 Leader-Post

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.7Apr. 11Apr. 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

June 1930, WAA holds elaborate week long  exhibit of handicraft and home industries at Regina City Hall. May 8, May 23, May 30, May 31, Jun 3, Jun 4, Jun 6, Jun 7, Jun 9 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

Oct. 1930, Second annual WAA exhibit of Saskatchewan artists. Sep.6, Sep.29, Oct.2, Oct. 3, Oct.4 Leader Post and Sep. 12, Sep. 26, Oct. 2 SSP—————————————————–

1931 – Some business reports Jan. 10, Jan. 13, Jan. 30 and a group photo of the members of the Womens Art Association of Saskatchewan appears in January in the Leader-Post.

1931 WAA photo spread & history


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

First week of October, 1932.  Third annual WAA exhibition of Saskatchewan artists at City Hall, see attached chart. Oct. 3 (scroll right), Oct. 5, Oct. 6 (scroll right), Oct. 8,

Dec. 5-9, 1932, WAA members exhibition at WAA club rooms, 515 Broder St. Building. Dec. 5Dec. 7, Dec. 8, Dec. 8b ——————————————————————————–

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. ——————————————————————————————————————–

1934 – Published business reports Apr. 7, Apr. 12, Apr. 28, May 4May 12, May 29, Jun 1,  Jun 11,  Jun 26, Nov. 20

Apr. 14, 1934 – Leader Post published a report on a WAA tea which featured a ceramic display and weaving demonstration at the home of Mrs. Henry Black. Apr. 7, Apr. 11,

May 3-6, 1934 – WAA holds a craft exhibition at the Glasgow House. May 4, May 5a, May 5b, May 7

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  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——————————

1935 – Business reports published Feb. 5, May 9

Mar. 1-2, 1935. WAA members sponsor a showing of antique crafts and new work at club rooms Feb.7, Feb. 28, Mar.2

May, 28, 1935 & May 29, 1935 RLP – Annual provincial meeting of WAA

First week of October, 1935, WAA Annual Provincial Artists exhibition in the Mitchell Block, see attached chart Oct.1, Oct. 2, Oct. 4, Oct.5

Mitchell building Regina WAA club rooms Mitchell Building in Regina, Contemporary photograph

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. —————————————

1936 – Business reports Jan. 20, Jan. 22 SSP, May 16, Oct.3

May 6, 1936, WAA sponsored Exhibition of handicraft held at Hotel Saskatchewan

Oct. 7, 1936, Annual Saskatchewan Artists exhibition at the Regina Art Club rooms at the Mitchell Bldg., see attached chart Oct. 3, Oct. 5, Oct. 6, Oct. 8, Oct.9  ———————-

1937Apr.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. ———————————————————————————–

1938Nov. 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  ———————————————————————————————————————–

Mid April 1940 – Handicraft display at Saskatchewan Hotel. Moose Jaw WAA contributes to the exhibit. Apr. 18a, Apr. 18b

Dec. 14-15, 1940 WAA FAAG holds an exhibition of handicraft and paintings at Club Rooms, Trading Company Building. Dec. 12, Dec. 14  ————————————————————

Regina Trading Co. building 1921 Wrigley Directory drawing of Trading Company, Regina. The WAA had club rooms here in the 1930s

1941 – Business reports published Apr.28, May 13

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.

May1-2, 1941 – Non juried exhibition of member paintings and display of handpainted china by Miss Edith Vandermade sponsored by above at the WAA club rooms in the Trading Co. Building. May 1, May 2

1941? – WAA Sask sends a handicraft exhibition to Toronto at the request of the Canadian Handicraft Guild for CNE, presumably ———————————————————————-

1942 – Business reports May 18, Apr. 13

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 ————————————————————————————————————

April 1943 – WAA and FCA Regina Branch host an exhibition of 8 Lawren Harris paintings at Regina College. Feb. 11, Mar. 22, Mar.29, Apr.1

May 1943 – WAA club members hold a display of their work at 1847 Scarth St. May 18, May 19

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  ——————————————————————————

End of April, 1944, WAA handicraft exhibition, first in 4 years, at Hotel Saskatchewan. Collection of Ukrainian needlework, various personal collections and work of members. Apr. 20, Apr. 27, Apr. 28

May 25, 1944 – Fine and Applied Art Guild has a party. —————————————-

??????????????????????????????? Hotel Saskatchewan, Regina, opened in 1927.

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

May, 1945. Plans for year, May 7, and honouring of Mrs. Barber, May 19

June, 1945 Display plans  Jun. 13 (scroll left).  Regina Beach WAA holds meeting. Jun 28 (scroll to left)

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, 1947WAA 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.

WAA Presidents

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 –


Crafts division

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.

Exhibition chart1

Exhibition chart2

Exhibition chart3

Exhibition chart4

Exhibition chart5

Exhibition chart6

© Lisa G. Henderson