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Important Moments in Canadian Art History

Compiled by Dr. Robert J. Belton

1800 to 1867

c. 1800
Pennsylvania Germans settling in Waterloo County in southwestern Ontario begin to produce regional variations of traditional Fraktur illuminations.

1800-04
Robe and Hall's Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral, Québec is one of the earliest examples of a simplified Palladian architectural vocabulary.

1800-1900
The ritualistic visual cultures of the Thule Inuit in the Arctic and the Northwest Coast Indians in British Columbia are gradually eroded by souvenir exchanges with the white man.

1807
George Heriot's Travels Through the Canadas appears. An M. Smith opens an early art school in Halifax.

1808
Robert Field arrives in Halifax. The Montagnais natives of Québec are among the first to replace traditional skins -- increasingly rare because of the decimation of moose and caribou herds -- with European textiles in clothing.

1812
The first locally minted coins with Canadian designs begin to appear in Upper Canada, with a halfpenny commemorating Sir Isaac Brock.

1815
Charles Torbett's intaglio press in Halifax becomes popular enough to displace that of the Neilsons (1792).

1817
In Québec, Joseph Légaré buys many of the European works brought to Canada by the abbé L.-J. Desjardins the previous year.

1818-19
A Montréal newspaper, L'Abeille canadienne, is possibly the first Canadian publication to include commentaries on visual art.

1820s
The Red River Métis are so identified with their floral decorative style that the western Sioux tribes call them "Flower Beadwork People." The Haida turn to European themes in their argillite carvings. Mary Love is one of the earliest Canadian-born artists to study abroad.

1821-6
Swiss-born Peter Rindisbacher paints detailed watercolours of local life in the Red River Settlement.

1823-29
Irish architect James O'Donnell introduces the Gothic Revival to Canada in his designs for Notre-Dame, Montréal.

1824
Lithography is apparently available in Québec, but it was not successful until Tazewell (1831) and Scobie (1843). Other reproductive techniques begin to spell the doom of wood sculpture, for plaster statuary becomes increasingly popular when an Italian named Donati makes plaster copies of works by François Baillargé.

1827
Military officers and civilians with interests in the liberal arts meet in Québec to found the Society for the Encouragement of Art and Science in Canada.

1828
A stone monument is erected in Québec to commemorate Montcalm and Wolfe. The first coherent public decor -- i.e., designed specifically for a given architectural setting -- in begun in the interior of Notre-Dame, Montréal. The Society for the Encouragement of Science and Art gives Joseph Légaré the title of Canada's first history painter. William Harris Jones begins to teach painting and drawing at Dalhousie College.

1829
The Society for the Encouragement of Art and Science in Canada merges with the Literary and Historical Society of Québec. Elza Thrasher is recorded as an art teacher in Charlottetown.

1830s
A vernacular building technique based on balloon framing, the Red River Frame becomes an expedient system in lower Fort Garry. The Ojibwa Indians north of Lake Huron begin to practice the Calumet Dance, accompanying it with their own ritual artifacts. Having cultivated a taste for European silver as early as 1740, native groups find the supply dwindle with the deterioration of the fur trade. A few silversmiths in Montréal continue to produce items for the native market, and a few tribes south of the Great Lakes produce their own, but among Canadian tribes only the Ottawa take up silversmithy.

1830
Canada's first art exhibition is held in a garrison in Halifax. For her two views of New Brunswick, Mary Love is apparently the first artist in North America to draw directly onto a lithograph stone.

1831
Samuel Tazewell introduces lithography without much success in Kingston. Thomas Barnett opens the first autonomous museum in Canada, a commercial collection of curiosities in Niagara falls. James Cooper's St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Niagara-on- the-Lake is one of the earliest examples of Neoclassical building.

1832
The Halifax Mechanics Institute, dedicated to the self-education of the working class, fosters some local interest in art.

1833
Maria Morris Miller opens a drawing academy in Halifax.

1834
The Society of Artists and Amateurs of Toronto is founded and holds a single exhibition. The Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste uses the maple leaf and an emblem.

1835
In Saint John, Mary Hall issues her Views of British America, a set of lithographs paid for by subscription.

1836
John George Howard builds Colborne Lodge in High Park, Toronto, an early example of the fashionable Picturesque style.

1836-37
Anna Jameson travels in Upper Canada.

1838
Légaré shows his collection in Québec.

1839
Newspapers in Halifax, Québec and Toronto announce the invention of the daguerrotype in Europe.

1840
The first photography studios are opened by Americans in Montréal and Québec. Capotes -- coats made from striped Hudson's Bay blankets -- begin to replace skin coats.

1841
Perhaps Canada's first female photographer, a Mrs. Fletcher opens a portrait studio in Montréal.

1842
Dr. Abraham Gesner opens a museum in Saint John, N.B. Coke Smyth's Sketches in the Canadas and N.P. Willis's Canadian Scenery from Drawings by W.H. Bartlett are both published in England. The Provincial Museum of New Brunswick opens in Saint John. The shop now known as the Roberts Gallery opens in Toronto.

1843
Hugh Scobie introduces lithography in Toronto, with greater success than Tazewell (1831).

1844
Andrew Morris designs allegories of Agriculture and Commerce for the legislative buildings in Montréal.

1846
Toronto holds the first Upper Canada Provincial Exhibition.

1846-48
Paul Kane travels as far west as Fort Vancouver, producing the many images that illustrate his later Wanderings...(1859), quite likely with the collaboration of his artist-wife Harriet Clench. Other artists and photographers will follow his lead into the landscape (F.G. Claudet, 1859; Hind, 1862; Gentile, 1864; Baltzly, 1871; Verner, 1872; etc.).

1846-53
British architects Frank Wills and William Butterfield design Christ Church Cathedral for Fredericton, N.B., in a rationalizing variant of the Gothic revival style associated with the Ecclesiologists.

1847
The Toronto Society of Arts and the Montréal Society of Arts are founded independently. Like many early organizations, these are intended principally as a means of generating commissions for artists.

1848
In Toronto, Kane holds one of the first public solo exhibitions.

1849
Cornelius Krieghoff settles in Québec. J.B. Walker publishes Canada's first satirical newspaper, Punch in Canada, in Montréal. True stoneware is produced in Canada for the first time at Brantford, Ontario, although the raw materials used were purchased in the U.S.

1850s
Prefabricated cast-iron storefronts are manufactured in the U.S. and used in Canada for the first time on the commercial buildings along Granville St. in Halifax. Among the Métis and Plains Ojibwa, traditional quillwork is phased out in favour of beadwork and embroidery.

1851
Sir Sandford Fleming revives the beaver emblem with his design for the first Canadian postage stamp. It is also the first such pictorial stamp in the world.

1852
The first formal academic museums are opened at Université Laval in Montréal and the Canadian Institute in Toronto. In Toronto, John Allanson publishes the Anglo-American Magazine and Canadian Journal with views of nearby cities reproduced as woodcuts (a technique introduced there in 1849). The Upper Canada Provincial Exhibition established a special category for painters.

1853
The Reverend G. C. Irving delivers a lecture on the principles of stereoscopy in Toronto.

1854
The Weslayan Academy in Sackville, N.B., introduces its first classes in art and music especially for women.

1855
T.C. Doane and E.J. Palmer receive honourable mentions for their daguerrotypes at the Paris Exposition. Two French sculptors bring plaster copies of academic sculpture to their short-lived ad hoc Académie des beaux-arts in Québec.

1856
In Montréal, William Notman opens the first of his many influential photography studios. The firm of Hopkins, Lawford and Nelson, begun designs for the Kingston Customs House and the Kingston Post Office in a style called Italianate.

1857
Egerton Ryerson opens his Canadian Educational Museum, filled with plaster casts and copies of European works of art, in the Toronto Normal School.

1858
In Toronto, Sir Sandford Fleming and Sir Collingwood Schreiber build a conservatory-type building along the lines of Sir Joseph Paxton's famous Crystal Palace. (It is moved to Exhibition Park in 1879.) Photographic Portfolio is published in Québec.

1859
Kane's Wanderings of an Artist Among the Indians of North America is published in England.

1859
One of Canada's earliest galleries, William Scott and Son., is founded in Toronto.

1859-76
Fuller and Jones build the Library of Parliament, Ottawa, in the High Victorian Gothic style.

1860
The Montréal Society of Arts is redeveloped into the Art Association of Montréal, but the majority of the early members are collectors interesting in displaying their possessions, rather than professional artists.

1862
Hannah Maynard establishes a photography studio in Victoria, producing some unprecedented, fanciful images.

1863
Beaux-arts appears briefly in Montréal.

1864
A short-lived Canadian Journal of Photography appears in Toronto.

1865
In Montréal, William Leggo patents Leggotype, a photoengraving process for image reproduction.

1866
The main portion of the Parliament Buildings is completed in Ottawa. Susanna Moodie pays her bills by selling small flower paintings.

Last reviewed shim12/19/2012 11:18:08 PM