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Important Moments in Canadian Art History

Compiled by Dr. Robert J. Belton

1868 to 1918

A short-lived Society of Canadian Artists is formed in Montréal.

The Nova Scotia Museum is opened in Halifax. Agnes Dunbar Chamberlain illustrates Catherine Parr Trail's Canadian Wildflowers. The coats of arms of New Brunswick, Ontario, and Québec are officially granted (later revised in 1984, 1909, and 1939 respectively). Nova Scotia's original coat of arms (1626) is replaced.

Editorial cartoons start to appear in the sister publications l'Opinion publique and Canadian Illustrated News. Some are reproduced in Leggotype (1865).

The gradual spread of mail-order catalogues initiates a decline in locally-produced pottery and crafts. Western native craftspeople, devastated by the extermination of bison, an economic mainstay, replace some traditional components in their artifacts with mass-produced materials (copper kettles, steel hatchets, etc.).

Joseph Chabert founds the Institut nationale in Montréal to offer instruction in arts and crafts. Frances Anne Hopkins shows sixteen works at the Art Association of Montréal, the largest showing of one woman's work to date.

The first issue of the Canadian Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science and Art appears in Toronto.

Henry Langley's Toronto Post Office is one of the earliest examples of Second Empire style in Canadian building.

Montréal's Society of Canadian Artists holds its last exhibition, even as a group of seven Toronto painters forms the Ontario Society of Artists. Perhaps the longest continously active such organization in Canada, the OSA adopts a more professional, artist-oriented attitude than that of the organizations of a generation or two earlier. However, the organization makes a point of excluding women. Canadian Monthly (later Canadian Magazine) begins its run (to 1939). Canadian Antiquarian and Numismatic Journal begins its run in Montréal (to 1933).

John Fraser organizes the first exhibition of the Ontario Society of Artists in space owned by the Toronto Notman studio. J.W. Bengough begins publishing Grip, accompanying his own articles with editorial cartoons. Henri Julien, Canada's first native-born cartoonist of note, starts submitting editorial cartoons to l'Opinion publique. Frederick Brigden Sr. opens the Toronto Engraving Company. The Governor General Awards, designed to recognize excellence in academic achievement, are the first such medallions to be produced on a regular basis.

Russian Mennonites bring their traditional visual culture to Manitoba.

The Ontario Society of Artists offers sporadic courses of instruction to both men and women. These eventually coalesce in the Ontario College of Art in 1911.

Belford's Monthly Magazine of literature and art first appears in Toronto.

The first business block with elevator service (invented 1856), the five-story Equity Chambers is erected in Toronto.

The Art Association of Montréal begins annual exhibitions in the manner of the academic Parisian salons. It also begins to offer some courses of instruction.

The Massey-Harris factories in Toronto show the growing influence of vernacular industrial building.

Princess Louise and the marquis of Lorne create the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in Ottawa. Painter Lucius O'Brien becomes the first president. Artists donated a work as one of the conditions of membership, and the resulting collection was the beginning of the The National Gallery of Canada. The Arion, a journal of art, music, literature and drama, appears monthly in Toronto for one year.

Elizabeth Armstrong Forbes begins etching at Pont-Aven, France.

George Munroe Grant's Picturesque Canada appears, with illustrations by art director Lucius O'Brien and other important artists of the day.

Robert Harris is commissioned to paint the Fathers of Confederation. Napoléon Bourassa becomes the first celebrated muralist with the decorations of his Notre-Dame-de- Lourdes.

The Québec Amateur Photographers' Association is formed. Monde illustré first appears in Montréal. The Associated Artists' School of Art and Design operates in Toronto.

William Cruikshank and others form the short-lived Association of Canadian Etchers. Captain James Peters implicitly opens the era of photojournaliam with pictures of the North West Rebellion.

The Toronto Art Students' League is formed, both as a school and as a meeting place for working artists until 1904. It is not to be confused with the famous New York Art Students' League (which does, however, have an impact on certain later Canadian artists, like Edmund Morris of the Canadian Art Club [1907]). The Boorne and May photography studio opens in Calgary (but closes within seven years). The Québec Amateur Photographers' Association disbands. The Montréal Amateur Photographic Club is formed. The Royal British Columbia Museum opens. Zwicker's Gallery opens in Halifax.

The firm of Babb, Cook and Willard build Montréal's first skyscraper (eight stories), the New York Life Insurance Co. on the Place d'armes. Canadian Architect and Builder begins its run (to 1895). Saturday Night begins publication. The Québec Camera Club is formed. The first meeting of the Photographic Section of the Canadian Institute takes place in Toronto. Anna Leonowens organizes an exhibition in Halifax which eventually leads to the creation of the Victoria School of Art and Design. A Women's Art Club opens in Toronto.

William Van Horne becomes president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, distributing free passes to artists in exchange for promotional pictures of scenery visible from the trains. Boston based architect Bruce Price initiates the influential Château style with the Banff Springs Hotel designed for the CPR. The Toronto Amateur Photographic Association is organised (the same year that George Eastman starts to market the modern hand camera in the U.S.). Dominion Illustrated appears in Montréal.

The Ontario Association of Architects is founded. The first advertising agency to use graphic art on a regular basis is established in Montréal. Two American designers, James and James, use a structural steel skeleton in Canada for the first time in the old Board of Trade Building, Toronto. The Montréal Amateur Photographic Club disbands.

The Women's Art Club of Toronto develops into the Women's Art Association. The Women's Art Society opens in Montréal. Paul Peel's Venetian Bather is the first publicly exhibited nude in Toronto, and his well-known After the Bath wins a bronze medal at the Paris Salon. Louis-Philippe Hébert adds sculptural ornament with Canadian historical motifs to the facade of the Québec legislature. The first architectural professorship is created in the School of Practical Science in Toronto. The Province of Québec Association of Architects is founded (other such provincial organizations follow). The Ontario School of Art is reorganized as the Central Ontario School of Art and Design. The Montréal Camera Club is formed. E.J. Lennox begins his Romanesque revival with designs for the (Old) City Hall and the Ontario Legislature in Toronto. Canadian Queen: A Magazine of Fashion, Art, Literature, Etc. begins a two-year run in Toronto.

The Toronto Amateur Photographic Association is renamed the Toronto Camera Club and begins to hold exhibitions. Brigden's Toronto Litho Co. produces the first colour lithographs for an election campaign. (Paul Kane had done one as early as 1856, but Brigden systematized the process.) Marmaduke Matthews, a watercolourist and photographic retoucher, turns a small farm on the edge of Toronto into an early artists' co-op called Wychwood Park.

Members of the Toronto Art Students' League begin publication of annual calendars with original Canadian drawings (until 1904). The Photographic Section of the Hamilton Scientific Association is formed. The Winnipeg Camera Club is formed (only to be reformed in 1898 and/or 1902). The arts journal Arcadia appears for a year in Montréal. A Women's Art Club opens in London.

The Saint John Camera Club is formed. The Canadian Lantern Slide Exchange, emulating the American one founded in 1885, links photographers in Hamilton, Toronto, and Montréal. The Canadian Magazine of Politics, Science, Art and Literature and the Canadian Photographic Standard appear in Toronto.

Francis Mawson Rattenbury begins the B.C. Legislature Building in what he characterizes as a free classical style (completed 1912- 16).

The Owens Museum of Fine Arts in Sackville finds its first permanent headquarters. The Ottawa Camera Club is formed. Impressionist painter Laura Muntz Lyall is probably the first Canadian woman artist to be recognized in France with her participation in the exhibitions of the Société des artistes français.

The Robert Simpson Co. store opens in Toronto in 1894 but is destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1895 with a fireproofed frame of concrete-clad steel.

George W. Gouinlock's Temple Building in Toronto is one of the last tall office buildings with a cast iron frame. The Bulletin des recherches historiques begins publication. The Revue de l'art publishes a single issue in Montréal. The Toronto Camera Club debates the admission of women as members, finally agreeing to a practice taken for granted by all other Canadian Camera Clubs. The Crescent Camera Club competes with the Saint John Camera Club, but ceases activity in less than a year.

The first full architecture department is created at McGill University. One of the very few such organizations in Canada, the Council of the Guild of Sculptors is formed. In Montréal, motion pictures are shown for the first time in Canada. The Québec Camera Club disbands. Tarot, an illustrated magazine dedicated to the Arts and Crafts movement, fails after two issues. Our Monthly: A Magazine of Canadian Literature, Science and Art makes a brief appearance in Toronto. Mary Dignam arranges for sixteen women artists to hand-paint the Canadian State Dinner Service.

At his own expense, George Reid offers to paint murals -- designed but rejected for economic reasons -- for Toronto City Hall. Hannah Maynard becomes an official photographer for the Victoria Police Department. The Vancouver Camera Club is formed. The first Canadian motion pictures are James Freer's films of Prairie farmers, initiating several years of successful productions aimed at encouraging immigration.

The Toronto Guild of Civic Art is established. The Little Billee Sketch Club is formed.

The Montréal Sketching Club is formed. The Mahlstick Club is formed. Henry Birks distributes silver works in an expanding commercial network across Canada. Victoria's Sophie Pemberton is the first Canadian to receive the Prix Julian from Paris's Académie Julian for her portraiture.

The Art Museum of Toronto is incorporated. The first reinforced concrete building in Toronto is erected at 60 Front St. W. Samuel Maclure beguns a thirty year series of domestic buildings in the Picturesque Tudor style.

Predating the Canada Council by half a century, Josephine Dandurand's "Two Systems of Art" unsuccessfully proposes governmental funding of the arts.

The Winnipeg Art Society is formed. The Women's Art Association opens a shop in Montréal to sell craft articles largely inspired by international art nouveau. The first Canadian comic strip, Raoul Barré's "Pour un dîner de Noël," appears in Montréal's La Presse. Four members of the Toronto Art Students' League found Carlton Studios, an innovative advertising and publishing firm, in England. The Toronto Camera Club exhibition marks the advent of pictorialism in Canada. In Toronto, John Stanley Plaskett delivers a lecture on colour photography.

The Vancouver Photographic Society is formed and joins the American Lantern Slide Exchange. Hiawatha becomes the first dramatic short subject film produced in Canada. Neith: A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, Philosophy, Jurisprudence, Criticism, History, Reform, Economics first appears in St. John. Etincelle, a weekly journal with arts coverage, is as short-lived as its name.

The Ottawa Camera Club is reformed as the Photographic Art Club of Ottawa. Torontonian Sidney Carter is elected an Associate of Alfred Stieglitz's influential Photo-Secession in New York. C.W. Jefferys and others form the Graphic Arts Club.

In emulation of the British pictorialist group called the Linked Ring (founded 1892), Sidney Carter forms the Toronto Studio Club to foster interest in pictorialist photography. Vie artistique appears briefly in Montréal. Manitoba and Prince Edward Island are officially granted their coats of arms.

The Canadian Pacific Railway constructs Canada's largest railway viaduct over the Oldman River near Lethbridge.

The Montréal shop of the Women's Art Association receives a charter as the Canadian Handicrafts Guild. The first art book published in Canada is a study of Dutch landscape painting by Montréal collector E.B. Greenshields. British Columbia and Sasketchewan are officially granted their coats of arms (excluding their current supporters and crests [1987 and 1986 respectively]).Canadian Guild of Crafts of Québec is formed in Montréal.

Edmond Morris and some of the more influential artists of his generation -- Homer Watson, Horatio Walker, etc. -- form the Canadian Art Club in Toronto. The National Gallery of Canada finds its first permanent headquarters. Alberta is officially granted its coat of arms (excluding its current supporters and crest [1980]). North America's first luxury cinema, the Ouimetoscope of L. Ernest Ouimet, opens in Montréal. The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada is founded in Ottawa. The Brandon Art Club is formed in Manitoba.

The Arts and Letters Club is founded in Toronto. C.W. Jeffreys illustrates David Boyle's Uncle Jim's Canadian Nursery Rhymes. It would have been the country's first children's book illustrated in colour, but it was printed in England and never distributed here. The Toronto Camera Club begins annual exhibitions at the Toronto Industrial Exhibition. The Art Association of Montréal gives the first Jessie Dow award to Helen G. McNicoll.

William and Edward Maxwell build the Saskatchewan Legislature Building in what is sometimes described as a Beaux-arts variation on English Baroque style.

The provincial architectural associations merge to become the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. The British Columbia Society of Artists is formed. An exhibition of recent French art is held at the Art Association of Montréal. The Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Arts finds its first permanent headquarters. Laura Muntz Lyall is the first woman asked to exhibit with the Canadian Art Club.

The Medalta Pottery is established at Medicine Hat. The National Gallery of Canada pays a then-astronomical $10,000 for Horatio Walker's Oxen Drinking. Harold Mortimer-Lamb wins a plaque for a photograph submitted to the British Colonial Competition and is elected to the Royal Photographic Society of England. The Arts and Letters Club publishes Lamps sporadically until 1939.

Sir Henry Pellatt's High Gothic fantasy Casa Loma begins its troubled history in Toronto. The core members of the later Group of Seven meet at the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto. A journal entitled Art and Photography is published in Toronto. The Ontario College of Art is formed in premises near the Art Gallery of Toronto.

The Art Gallery of Hamilton is founded. Emily Carr shows canvases inspired by French expressionism (Fauvism) in British Columbia. The Arts Club of Montréal is formed. David K. Brown and Hugh Vallance begin the University of Sasketchewan buildings in the Beaux-arts style. American sculptor Frances Loring moves from the U.S. to Toronto. The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts finds its first permanent headquarters. The Winnipeg Art Gallery opens.

J.E.H.MacDonald and Lawren Harris are inspired by an exhibition of Scandinavian painting in Buffalo, N.Y. American sculptor Florence Wyle joins Loring in Toronto. Francis Sullivan's Banff Pavilion (demolished 1939) capitalizes on the Prairie School style initiated by Frank Lloyd Wright. Works of two Canadian artists, the well-known David Milne and the relatively obscure Arthur Crisp, appear in the influential (and infamous) Armory Show in New York. Canadian expatriate James Wilson Morrice encounters Henri Matisse (whom he had known from c. 1909) in Tangier. The Arts Club of Montréal holds its first annual show. The Toronto Camera Club associates itself with the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain. The rules preventing women members of the Royal Canadian Academy from attending business meetings and serving on the council are relaxed. The first Canadian feature film, Evangeline, is produced in Halifax.

For Lawren Harris and opthalmologist Dr. James MacCallum, Eden Smith designs the Studio Building in Toronto, which becomes the centre of Group of Seven activities. The facilities of the Art Museum of Toronto are made available to the Toronto Camera Club (perhaps marking the first institutional recognition of photography as an art form). The Kodak Canada Limited starts to publish Canadian Kodakery, directed at amateur photographers, but with precious little Canadian content. Ad-Viser is the first magazine in Toronto devoted to printing and advertising. The Architectural Institute of British Columbia opens in Vancouver. The Edmonton Art Association is founded. Emily Coonan receives the first National Gallery Travel Grant to study in Europe, but she is prevented from going for six years by the Great War and its aftermath.

Arthur Keillor produces many distinguished images for the War Poster Service.

The Association of Canadian Etchers, never a success, is succeeded by the Society of Canadian Painter-Etchers and Engravers. Lord Beaverbrook establishes the Canadian War Records Office, one of the mandates of which is to collect battle paintings and photographs. More than 80 international artists are so employed. William Ivor Castle is one of the first modern war photojournalists (although some of his images are fabrications). The Arts Club of Montréal holds an exhibition of recent French art. The Société des artistes du Québec is founded. The Art Gallery of Toronto finds its first permanent headquarters. Mary Hiester Reid becomes the first woman to serve on the executive council of the Ontario Society of Artists.

Tom Thomson drowns in Algonquin Park. The Ontario government opens a motion picture bureau.

The end of the war sees the beginning of a period of growth for commemorative monuments. Le Nigog, a journal of literature and art, begins a twelve-month run in Montréal. Terroir appears in Québec until 1940. Hutterites moving into the Prairie provinces bring a distinctive traditional visual culture.

Last reviewed shim12/19/2012 11:18:24 PM