Search for "Canadian artists"

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Carl Beam

​Carl Beam (Carl Edward Migwans), artist (born 24 May 1943 in West Bay, Manitoulin Island, ON [now M’Chigeeng First Nation]; died 30 July 2005 in M’Chigeeng First Nation). The first contemporary Indigenous artist whose work was acquired by the National Gallery of Canada, Beam was one of Canada’s most ground-breaking Indigenous artists. (See also Contemporary Indigenous Art in Canada.)


Paying Tribute to Painter Maud Lewis

This article was originally published in Maclean's magazine on 14 April 1997.

Maud Lewis lived a life that few would envy. Born in rural Nova Scotia in 1903, Lewis suffered from a series of birth defects that left her fingers painfully deformed, her shoulders hunched and her chin pressed into her chest. She spent most of her adult life as a virtual recluse in a cramped one-room house that had no running water or electricity. For more than three decades, the diminutive Lewis eked out a living rendering colorful oil paintings on the most primitive of surfaces — including particleboard, cardboard and wallpaper — which she sold for a few dollars each. Her miserly husband, Everett, often squirrelled away her slim profits, hiding the cash under the floorboards or in jars buried in the garden. At the age of 67, Lewis — who had suffered lung damage due to constant exposure to paint fumes and wood smoke — contracted pneumonia and died in hospital. She was buried in a child's coffin and laid to rest in a pauper's grave.


Mary Vaux Walcott

Mary Morris Vaux Walcott, botanical artist, photographer, glaciologist, mountaineer (born 31 July 1860 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; died 22 August 1940 in Saint Andrews, NB). For over 40 years, Vaux Walcott spent nearly every summer in the Canadian Rockies, where she and her brothers conducted some of the first studies of glaciers in Canada. She also became the first woman in Canada to summit a peak over 3,000 m. An avid and accomplished botanical artist, Vaux Walcott’s crowning achievement was the publication of 400 of her watercolours in the five-volume North American Wild Flowers.


Group of Seven

The Group of Seven, also known as the Algonquin School, was a school of landscape painters. It was founded in 1920 as an organization of self-proclaimed modern artists and disbanded in 1933. The group presented the dense, northern boreal forest of the Canadian Shield as a transcendent, spiritual force. Their depictions of Canada’s rugged wind-swept forest panoramas were eventually equated with a romanticized notion of Canadian strength and independence. Their works were noted for their bright colours, tactile paint handling, and simple yet dynamic forms. In addition to Tom ThomsonDavid Milne and Emily Carr, the Group of Seven were the most important Canadian artists of the early 20th century. Their influence is seen in artists as diverse as abstract painter Jack Bush, the Painters Eleven, and Scottish painter Peter Doig.

Memory Project

David Bowen (Primary Source)

Delivering dispatches between units was a dangerous and often thankless job. David Bowen navigated the difficult terrain and remained aware of the risks he took each day. During the Korean War he began sketching and producing watercolour images of daily life. Today he is an accomplished artist.

Content warning: This article contains content which some may find offensive or disturbing.

Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.


Gordon A. Smith

Gordon Appelbe Smith, CM, OBC, painter, printmaker, teacher, philanthropist (born 18 June 1919 in East Brighton, England; died 18 January 2020 in West Vancouver, BC). Gordon Smith was a key figure in Vancouver’s art scene during the latter half of the 20th century. He was best known for his monumental, modernist abstractions of the West Coast landscape, and for his long and influential career as a teacher and philanthropist. He was made a Member of the Order of Canada for making “a major contribution to the development of the fine arts in Canada.” He also received the Order of British Columbia, the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts, and the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts.