From the 1967 book A History of Peel County: To Mark It's Centenary as a Separate County, 1867-1967
Used with permission of the Peel Art Gallery Museum & Archives
An art teacher who dreamed of one day owning his own art gallery, John Agg worked to make his dream come true by opening "The Country Gallery" in the village of Terra Cotta.
Mr. Agg, who has a new and essentially modern approach to painting, studied art in Toronto and became a commercial artist for two years. He could find no compatibility in the field of commercial art so he and his wife travelled to Comox, B.C., where John painted and his wife taught school.
Deciding there was more scope for them in Ontario, the Aggs returned to Toronto where John taught painting and drawing and directed a general arts course at the Ontario Ladies' College, Scarborough, for three years.
After spending a semi-educational summer in Europe, they discovered the old farm house in Terra Cotta with its grounds running down to the River Credit, and they knew it was exactly what they were looking for.
Their gallery opened modestly in September 1961 and it has been growing consistently ever since. In it the Aggs sell John's paintings and sculpture and his unique copper and enamel wall plaques side by side with Helen's ceramics, some made from the clay of the old Terra Cotta brickyard, and her modernistic jewellery.
They both exhibit their work in Toronto and throughout Ontario and perhaps Mr. Agg's best knownwork is his boldly designed and colourful mural of Viking ships at the Valhalla Inn on Highway 27. This was John's most adventurous creation and resulted in much acclaim for the young Peel - artist.
Merle Smith’s associate, Ruth Bagshaw, studied art at the Bournemouth School of Art on the south coast of England, the Central School of Arts and Crafts and St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields Art School, both in London.
After graduation, Ruth taught drawing at the Medway College of Art, Rochester, Kent, and the Woolwich Art School, London, and art therapy in a number of London hospitals.
In 1956, she came to Canada and taught for year in Kingston before coming to Toronto to work for the University Press.
While there, she met Merle Smith and for a time worked with him, later become an associate of his.
Ruth has illustrated a number of books in Nelson’s Reading series, several historical text books and has also provided illustrations for various books published by both Dent’s and Longman’s.
Sir. Frederick Banting, KBE, MRCS
When the Peel County Historical Society held an art show in the Stone School House near Cheltenham in 1962, the work of a twenty-year-old art student, Ziggy Blazjewicz, of Brampton, caused a small furor.
He hung six or seven vividly modernistic murals on the school dances and about the same number of exquisitely detailed drawings of the human body, musicians and mushrooms in the school room. They were all dramatic, memorable and though provoking.
In November, 1965, this same young man, who had wisely shortened his surname to Blazje, opened his first one-man show at the Blur Barn Gallery, Ottawa. It was revolutionary.
Ziggy Blazje was born in Siberia in 1942 of Polish parents. His family came to Canada in 1948 and settled in Brampton, where they still reside and where Ziggy, who now lives in Toronto, received his education.
Artist Blazje has adopted a completely individual approach to painting. He uses luminous paint together with the usual oils and tempera, so making his paintings visible and glowing even when the lights are turned out, and has thus produced art with its own source of light, providing the viewer with a structural outline of the work even in the dark. His use of various types of lighting, including ultra-violet bulbs, reveal hidden colours in the paintings, turning them into what appear to be visual orchestras.
In January, 1966, Ziggy Blazje held a one-man show in the Toronto Art Gallery. It was called an Audio Kinetic Environment and the Toronto art followers, like those in Ottawa, were electrified by this young artist's unorthodox but strangely compelling conception of art.
An art historian, Ronald Bloore was born and educated in Brampton. After graduating from the Brampton High School, he attended the University of Toronto, where he majored in art and archaeology.
Mr. Bloore’s work in oils and his finely detailed drawings have been seen in many parts of the world including Sao Paulo in Brazil, Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, the Tate Gallery, London, England and the Dorothy Cameron Gallery, Toronto. Recently his paintings and drawings were seen in the Jerrold Morris International Gallery, Toronto.
In 1966, Mr. Bloore was appointed Director of Art at York University and special lecturer in the Division of Humanities.
Joan de Bustin
Joan de Bustin, free lance artist of Kylie Farm, Cheltenham, received some of her training under the distinctive guidance of Dr. Arthur Lismer, one of the famous Group of Seven.
Mrs. De Bustin took three courses in art altogether. The one under Dr. Lismer in Montreal, one in Medical Art at the University of Toronto and one in drawing and painting at the Northern Vocational School.
She spent a number of years in Japan, Hong - Kong and Formosa, engage in both Red Cross welfare work and painting commissions. When she returned to Canada, she painted a series of eight landscapes as she travelled across the Alaska Highway. These paintings were purchased by the Canadian Post Card Company, who produced the first set of coloured postcards to be taken from actual paintings in this country. The cards were sold in hotels, gift shops and restaurants located on the Alaska Highway.
Alfred William Campbell
Public demand turn May Clarke into a professional artist in 1964. Mrs. Clarke began painting only eight years ago. She developed a technique of painting with oils on black velvet and found that as fast as she completed a picture on velvet, a buyer would purchase it from her.
She was invited to exhibit her work in a one-man-show basis in the gallery of the Odeon-Carlton Cinema in Toronto on two occasions and for the past few years, has hung her work at the annual show held in the Hamilton Art Centre, in special exhibitions at Morgans, at the Carling outdoor show and at the Canadiana Gallery in the Colonnade where her paintings were displayed throughout the mezzanine.
Although still interested in capturing the Peel County landscape on canvas, Mrs. Clarke seems destined to receive only commissions, at present, for portraits on velvet, but hopes she can one day resume painting sections of the Caledon Mountain escarpment which she can see quite clearly from her studio window.
E. B. Cox
Although his non-representational sculpture, in the early thirties, was labelled 'avant-garde' E. B. Cox, a former resident of Palgrave, considers himself a purely romantic sculpture now.
Mr. Cox never studied art at a recognized academy or school. He claims he inherited a natural talent from his grandfather, who was an excellent wood carver.
Despite the fact he always had an ability for, and a keen interest in, sculpture Mr. Cox spent eleven years teaching languages after graduating from the University of Toronto in French and German.
He opened his first studio on a farm just north of Palgrave in 1954 and he lived there for five very creative years, with his wife and family. His studio is now located on Finch Avenue, north-east of Toronto.
Most of this sculptor's work is in stone and some of his creations may be seen at McMaster University, Hamilton, The Park Plaza Hotel, and York University in Toronto and in art galleries throughout Canada, the United States, England and Africa as well as in numerous private collections.
He still produces some nonrepresentational work, but prefers to create beautiful things like a laughing mermaid, a leaping fish or a human form. One of his most recent works is a portrait head of the director of the Royal Ontario Museum.
A Cornishman who came to Canada at the age of three, Adrian Dingle admits he received no formal art training, but denies that his acumen with the paint brush is a gift. He says just pure, simple determination has made him an artist, because he never wanted anything else.
Mr. Dingle spent a number of years as a book illustrator for well known publishing houses. His work also appeared in Chatelaine, Maclean's Magazine and the now extinct Liberty Magazine. Then he began to paint the things he wanted to paint.
He travelled all over Ontario and parts of Canada on painting expeditions, then made a number of trips to Europe, painting in France, Italy, Spain, The British Isles and Ireland — which is his favourite country for subject matter. His work has been exhibited all across subject matter. His work has been exhibited all across Canada, in England and even in Australia.
Each December he holds a one-man show in the Eatons Fine Art Gallery, Toronto, and frequently in their Winnipeg Gallery too, where he will be exhibiting in the spring of 1967.
Adrian Dingle is a member of the ninety-five-year-old Ontario Society of Artists, an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art and, in 1961, was made a life member of the International Institute of Arts and Letters in Bodensee, Germany.
Mr. Dingle and his family have lived in Peel County since they built their home on the Credit River, Port Credit, in 1949.
John Wycliffe Forster
It was John Wycliffe Forster, O.S.A., who had the distinction of being the only artist allowed into the chapel at Windsor Castle in order that he could paint the Thanksgiving service attended by Queen Victoria on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee.
This eminent portrait painter was born in Norval in 1850 and lived for a number of years in Brampton, where he received his education. He studied portraiture in Toronto, Paris and London and his paintings hang in many of the well known galleries in Canada, the United States, and England.
A desire to further develop his painting techniques and to leave the world of commercial art inspired Hilton Hassell to visit England in 1953 to "re-study" painting.
"Mac" Hassell was born in Lachine, Quebec, coming to live in Peel County forty years ago.
He began studying art in 1926 working under J.E.H Macdonald, Beatty and Johnston at the Ontario College of Art. He developed a flair for advertising art after he left college and later became art editor for Maclean's Magazine and art director for two advertising agencies.
In 1955, after his study period in England, Mr. Hassell began to "just paint."
A portrait painter of note, although not specializing in that medium, Mr. Hassell has painted a number of familiar personalities of Peel County. Among them, the late Sam Charters of Brampton, the late H. A. Duke, one time Principal of Port Credit Secondary School, Alan A. Martin, school inspector for Toronto Township, whose portraits hands in the school bearing his name, the Adamson family, Gordon Brydson, the past professional at the Mississauga Golf Club — a noted golfer and sports man, the Hon. George Gathercole, chairman of the Ontario Hydro Commission, the late Rev. Archdeacon C. Saddington of Port Credit and the Late Thomas L. Kennedy, M.P.P. for Peel County and one time Minister of Agriculture for Ontario.
William (Bill) Houston
The old Dingle school nestling in the Albion Hills, has been the studio home of Rosemary Kilbourn for the past ten years.
After graduation from the Ontario College of Art, Miss Kilbourn took further studies at the Slade School, London, England. One of her first works of note, after her return from England, was a mural in the new dining hall of Western University and it shows, symbolically, all the facilities of learning available to the student today.
Miss Kilbourn has completed a number of commissioned portraits, illustrated a book written by Farley Mowat and two others written by her brother, William M. Kilbourn. She taught drawing and painting at the Artist's Workshop, Toronto, and in 1967, will teach for the fourth summer, at the Hockley Valley School of Fine Arts.
Her etchings, often enveloping religious subject matter, led Miss Kilbourn towards the art medium of stained glass. She was commissioned to design and create a window for an Anglican Church in Ottawa, and has since received a further commission for another stained glass window.
Thomas E. (Tom) Matthews
Born in Montreal, Thomas E. (Tom) Matthews came to Peel County ten years ago, taking up residence in Brampton. He studied art at the world renowned Ecole des Beaux Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, his home city, and took private tuition under several masters there. The last artist he worked under was Jacques de Tonnacour, one of the only three Canadian artists mentioned in the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Employed in the graphic art sphere, Mr. Matthews' first love is pure painting. He taught art for seven years, then found it encroached on the valuable time he needed to paint the things he wanted to paint, so he discontinued his teaching.
A Tom Matthews painting was selected to be hung in Ontario House, London, England, and the subject Mr. Matthews chose was a typical Peel County maple bush.
William Firth McGregor (1896—?)
From time to time, an itinerant artist named William Firth McGregor took up temporary residence in Peel County, usually in the home of the late Dr. William Brydon when he lived at 249 Main Street.
Dr. Brydon dubbed this artist, who was not the brawniest of men "Wee" MacGregor, while to others he was just plain Willie.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1896, he studied at both the Edinburgh College of Art and the Royal Scottish Academy, where he took the highest award in drawing. He came to Canada in 1925 and instructed at the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Art and at the Ottawa Art Association.
After moving to Toronto, he became a free lance artist and spent a great deal of time painting scenes through Peel County. The Brydon family still retain a number of his pictures, painted when he was staying with them and a series of sketches and paintings of historic subjects in the county appeared in the Perkins Bull Collection.
His work was exhibited in the Royal Scottish Academy, the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, the Ontario Society of Painters and the Canadian National Exhibition. He is now a resident of Toronto.
David Milne (1882—1953)
One of Canada's most distinguished artists, the late David Milne, lived and painted in the tranquil community of Palgrave in Albion Township, from 1929 to 1933.
Born near Paisley in Bruce County in 1882, David Brown Milne taught in a country school in that district after he had finished high school.
His interest and desire to paint took him, briefly, to the Art Students' League in New York, where he studied painting for six months. He afterwards undertook commercial art work and painted in an around New York.
Five of his works were shown in the Armouries Exhibition, New York, in 1913 and for the next four years, he painted near Tivoli, opposite the catskills, in New York and at Boston Corners in the lower Berkshires where he lived for a time.
He returned to Canada in 1917, joining the army as a private. A year later he was appointed as an official war artist while in London, England, and painted a series of water colours of the Canadian activities in the First World War. These pictures are now in the Canadian War Memorials collection in the National Gallery of Canada.
He returned to America and after spending a summer at Dart's Lake in the Adirondacks, an exhibition of the water colours he made there was shown at Cornell University in 1922.
In 1923 he returned to Canada for a year, wintering in Ottawa and Montreal and at this time the National Gallery of Canada purchased six of his water colours. Milne's paintings were also included in the Canadian Art sections of the two British Empire Exhibitions at Wembley in 1924 and 1925.
David Milne left the United States for good in 1928 and the next year he moved to Palgrave, where he spent almost five contented and creative years. He later lived at Six Mile Lake near Georgian Bay, then in Toronto and finally in Uxbridge, spending his summers and autumns in the Haliburton Highlands. He died in Toronto in December, 1953.
From 1935 on, Mr. Milne's work was included in the majority of the international exhibitions arranged by the National Gallery of Canada. He was also one of the four Canadian painters whose work was shown at the initial Venice Biennale in 1952.
He contributed pictures to the regular showings of the Canadian Group of Painters, the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour and the Canadian Society of Graphic Art, of which three organizations he was a member, and from 1934 to 1938, there were annual exhibitions of his work at the Mellors Gallery in Toronto. The earlier ones were arranged in this gallery by the Honorable Vincent and the late Mrs. Massey. From 1938 to 1953, his pictures were shown at the Picture Loan Society, the gallery owned by David Milne's friend and confidant, Douglas Duncan.
After his death, the National Gallery of Canada organized a comprehensive exhibition of Milne's work which was shown in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto during the winter of 1955 and 1956.
In the spring of 1967, an exhibition of Milne's paintings was displayed in the newly opened Cedar Brae Library.
William Abernethy Ogilvie
Addison Winchell Price
A strange desire to paint primeval jungle scenes and storms led Addison Winchell Price to his designation as an artist. Although born in Toronto, Mr. Price has live d almost all of his life in Port Credit. He had a passionate desire, when a very young boy, to paint scenes from nature, but did not know how to achieve his desire.
A neighbour, Mrs. Andrew Harris, undertook to teach him when he was thirteen, how to use the brush and palette. He revealed a remarkable aptitude for painting and his kindly neighbour took him to the Toronto Art Gallery and to the Ontario College of Art, where he studied under Knowles, Reid and Beatty.
A Winchell Price work was hung by the Ontario Society of Artists when the painter was only nineteen, and since that time, he has exhibited regularly at the Royal Canadian Academy and the Canadian National Exhibition. He also holds frequent one-man shows.
During the seventeen years Dorothy Pullen has been teaching art in Brampton, just over six hundred students have studied in her studio home.
Mrs. Pullen, who came to Brampton to England in 1948, studied drawing and painting at the Chelsea College of Art, London, and at the Technical College in Bournemouth. In the latter school she also studied ceramics under a pottery master, and worked for him privately for two years, making original, hand-thrown ceramic articles.
She has exhibited her work in Brampton, the United States and England, but with the number of students she teaches, and the ease with which she sells her paintings in her gallery, she has little time to submit her work to art show any more.
While studying at the Ontario College of Art, Sandy Pullen of Brampton of Brampton specialized in material arts, which covered sculpture and textile design. She created a number of pieces of metallic sculpture which were exhibited locally, and a wall tapestry she designed and created, hung for several years in the office of the principal of the college.
Born in Geraldton, Sandy and her family moved to Cheltenham where Sandy lived for twenty years. Since moving to Brampton, two and a half years ago, she has taught drawing and painting to children between the ages of nine and sixteen.
Sandy Pullen has exhibited her landscapes and still life paintings in the Queen Square Building, Brampton, and early last summer, held an exhibition of the work of her young students there. She plans to again exhibit their paintings and drawings in the same building during the centennial year.
Geoffrey A. Rock
Charlotte Schreiber, RCA
Stewart C. Shaw
Elizabeth Smiley (Liz)
For a period of five years, Elizabeth Smiley (Liz) livened the art scene of Brampton with her delicate pastel portraits.
Mrs. Smiley studied portrait painting at the Royal Academy of London School of Art and free-lanced there before coming to Canada.
Her portraits of Augustus John and Marlene Dietrich won her acclaim in England and while in Brampton she painted or drew a number of well known personalities including Norah Doole, wi fe of the Daily Times and Conservator publisher, Bill Doole; Dorothy Pullen, local art teacher; Doreen Allen and a number of children.
Stewart C. Shaw
It has been said of Stewart C. Shaw, of Streetsville, an artist who has lived in Peel County since 1951, that " . . . he did for Temagami what Homer Watson did for Doon, Tom Thomson for Algonquin Park, Manly Macdonald for Eastern Ontario . . . " The words were those of the late Augustus Bridle, former art critic of the Toronto Daily Star.
Yet another critic, this time from the Globe and Mail, wrote "The oil paintings of S. C. Shaw present a glowing, joyful zest for the out-of-doors; there is no lack of rich flow in the mood of his studies."
Mr. Shaw’s work is colourful and strong, therefore it is a surprise to discover that he is a small and delicate man, who needs to propel himself about his studio in a wheelchair. He travels by car wherever he desires to paint, then, with the help of friends, manipulates his chair to where he can best see his chosen subject, and careful adjustment of his easel, can then become engrossed in his work.
Stewart studied at the Ontario College of Art, the Toronto Technical School and privately with Royal Canadian Academy Instructors. He enjoys painting the drama of the scenery in the Tegamami region, and around Lake Superior and in the far west. His studies of Indian guides, hunters and horsemen, with their backgrounds of the scenery of the Cariboo, Jasper and the British Columbia coastline are all well known. He has exhibited in many one-man shows. Some of his work can be seen on permanent exhibition, in the Provincial Parliament Buildings in Queen’s Park, Toronto.
Owen Staples, OSA
James Richard Tate
Clifford D. Train
Thelma Van Alstyne
For many years, until 1954, a quietly humourous Dutch artist lived in a house on the banks of the Credit River at Terra Cotta. His name was Jordanus Vandervliet, who was born in Amsterdam, Holland, where he received his training in art and engraving.
He was a colourful painter, who, not satisfied with painting alone, taught local residents how to appreciate the use of colour with a certain flamboyance. He had no patience with the student who only "tickled his canvas" with oil paint. He would urge them to "go ahead — do not be afraid of it — splash it on!" and so many amateur artists developed a courage in the use of colour they might never have discovered without the impellent of Mr. Vandervliet.
When he first moved to Terra Cotta he lived in the white house that is now the "Country Gallery" where contemporary artist John Agg and his wife sell their paintings, sculpture and ceramics. Mr. Vandervliet later built a house and studio closer to the river to enable him to paint the river’s many moods from his studio window when it was far too cold or damp to paint in the outdoors.
Jordanus Vandervliet died in his home at Beeton in October, 1962.
F. A. Verner
It is said that of all the pioneer painters, F. A. Verner best succeeded in capturing the spirit of the frontier landscape, and his Indians and animals gave his portrayals a compelling unity.
Verner was born at Sheridan, near Clarkson in 1836, the son of a principal and superintendent of grammar schools. He went to England in 1856 and studied art briefly at Heatherley’s and the South Kensington Schools of Art. Later he served with the 3rd Yorkshire Regiment for three years then joined a volunteer regiment in 1860 in order to fight with Garibaldi’s patriots in Italy.
He established his first studio in Toronto, when he returned to Canada in 1862 and began to make frequent pursuit of subjects that had fascinated Paul Kane, an artist Verner greatly admired.
In 1872 he took a leading part in the formation of the Ontario Society of Artists and was elected an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1893. He was awarded a medal and diploma at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1901 and received the Diploma of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1910. That same year Verner was honoured with awards by the International Exhibition at Buenos Aires and the Centennial Exhibition at Santiago, Chile. He died in London in 1928.
A special centennial exhibition of Verner’s work was held at the Laing Galleries in Toronto early in 1967.
Albert Curtis Williamson
Hanging in the Brampton High School is a portrait of William James Fenton, B.A., long-time and much loved principal of the school. It is the work of the distinguished portrait painter, the late Albert Curtis Williamson.
Mr. Williamson was born in Brampton and later studied in Paris under Cormon and at the Academie Julien. His exceptionally fine portraiture secured him the award of the Silver Medal at the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition, St. Louis, in 1904.