Fergus Kyle, “The Ontario Society of Artists,” The Year Book of Canadian Art, 1913

WHEN we speak of a “Canadian art” and long so fervently for its advent, presumably we mean that we hope the time will come – soon – when Canadian subjects can be painted by Canadian artists in a manner to compare favourably with the work of painters in other countries. It would be good to see a bit of this fair land well expressed in pigments by an outsider – say, a member of the Glasgow School; it would be good to see a bit of anything at all well expressed by a man whom we know working in Canada. […]

The Ontario Society of Artists has been the father and mother and indulgent old uncle of the younger painters for years. Like the pioneers of this new country, it has done the best it could with the material at hand. In recent years it has encouraged, in so far as inclusion in exhibitions can encourage, the young men to whom we must look for the arts of the near future, the majority of whom are working and living by the commonplace employments available through the wide use of art in commerce. A section of the exhibitions is now open to acceptable works from these branches, and the results are beginning to show that the gulf between work of that sort and what might be called “pure art” is not impassable. A few of the coming painters have studied or are studying abroad; they are beginning to realize the differences in method required, and are bringing their knowledge and skill to the verge of independence in attacking the subjects that face them when the sketch-box is opened at home.


Tom Thomson’s “Northern Lake” is remarkable for its fidelity to the northern shore; boulders and undergrowth in the foreground, the brown water turned to the deep blue of the sky under the fresh gale that is putting white caps on the little lake. […]

Source: Fergus Kyle, "The Ontario Society of Artists" in The Year Book of Canadian Art, (Toronto: J. M. Dent & Sons, Limited, 1913), 183-187. Notes: Edition compiled by the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto. Publication committee: Peter Donovan, J. E. H. Macdonald, M. O Hammond, J. E. Middleton, A. H. Robson, Alan Sullivan

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