E. Wyly Grier, “Canadian Art: A Resumé,” The Year Book of Canadian Art, 1913

[ Dominion of Canada Industrial Exhibition Art Gallery ]

Dominion of Canada Industrial Exhibition Art Gallery, Galbraith Photo Co., Toronto, 1903, Archives of Ontario, F 1140-7-0-3 / I0010330


On this continent the artist is even more singular than in Britain. We have no leisured class; no idle sons to potter with dilettante pursuits, and who, almost unconsciously, drift into art. In Canada, the artistic youngster, realizing that he must make a living, apprentices himself to a firm of lithographers or designers, learns his “high” art in the evenings at an art class or school, and gradually emerges into the glare of the public exhibitions and achieves fame. This fame is local in its early stages, and is more easily attained than in England, where the competitors are more numerous, and where distinct recognition at the great exhibitions of Europe is the criterion of merit. […]

I am reluctant to introduce into the peaceful circle of the sister arts that perennial bone of contention, the subject of national art. But I believe that our art will never hold a commanding position, to use a soldier’s phrase, until we are stirred by big emotions born of our landscape; braced to big, courageous efforts by our climate; and held to patient and persistent endeavour by that great pioneer spirit which animated the explorers and soldiers of early Canada. The thing needs courage. […]

Source: E. Wyly Grier, "Canadian Art: A Resumé" in The Year Book of Canadian Art, (Toronto: J. M. Dent & Sons, Limited, 1913), 243-246. 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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