1935 – 1936

September 01, 1935-August 31, 1936


President – Walter H. Abell, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia
Secretary – Violet A. Gillett, Saint John Vocational School, Saint John, New
Treasurer – Mrs. A.V. Steeves, Wolfville, Nova Scotia
Vice-Presidents – John N. Meagher, Fletcher Peacock, and James Harris.
Additional members – Elizabeth A. McLeod, Elizabeth S. Nutt, and Fred Pickles

Walter Abell was Professor of Art at Acadia University
Violet A. Gillett was head of the Art Department at Saint John Vocational
Mrs. A.V. Steeves was a member of the Fine Arts Club of Wolfville
John N. Meagher was the then president of the Nova Scotia Museum of
Fine Arts, Halifax
Fletcher Peacock was principal of the Saint John Vocational School
James Harris was a member of the Art Society of Prince Edward Island,
Elizabeth A. McLeod was the director of the Mount Allison Art School, Owens
Art Gallery in Sackville
Elizabeth S. Nutt was the principal of the Nova Scotia College of Art,
Fred Pickles was President of the Moncton Society of Art

Member Groups

Acadia University Fine Arts Club, Wolfville, Nova Scotia
Art Society of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Lord Amherst Chapter of the I.O.D.E. (Imperial Order of Daughters of the
Empire), Amherst Nova Scotia
Louisbourg Chapter of the I.O.D.E., Sydney, Nova Scotia
Moncton Society of Art, Moncton, New Brunswick
Netherwood School, Rothesay, New Brunswick
New Glasgow Arts and Letters Club, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia
Newcastle Art Club, Newcastle, New Brunswick
Nova Scotia College of Art, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Arts, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Society of Artists, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Provincial Normal School, Fredericton, New Brunswick
Sackville Art Club, Sackville, New Brunswick
St. Andrews Art and Study Club, St. Andrews, New Brunswick
Saint John Art Club, Saint John, New Brunswick
Saint John Vocational School, Saint John, New Brunswick

The membership in the Maritime Art Association grew from eleven groups in seven centers at the association’s initial organization meeting of March 29-30, 1935 to seventeen groups in thirteen centers by the time of the first annual meeting in May of 1936.

The Newfoundland Society of Art had written to H. O. McCurry, Assistant Director of the National Gallery of Canada in early 1936 inquiring as to whether one of the exhibitions being circulated by the Maritime Art Association could be sent to St. John in April. Walter Abell’s reply to McCurry states that the exhibition schedule makes this impossible, but “If the Newfoundland Society for Art cared to affiliate with the Maritime Art Association, it might conceivably be included in our schedule for another year.”  McCurry replies that it is his strong wish that such an affiliation will occur; it does not seem, however, that this occurred.

Individual Memberships

Mrs. Louella H. Anderson, Sydney, Nova Scotia
Mrs. Thomas J. Coughey, St. Andrews, New Brunswick

Names of other individual members not recorded in official documents might be found in Maritime Art Association financial records at the Provincial Archives of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.

Membership in the Maritime Art Association was $10.00 per member group per annum. Individual paid slightly less.

­Centers:  The MAA used the term “center” to designate exhibition venues.

Saint John, New Brunswick
Moncton, New Brunswick
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Sackville, New Brunswick
Rothesay, New Brunswick
New Glasgow, New Brunswick
Wolfville, Nova Scotia
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Newcastle, New Brunswick
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Amherst, Nova Scotia
St. Andrews, New Brunswick

Executive Meeting 07-08 September, 1935 – Mount Allison University, Sackville.

Resolutions for the year 1935 -1936:

To concentrate on National Gallery of Canada exhibitions.

To circulate five exhibitions through the nine centers: three from the National Gallery of Canada and two organized by the Maritime Art Association in order to “stimulate creative efforts” in the Maritime provinces.

To create an exhibition schedule that would run from October of one year to May of the following year.

To encourage small centers to show all five exhibitions and to help them financially if necessary.

To publish a brief educational folder (“commentary”) for each exhibition.

To acquire National Gallery of Canada’s regular lectures with accompanying slides for loan to our local groups and possibly to public schools.

To invite Arthur Lismer for a lecture tour throughout the thirteen centers beginning in the Fall and secure another lecturer for the spring.

Other Proposed Activities:

Organize a  Maritime Art Week to be held each spring, culminating with the annual convention of the Maritime art Association.

To prepare a list of recommended books on art for public libraries in the Maritime provinces.

To encourage art education in public schools with exhibitions of good reproductions.

To organize the first annual meeting of the Maritime Art Association at St. John, New Brunswick to take place March 29-30, 1936.

To present radio talks on art.

To submit articles with reproductions for the Maritime “ Educational Review

A second meeting of the Executive Committee was held on 20 September 1935 to select the District Secretary of the Maritime Art Association.

Regarding the suggestion of a “Maritime Art Week,” Walter Abell thought it to be impractical, as officers of the different groups already had large demands on their time with their existing duties in the Maritime Art Association. However, Abell did encourage any local groups who wished to organize something of the kind independently to proceed.


Painting in the Maritime Provinces
Canadian Paintings from the National Gallery of Canada Collections
British Travel Posters
Modern Prints from Czechoslovakia
Modern French Painting in Colour Reproductions

A special non-circulating exhibition, Thirty Contemporary Colour Prints Selected from the National Gallery, was made available to Acadia University from October 1935, as the British Travel Posters exhibition would not be available to the Maritime Art Association until November.  Artists’ works from Austria, England, Poland, France and the United States were included in the exhibition.  Prints by Canadian artists A.J. Casson, Fred Haines, David Milne and Walter J. Phillips were also part of the show.

First Annual Exhibition:  Painting in the Maritime Provinces

Maritime artists to ship paintings for submission by October 29, 1935; selection by judges to be made November 01-02.

Entries to be framed and between 14 x 18 and 25 x 36.

Only one painting per artist will be accepted for the exhibition.

In all thirty-one pictures out of eighty submitted were selected for this exhibition.

The exhibition traveled to all thirteen centers between November 1935 and May 1936.

Inaugural exhibition held in Halifax on November 11, 1935.

Due to his schedule Arthur Lismer was unable to travel to the Maritimes Art Association’s to judge submissions to the exhibition. Therefore, the Executive appointed Andrew Cobb, Stanley Royle (both of whome had paintings in the show) and Walter Abell as judges.

A brochure listing the artist and works, along with a forward by Walter Abell was available for ten cents. Because of its popularity, this catalogue went into a second printing.

Artists included in the exhibition:
Frank D. Allison                                   Jack Humphrey
G. Phil. Backman                                  Gregory McGrath
F.H. Beals                                  Donald Cameron MacKay
Gertrude A. Bent                                  Mollie Bell MacKay
Marion Bond                                  Mabel McCulloch
Lillian Clarke                                  Christian McKiel
A.R. Cobb                                  Elizabeth McLeod
Julia T. Crawford                                  Elizabeth S. Nutt
Frieda I. Creelman                                  Marguerite Porter
Mabel K. Day                                  H.M. Rosenberg
Frances K. Forbes                                  Stanley Royle
Violet A. Gillett                                  Avery Shaw
Gewndolyn Hales                                  Edith Smith
Katherine Hammond                                  Marjorie H. Tozer
Dr. John Hammond, C.R.A.                                  J. Leroy Zwicker
Norman K. Hay

Exhibition touring itinerary in order of venue:
Saint John
New Glasgow


Canadian Paintings from the National Gallery of Canada Collection

A selection of twenty-five oil paintings from the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada toured to the nine centers of the Maritime Art Association.  A mimeographed commentary written by Elizabeth Nutt and the accompanying catalogue was available for fifteen cents.

Artists represented in the exhibition:
Wilfred M. Barnes                                  C.W. Jeffreys
Franklin Brownell                                  Ernest Lawson
W.H. Clapp                                  Andre C. Lapine
F.S. Coburn                                  Arthur Lismer
Maurice Cullen                                  J.E.H. MacDonald
Berthe Des Clayes                                  Manly MacDonald
Mary Bell Eastlake                                  Mabel H. May
Paul B. Earle                                  L.A.C. Panton
L.L. Fitzgerald                                  Albert H. Robinson
Clarence A. Gagnon                                  Charles W. Simpson
Fred S. Haines                                  F.H. Varley
Lawren Harris                                  Mary E. Wrinch
A.Y. Jackson

Exhibition touring itinerary in order of venue:
New Glasgow
Saint John

Modern French Painting in Colour Reproductions

Series of colour reproductions in the original size from modern masters such as Monet, Renoir, Cezanne and Van Gogh assembled by the National Gallery of Canada.  A mimeographed commentary provided by Walter Abell supplemented the National Gallery catalogue and cost fifteen cents.

Exhibition touring itinerary in order of venue:
New Glasgow
Saint John

British Travel Posters

This collection, assembled by the National Gallery of Canada, highlighted the diversity of styles in poster art.  A mimeographed commentary provided by Violet Gillett was available for fifteen cents and a printed catalogue available for three cents.

Exhibition touring itinerary in order of venue:
Saint John
New Glasgow

Contemporary Czechoslovakian Prints

A selection of forty-eight woodcuts, lithographs, etchings, aquatints and dry-points from a collection of seventy-five, assembled by the National Gallery of Canada.  A mimeographed commentary written by Elizabeth McLeod was included with the catalogue and could be purchased for fifteen cents.

Exhibition touring itinerary:
Saint Andrews
New Glasgow
Saint John

For further information concerning individual exhibitions, see:  Garry Mainprize, The National Gallery of Canada:  A Hundred Years of Exhibitions (Ottawa:  National Gallery of Canada, c. 1985).

The costs of pre-production for these exhibitions and for providing guest lecturers furnished by the National Gallery of Canada were free of charge as the Gallery considered them as part of its educational mandate.

The MAA charged each exhibiting centre was a $35.00 annual rental fee for all five shows in the1935-1936 exhibition year to cover shipping costs from the National Gallery and between each centre in the Maritimes.

The Maritime Art Association received $500.00 Canadian Carnegie Committee grant in November 1935, greatly assisting its first exhibition season. In a letter dated 17 March 1936, H.O. McCurry  (who was also the Secretary of the Carnegie Committee) informs Abell that the Carnegie Corporation grants are given to assist with the initial stages of an endeavour.  The Maritime Art Association could expect a grant for the next year or two, but should look toward means of self-support.

Exhibitions remained on view in each center for a two-week period.

Five copies of the mimeographed commentaries were available for free use at each exhibition venue.

Due to time constraints the Maritime Art Association could only organize one of their two planned exhibitions for the 1935-1936 season:
Painting by Artists in the Maritime Provinces.  The proposed exhibition on design to be organized by Walter Abell was thus replaced by The National Gallery of Canada’s Modern Prints from Czechoslovakia exhibition.


In January 1936 Walter Abell, under the patronage of the National Gallery of Canada, endeavored to travel to all centres in the Maritime Art Association where he presented the lectures “A Key to Art” and     “Twentieth Century Architecture.”  Due to the death of King George V on January 20th the lecture to be held in Moncton was postponed.

Elizabeth Nutt lectured on Canadian Art in Wolfville on March 12, 1936.

As previously indicated any lectures provided under the auspices of the National Gallery of Canada were open to the public and free of charge.

Due to other obligations, Arthur Lismer was unable to travel to the Maritime Provinces to deliver a proposed series of lectures.

In a letter to H. O. McCurry on 07 February, 1936 Walter Abell noted that several of the groups he visited on his lecture tour had requested art books for reading and study, especially with regard to upcoming exhibitions. Abell wrote that a Maritime Art Association Library should be the next step in the collective’s expansion. In his reply of March 04, 1936 H.O. McCurry dissuades Abell from this course, stating “I do not believe I would spend any part of your meager grant on books…to dissipate any large amount on books which should be bought by local libraries would, I think, be a mistake.”

In that same letter Abell had informed McCurry that many of the groups in the Maritime Art Association also had members who were painting, but without instruction.  Abell suggested that it would be most advantageous if an instructor could occasionally be sent around to the various groups to give “criticism.”  In his reply of   04 March1936, McCurry agrees that the idea is a good one, but is “not prepared at present to give it the consideration which would be necessary.”

In his 12 May 1936 letter to Walter Abell, H.O. McCurry mentions plans to bring English art critic and lecturer Eric Newton to Canada in the coming fall or winter.

First Annual Meeting

21-22 May 1936, Beethoven Hall, The Ladies College at Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick

Chair:  Professor Walter Abell

Dates and hours of sessions:
21 May  – 8:00 p.m. Topic:  Lectures and other educational activities
22 May  – 9:30 a.m. Topic:  Exhibitions
2:30 p.m. Topic:  Problems of organization; election of officers
8:00 p.m. Topic:  Public meeting:  An open discussion of the topic
“Attitudes Towards Modern Art”

Walter Abell delivers the first annual report of the Maritime Art Association.

Annual meetings also included reports from individual member centres, as these were recordedwith the minutes of the meeting.


To begin exhibition season on the first of October.

To provide a lecture at the start of each exhibition season at each of the member centres.

To prepare a “Commentary” for each exhibition well in advance and written in clear and accessible language; a suggestion of two or three books for further reading on the subject of the exhibition should be included in the brochure.

To make available educational materials on each exhibition to member groups in advance of said exhibition’s arrival; to ask the National Gallery of Canada to provide such material for the exhibitions that it sends to the Maritime Art Association.

To request local libraries to obtain books on art subjects from a list to be provided by a special committee of the Maritime Art Association.

To send letters to the Central Advisory Council of Maritime Universities stating the Association’s advocacy of art training in the provinces.

To recommend to the Minister of Education of New Brunswick that the current drawing course given in New Brunswick Public Schools be appreciably expanded to include the “fundamentals of design and colour and their application to practical and appreciative art”.

To authorize the President of the MAA to hire an assistant at a salary of $300.00 per annum to carry out the routine office and administrative duties of the association, (Marcelle Achard Abell was later engaged as part-time secretary/assistant to her husband Walter Abell).

To assist in the securing of a space in the Post Office Building for a permanent Art Gallery for the city of Halifax.

To accept the vote that the Second Annual Maritime Art Exhibition would consist of watercolours, pastels, tempera, and craft-work (weaving and pottery).

Proposals (future activities):

To request that the National Gallery of Canada curate an exhibition of “objects and works of Art to show the structure of design and the relationships of Art  Principles to various project” or at least assist the Maritime Art Association preparing a presentation on this theme.

To request that each group represented at the First Annual Meeting make a list of preferred shows from those exhibitions available from The National Gallery of Canada for the October 1936-May1937 season; final selection to be made by the MAA executive, using these lists as the basis for their selection.  The five exhibitions requested were the Canadian Group of Painter’s Traveling Show, Modern Colour Prints, Original Stage and Costume Designs by Norman Wilkinson, An Exhibition of Contemporary Work by Children and Photograph Exhibition, Second International Salon.

To ask the National Gallery to recommend an artist from outside the Atlantic region to act as judge for the Second Annual Maritime Art Exhibition.

To prepare a list of lecturers from the Maritime Provinces whose services would be available to the Maritime Art Association.

The exhibition of contemporary works by children requested at the annual meeting was not included on the list of available exhibitions for the Maritime Art Association’s 1936-1937 season that was sent from the National Gallery on May 5th.  In his letter to H.O. McCurry of May 23, 1936, Walter Abell states “it was felt that such an exhibition would stimulate the interest of the children in our communities, and would have the further advantage of acquainting the teachers in our schools the kind of results obtained by modern methods of art education.  Have you any such exhibitions which could be sent to us?”

Election of Officers for 1936 – 1937:
President:  Walter Abell
Vice-President, New Brunswick:  N. A. Hesler
Vice-President, Nova Scotia:  John Meagher
Vice-President, Prince Edward Island:  James Harris
Secretary:  Violet Gillett
Treasurer:  Louise Manny

Ex- officio members of the Executive:
A.R. Cobb, A.G. Bailey, H.H. Haggerman

Chairman of the publicity committee:
E.D. Walsh.

N.A. Hesler was President of the Sackville Art Club.
Louise Manny was a prominent folklorist and historian.
Andrew Randall Cobb was a Halifax-based architect who designed many important buildings in the city.
Dr. Alfred G. Bailey was a poet, historian, and educator.  He was at the Museum of New Brunswick from 1935-1938.  Dr. Bailey then went on to head the History Department at the University of New Brunswick from 1938-1969.
Dr. H.H. Haggerman was principal of the Provincial Normal School in Fredericton.
E.D. Walsh:  New Brunswick Free Press, Saint John; member of the Saint John Art Club.

In November 1935 Walter Abell wrote to the National Gallery of Canada’s Assistant Director, H.O. McCurry suggesting the Gallery appoint an “Educational Director” in order to provide the public with an informed and enjoyable experience when attending any of the Gallery’s traveling exhibitions.