1942 – 1943

September 01, 1942 – August 31, 1943


As elected at the sixth annual meeting in May 1942:

President:  John N. Meagher
Vice-President, New Brunswick:  Julia Crawford
Vice-President, Nova Scotia:  John Bradford
Vice-President, Prince Edward Island:  Jacqueline MacDonald
Secretary:  Margaret Hibbert
Treasurer:  W.R. Pheeney

Editor, Maritime Art Magazine:  Walter Abell

Ex-officio members of the Executive:
Jean Byers for Nova Scotia, Mrs. Otto Miller for St. Andrews, James E. Harris for Prince Edward Island.

The MAA held an Executive Meeting September 11 – 12, 1942. John Meagher wrote to H.O. McCurry on September 25th outlining the proceedings of the event, itemized and numbered from one to nine.  Among other items, the MAA advised the NGC that it did not want the Royal Canadian Academy Exhibition for its 1942-1943 season in order to comply with the War Emergency Board’s request regarding reducing freight shipments.  H.O. McCurry responded to Meagher on October 16, addressing the MAA’s president’s suggestions and requests.  (See 1942-1943 Documents section of this web site).

In a letter to Madeline Coughey dated October 20, John Meagher points out that Maritime Art will proceed status quo until the next annual meeting (taking place in Halifax).  Meagher notes that if the magazine goes national, the MAA should still continue to print Maritime Art in some form.

Dr. G.H. Henderson, representative for Dalhousie University of the Halifax contingent of the MAA is replaced in by Dr. R.L Saunders.

In a letter dated November 14, 1942, John Meagher writes to H.O. McCurry to thank him for the receipt of a cheque in the amount of $1250.00 from the Carnegie Corporation.  Meagher also takes the opportunity to reiterate some of his accomplishments during his tenure as President of the MAA.
In a second letter of November 14, 1942, Meagher writes to McCurry expressing concern as to how the Carnegie grant money, apart from the portion for the magazine ($500.00), is to be disbursed.  Meagher notes too his “dissatisfaction with many things within the Association”  and that at the September Executive Meeting he in fact wrote out his letter of resignation, but was prevailed upon to withdraw it.   (Letter John Meagher to H.O. McCurry November 14, 1942.)

Walter Abell writes to John Meagher on November 17, mentioning that McCurry has contacted him and discussed the affairs of the MAA.  In addition, Abell was called to meet with Dr. Laurence Coleman, (Director of the American Association of Museums), who was in Canada on behalf of the Carnegie Corporation, assessing the use of the  Carnegie grants.  Abell intimated that there is an idea that the MAA is “accumulating a surplus from its grants rather than to apply the money actively to educational or creative projects.”  (Letter from Walter Abell to John Meagher November 17, 1942.)

On November 23, 1942 John Meagher wrote his letter of resignation, effective December 01, 1942.  The letter was addressed to the membership of the MAA, and in it Meagher confronts the issues raised by Walter Abell in his letter of November 17.

James E. Harris of the Prince Edward Island member group writes directly to H.O. McCurry, requesting a small number of works to be exhibited exclusively on the Island.
McCurry replies that this may be possible as long as he NCG can be assured that “the pictures will be kept on continuous free public exhibition and that they will be handled carefully by experienced people and shown in a reasonably fireproof building.”  Eventually, the small exhibition of six paintings travelled from Charlottetown to Sackville and Rothesay, New Brunswick. (Letter from H.O. McCurry to James E. Harris, December 14, 1942.)

Walter Abell, now acting president of the MAA, responds to Meagher’s pronouncements in a January 07, 1943 written statement to the membership of the MAA.  Abell discusses the dissatisfaction of the Carnegie Corporation with the MAA’s lack of progress in creating any new programs promoting art and its study over the last several years, noting that their funding of the MAA is for that very purpose.  Abell also addresses issues about Maritime Art magazine; for example there are those within the MAA membership who object to the publication going “national,” that is containing broad coast-to-coast arts coverage.  Abell points out that the local population must step up and support the magazine by submitting articles and materials particular to Maritime art.

Walter Abell issued a circular on the MAA’s current activities February 16, 1943.  Among the items discussed is the lack of efficiency in circulating exhibitions; he appoints Violet Gillett to the newly created post of Exhibition Director.  Abell also proposes a Study Program be created for the MAA.  Study programs on various art-related topics would be created and materials such as books and prints would be included to illustrate the principles of any particular program.  The books and prints accumulated from this purpose might eventually create a central library of sorts.  In addition, Abell solicits ideas from members for “constructive projects” the MAA can undertake that exemplify its mandate.  (Circular No.1 Maritime Art Association.  Current Activities. February 16, 1943.)

Evelyn Wright of the Fredericton Art Club writes to Walter Abell in April 1943 for suggestions on how to bring art and the study of it to schoolchildren in McAdam, New Brunswick.  Wright also wishes Abell success in his re-organization of the MAA.

Walter Abell writes to Alice Webster of the New Brunswick Museum, outlining his plans for a Study Program for the MAA, which would be available to member groups and possibly to a wider public.  Abell asks Webster if the Museum is in a position to lend any of its materials for circulation among the study groups, should the scheme come to pass.

In what appears to be a reply made on behalf of Alice Webster, Edith Hudson writes to Walter Abell on January 09, 1943, stating that Alice Webster will support Abell’s endeavours, but points out that materials she and her husband gave to the New Brunswick Museum are now the property of the province.  Webster will discuss the matter with the Minister of Education.

The Eighth Annual Meeting of the MAA took place in Halifax, Nova Scotia on June 10-11, 1943.  (There are no minutes of the meeting in the files at hand, only a copy of the President’s Report).

Moving away from tradition, Walter Abell presented his President’s Report in written form to the delegates prior to the annual meeting, rather than inaugurating the meeting with an oral presentation.  This would allow members to consider its contents and prepare more fully for discussion of same.

Abell laid out the history of the MAA to this point as the “Formative-Carnegie” period and discussed what had occurred in the association during the years 1934-1943, emphasizing the financial aspects of the MAA.  Abell saw the association as currently beginning its second phase, the “Period of Re-Adjustment to Independent Support.”  Again, the financial health and future of the MAA as a self-supporting organization was the focal point.  The expense of circulating exhibitions was discussed at length, and Abell made the suggestion of possibly charging an admission fee.

The report noted that the NGC was not presently sponsoring any lecture tours.  Abell put forward that at the beginning of each exhibition year, the MAA make a list of lecturers available in the Maritime provinces.

On the topic of Study Programs, one project proffered was that the association assemble a lantern slide collection, with an emphasis on Maritime art.  This collection would be available to members as well the general public for viewing in their own homes, should they choose to do so.

Another idea for a “constructive project” was to find a way to assist talented Maritime art students in obtaining scholarships similar to those given out for music.

The difficulties in sending exhibitions to Newfoundland were cited, namely the challenges and costs of transportation and the potential for losing the art works at sea.  The MAA was unable to supply any of the exhibitions requested by Newfoundland during the exhibition season and thus absolved them from membership fees for the year.  Abell suggested to the president of the Saint John’s member group that they apply to the Carnegie Corporation for a grant.

Abell volunteered to edit the association’s unwieldy files, culling secondary information and unimportant scraps of paper and having the remaining pertinent files bound and housed at the Acadia University Library as a permanent record of the associations’ history.

Abell mentions three exhibitions from the 1942-1943 season:  drawings and water colours from Arthur Lismer, a collection of maritime photography from Wallace MacAskill, and a selection of British travel posters provided by the New Brunswick Museum.

In his closing remarks, Walter Abell mentions he will be leaving the Maritimes after working and living there for fifteen years.  Abell mentions he is taking a new position, supervisor of education, replacing Arthur Lismer at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.  Later correspondence with Violet Gillett reveals he was also hired to start up a national arts magazine, Canadian Art.