Canadian Painting in the 30s

3. The Canadian Group of Painters in British Columbia

Painting in British Columbia during the thirties is dominated by the figures of Emily Carr, Fred Varley, and Jock Macdonald. While some younger artists, such as Paul Goranson, E.J. Hughes, and Orville Fisher turned to Social Realism and industrial themes in prints and murals, 1 it was the romantic, landscape tradition defined by the Group of Seven that prevailed. Through their influence as teachers and through their paintings, they passed on this tradition to another generation of artists.

As has been pointed out by Maria Tippett, Emily Carr's own story of her isolation and rejection by her community prior to 1927 was partly exaggerated. 2 She won a second Honourable Mention in oils at the Ninth Annual Exhibition of the Artists of the Pacific North West in Seattle in 1924, 3 and she exhibited occasionally with the Island Arts and Crafts Society in Victoria. 4 But her trips to the native villages had ended and she had been cut off from her emotive sources. She retained a memory of frustration, incomprehension, and loneliness when thinking of these years.

Emily Carr's meeting with Eric Brown, Director of The National Gallery of Canada; her participation in the Exhibition of Canadian West Coast Art, 5 and her introduction to the Group of Seven, 6 all in 1927, at the age of fifty-six, marked the turning point in her career. Of all the members of the Group it was Lawren Harris who elicited the most sympathetic response. After her first visit to his studio she wrote, 'Oh, God, what have I seen? Where have I been? Something has spoken to the very soul of me, wonderful, mighty, not of this world. Chords way down in my being have been touched.' 7 She found in his work the same spiritual strength that had so attracted her to totem poles. 'It is as if a door had opened, a door into unknown tranquil spaces.' 8

Restimulated and reinvigorated, the following summer Emily Carr returned to the native villages, visiting Kitwancool on the Skeena River for the first time, and then travelling up the Nass River to Grenville and across to Skedans on the Queen Charlotte Islands. 9 The sketches and drawings resulting from this trip as well as pre-war sketches 10 and photographs 11 provided the sources for most of her paintings of villages and totems during the late twenties and early thirties.

The influence of Lawren Harris is clearly evident in these works. The strongly modelled, simplified shapes, the concentration on 'significant form' 12 and Vorticist light shafts are all seen in Harris's paintings of the same period. Moving beyond the descriptive aims of her works before the First World War, Emily Carr achieved an intense expression of the spirituality of the totem poles and of the feeling of awe aroused in her by the massive coastal forests surrounding the villages. However, the poles had deteriorated since her earlier visits and been badly restored, losing their subtle beauty.

On Lawren Harris's suggestion Emily Carr turned away from the native villages to the forests. 13 In the spring of 1933 she travelled north of Garibaldi Park to Brackendale, Lillooet, and Pemberton, 14 though most of her sketching was done on Vancouver Island near Victoria. In 1933 she purchased her caravan trailer, 'The Elephant,' which provided her with greater freedom and independence. 15

Another artist who was extremely influential in Emily Carr's life was the American artist Mark Tobey. She first met him in Seattle, 16 and in September 1928 he visited her in Victoria and gave a 'short course of classes' in her studio. 17 He stayed in her house again 18 when Emily visited Toronto and New York in the spring of 1930, 19 and she appears to have kept in touch with him 20 until he left for England in 1931. 21

As Mark Tobey told Colin Graham, 'he battled with her to get her to accept his views of form. He had evolved a system of volumetric analysis of forms combined with what he called the pressure of light areas against dark, and vice versa. The latter he had derived from the work of El Greco, while the former . . . was a modified kind of analytical cubism.' 22 Later he advised her to 'get off the monotone, even exaggerate light and shade, to watch rhythmic relations and reversals of detail, to make [her] canvas two-thirds half-tone, one-third black and white.' 23

Following Tobey's advice, in Grey (c. 1931, cat. no. 28) Emily Carr limited her palette to a monochrome of black, grey, and white, heightening the contrast of light and dark. The outer trees radiate from the central cone whose sculptural form opens to reveal an inner glow at the core. She breaks away from 'the accidentals of surface representation' to represent 'the universals of basic form.' 24

The glowing interior fires of Grey contrast with the external thrust of Tree (c. 1931, cat. no. 29). 25 Almost surreal representations of female and male sexual energies, they are the most intense and concentrated expressions of Emily Carr's vision of the dynamism of her natural surroundings. As for the creators of the totem poles, the trees have become the embodiments of spiritual forces that are both menacing and thrilling. Their energy radiates throughout the forest.

Emily Carr made three trips east, in 1927, 26 1930, 27 and 1933. 28 On each visit the most important moments were those spent with Lawren Harris: 'The day I entered the dreary building, climbed the cold stair, was met by Mr. Harris and led into his tranquil studio, that day my idea of Art wholly changed.' 29 Stimulated by the spirituality of his work she wrote, 'I think perhaps I shall find God here, the God I've longed and hunted for and failed to find.' 30 Harris introduced her to theosophy and advised her to read Ouspensky 31 and Madame Blavatsky. Through letters and discussions he encouraged her religious sentiments and affirmed her awareness of the spiritual search her art entailed.

While Emily Carr was influenced by her readings in theosophy, 32 she remained an ardent Christian and her journal entries up to 1934 express a deep conflict in her efforts to reconcile the two. Discussions with Fred Housser and Lawren Harris during her last visit to Toronto brought the issue to a head. 33 On her return to Victoria she attended several lectures by Raja Singh, a co-worker of Mahatma Ghandi's and decided to take her stand on Christ's side. For Emily Carr the conflict centered around a 'distant, mechanical theosophy God' 34 and a personal one. 'When I tried to see things theosophically I was looking through the glasses of cold, hard, inevitable fate, serene perhaps but cold, unjoyous and unmoving. Seeing things the Christ way, things are dipped in love. It warms and humanizes them . . . . God as love is joyous.' 35 With the robust pantheism of Walt Whitman and the love of Christ in hand, she moves from the stern psychic energies of Grey to the joyful song of A Rushing Sea of Undergrowth (c. 1932 – 1934, cat. no. 30). Her works 'swell and roll back and forth into space, pausing here and there to fill out the song, catch the rhythm, . . . go down into the deep places and pause there and . . . rise up into the high ones exalting.' 36

To express her new sense of freedom and joy, as well as for reasons of economy, she adopted her own sketching medium, oil paints thinned with gasoline. The more fluid medium allowed her to work faster and in a more automatic manner, with a greater freedom of thought and action. 37

In her earlier sketches, such as Tree (c. 1932 – 1933, cat. no. 31 ), she uses the thinned oils broadly, and the stalk of the tree and foliage have a certain density, similar to A Rushing Sea of Undergrowth. However, the dramatic viewpoint and the sweeping curves of the small branches, cutting across the space at different angles gives the sketch a dynamism and unity of movement not always found in the oils of the period.

Emily Carr's paintings to 1937 show a continuing effort to express the feeling of space and of movement in space. She progresses from the dense forest interiors to the sunlit clearings, to the sea shore and finally to pure skyscapes. She disassociates herself from the terrestrial spiritualism of the forest and rises to higher and higher planes – not the serene, ordered, theosophic planes of Lawren Harris, but an exultant, pantheistic freedom.

The God of Grey (cat. no. 28) is not the God of Overhead (c. 1935, cat. no. 32). The former moves from a central core, awesome, earthy, and rich. The latter sends us spinning off into joyful songs of thanksgiving and praise for all creation. In Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky (c. 1936, cat. no. 33) the glories of light and space sweep across the sky, emanating from a central tree in swirls and curves of a Van Gogh.

'I'd just begun to work into canvases what the sketches had shown me when I got ill,' Emily Carr wrote to Eric Brown. 38 She had her first heart attack in January 1937; 39 years of overwork and financial constraint finally caught up with her.

Recuperating from her illness, with temporary financial security resulting from sales in the East, 40 Emily Carr concentrated more on her writing. She returned to the totem poles, reliving their experience in both word and paint. She continued to sketch in the woods at Telegraph Bay and around Victoria, but she descended from the sky to light-filled forest interiors. There was less 'blue light painting.' 41

The next few years saw an increase in Emily Carr's public acceptance and breakdown of her isolation. Her writing brought her into contact with the university community in Vancouver and, in the fall of 1938, she had the first of a series of annual solo exhibitions at The Vancouver Art Gallery. She had had shows and sales in the East since the rebirth of her career in 1927; however, her contacts with the East had always been plagued by uncertainty concerning the whereabouts of her works and by the lack of consistent intelligent reaction to her painting. Acceptance in the West, confirmed by actual sales, assured Emily Carr, a native Westerner, that the West had responded to her at last.

Jock Macdonald wrote of her at this time, 'In my opinion she is undoubtedly the first artist in the country and a genius without question . . . . There is a definite spiritual significance which she has given in her maturity, which is something beyond the interpretation of a Province, above the historical value of her Indian Village period, and greater than masterly technique.' 42

While for Emily Carr, working in isolation, the thirties saw the pinnacle of her career, the Vancouver art scene was less bright. During the previous decade the art community had expanded at a rapid pace. The British Columbia Art League had been active since the early twenties striving to set up an art gallery, which finally opened in 1931. 43 The Vancouver School of Decorative & Applied Arts was formed in 1925, 44 and the following year Fred Varley arrived from Toronto and Jock Macdonald from England. 45 Around the school was a small though creative community. Harold Mortimer-Lamb, secretary of the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, photographer, part-time art critic, and early champion of the Group of Seven, moved to Vancouver in the early twenties. For a short period around 1927, he entered into partnership with another photographer, John Vanderpant, to run The Vanderpant Galleries. 46

John Vanderpant first arrived in Canada in 1911 to report on the possibilities of settlement in Alberta for the Dutch government. He settled in MacLeod, Alberta, and opened a photographic studio with branches in Okotoks and Lethbridge. After the war he moved to New Westminster, British Columbia, and in 1926 to Vancouver. 47 Through Mortimer-Lamb he met Fred Varley and Jock Macdonald and became a fervent supporter of the Group of Seven. He opened up his studio to the students and staff of the art school, holding weekly musical gatherings 48 and exhibitions of their work. 49

Varley's initial reaction to British Columbia was one of ebullient enthusiasm. He wrote back to Toronto, 'The country is full of variety . . . island forms as romantic as Wagner music or a Roerich canvas . . . then chunks of mountains, freakish stuff some of it that makes me realize why Indians are superstitious. Forests that are tropical. . . and . . . marvellous canyons.' 50 He became a 'constant worshipper of moving waters and mists, jack-pines . . . [and] rocky promontories, rushing torrents, glaciers and snow peaks, silver rain, and an atmosphere so changing with forms playing hide and seek and again stark and hard seen through an air so translucent that colours appear as if seen through still waters or crystallized in ice.' 51

The beauty of the landscape stimulated Varley's studies of Chinese painting, for he found in it 'more of the spirit of British Columbia than any painting I have ever seen.' 52 As well, he renewed his interest in Oriental philosophy and occultism, having had personal experiences of sympathetic symptoms and perceptions of auras. 53

Varley's reputation rests primarily on his work as a portrait-painter, yet during his first three years in Vancouver he confined himself almost totally to landscapes. Commissions were almost non-existent; 54 however, he did return to figure work through his relationship with a student, Vera Weatherbie. From 1929 to 1932 he did numerous drawings, watercolours, and oils of Vera, mostly isolated bust or head studies in heightened, non-naturalistic colouring. Varley believed in colour coordinates of spiritual states (blue and green, for example, suggested the highest states of spirituality, red more terrestrial and base ones), 55 and at the Vancouver School he taught the Munsell colour theory, based on the use of complementary tones, to create a colour sphere reflecting the aura of the sitter. 56 In Dhârâna (c. 1932, cat. no. 34), 57 Vera's aura of blue and green permeates the mountain landscape and sky. The rails and post of the cottage porch and the bare trees accentuate the tension of her posture, contrasting with the solid curve and flow of the hills and mountain stream.

The contemplative character of Dhârâna is also found in Open Window (c. 1932, cat. no. 35) where the cool greens and blues flow across the open water to the snow-crested peaks beyond. The serenity of the work recalls the Zen Buddhist 'sound of one hand clapping.' Varley's numerous watercolours and oils of the British Columbia landscape painted during the thirties, with their mist-covered mountains and tiny figures meandering along the paths have a Taoist quality like the Chinese landscapes he so admired.

Jovial, lyrical, and a great sensualist, Fred Varley was an attractive and influential figure for both students and fellow artists alike. One artist closely involved with Varley was Philip Surrey. Born in Calgary, at the age of sixteen Surrey was employed with Brigden's in Winnipeg. While there, he took night classes in sketching at the Winnipeg School of Art under LeMoine FitzGerald. In the fall of 1929 he moved to Vancouver to work with the Cleland-Kent Engraving Company, 58 and the following year met Fred Varley and became a close friend of Fred's oldest son, John. While Surrey attended only a few life classes given by Varley, the expansive areas of cool, sensuous colour, glowing light, and mist-bathed peaks in Going to Work (1935, cat. no. 36,) are strongly reminiscent of the senior artist's work at this time. Working long hours, Surrey quickly developed a preference for evening, or early morning, urban scenes when the lights reflect on the wet streets and the mood is more sombre.

Jock Macdonald joined the staff of the Vancouver School of Decorative & Applied Arts in 1926 as Head of Design and Instructor of Commercial Advertising. 59 Encouraged by Fred Varley and by Barbara, his wife (a graduate in painting of the Edinburgh College of Art), for the first time, Jock seriously started to paint, going on sketching trips to the Fraser Canyon near Lytton, Garibaldi Park, 60 and the Gulf Islands. 61 An early work, The Black Tusk, Garibaldi Park, B.C. (1932, cat. no. 37) bears a close relation to Varley's landscapes of the late twenties, such as Mountain Landscape, Garibaldi Park. 62 In the latter work the paint is rich and luminous and the snow flows like lava. In The Black Tusk the paint is drier and stiffer, and the foreground rocks more linear; however, the thrust of the rock silhouetted against the turbulent, richly painted sky creates a dynamic expression of the mountain's natural forms.

While the decade opened full of hope and with a burgeoning art community, the Depression soon intervened. Varley, supporting a family of five, had continual financial difficulties. Purchases declined, and he had to have a forced sale of his sketches in Toronto. 63 The final blow was a threatened closing of the School by the Vancouver Board of Education in the winter of 1933. Charles Scott, the principal, managed to get the Board to agree to let them run the School on the revenue from fees, the provincial government grant – plus premises and janitorial services. New salaries were based on three and a half days' teaching time for Varley, Macdonald, and Grace Melvin, 64 and full time for Scott. This meant about a sixty per cent reduction in income for the three teachers and only a thirty per cent reduction for the principal. 65 Varley and Macdonald found this 'grossly unfair' and left to organize their own school, the British Columbia College of Arts. 66

They were joined in this venture by a Viennese stage designer, Harry Täuber, former pupil of Franz Cizek and gold medallist in the Theatre Arts Exhibition at the 1925 International Exhibition of Decorative Art in Paris. 67 Täuber arrived in Vancouver in 1931 via Havana and Toronto, possibly seeking entry to the United States to work in Hollywood. He offered private classes in German Expressionism and stage design, 68 and organized a group of marionette players who presented productions of Petroushka and The Witch Doctor at The Vancouver Art Gallery in February 1932. 69 Täuber met Fred Varley and Jock Macdonald soon after his arrival, and the three of them joined forces to set up the new school.

The British Columbia College of Arts attempted to unite under one roof all the arts in an anthroposophic 'Goetheanum,' modelled on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. 70 Varley taught drawing and painting, colour and composition, mural decoration, and book illustration. Jock Macdonald was in charge of industrial design, commercial advertising, colour theory, wood carving, and children's classes, while Harry Täuber taught architecture, theatre arts, film scenario, staging, costume design, art and metaphysics, and eurythmics. They were assisted by Beatrice Lennie in sculpture and modelling, Vera Weatherbie in drawing and painting, and Margaret Williams in design. 71

At the same time the school aimed to create an environment uniting the best qualities of the Pacific Rim cultures, 'drawing together from the east and the west the powerful forces of the art world, welding them together on the B.C. Coast.' 72 Contacts were initiated with the Japanese consulate and efforts made to attract Oriental students. 73

A garage was rented near the art gallery and large curtains hung to divide the working spaces. Sponsors were found and the school opened in September 1933 with sixty-six students in the day classes, mostly former senior students from the Vancouver School of Art. Directed by three strong and magnetic personalities, the school generated a great deal of enthusiasm during its two years of existence. Courses in painting, theatre, dance, music, and eurythmics were supplemented by theatre productions, puppet shows, and exhibitions of student work.

However, the College was competing with a subsidized school in the middle of an economic depression. Few students had money; the teachers less. The scheme was overambitious, and after two years Jock Macdonald was forced to call in the Directors and organize the closure of the school. 74 Soon the artists left Vancouver.

The Macdonalds, with Harry Täuber and his lover, Les Planta, moved to Nootka on the west coast of Vancouver Island, squatting on land a few miles from Friendly Cove. 75 Jock stayed at Nootka for eighteen months, sketching a great deal. A show of his sketches in Vancouver was well received. 76 Life was hard but exciting and he gathered a great deal of material for later work. However, during the summer of 1936 he dislocated his spine getting out of a boat in a stormy sea. 77 Unable to do hard physical labour, he had to leave Nootka and took a part-time teaching job in Vancouver at the Canadian Institute of Associated Arts. 78

The stay at Nootka had been a great stimulant to Jock Macdonald. Living in an environment so determined by the natural elements, and near a people so in tune with these forces, he became more and more interested in a spiritual expression beyond mere external representation. His first canvases completed in Vancouver depicted native life at Friendly Cove. Indian Burial, Nootka (1937, cat. no. 38) shows a great advance in the use of colour and paint from his earlier landscapes.

More important to Jock were his experiments which he called 'modalities.' He defined his intent in a letter to Harry McCurry: 'It means "Expressions of thought in relation to nature" and was considered by Kant to relate to creative expressions which could not be said to relate to nature (objectively) nor relate to abstract thoughts (subjectively) about nature, but rather included both expressions.' 79 As early as 1934 Jock had painted Formative Colour Activity, 80 which he later referred to as an 'automatic' painting. 81 While perhaps painted without a subject consciously intended, the work itself remains entirely representational. The representational element is also present in the modalities which bear such titles as Rain, Winter, Daybreak, and Edge of the Sea, all subjects taken from nature. While more descriptive than some of his modalities, Pilgrimage (1937, cat. no. 39) contains many of their qualities, including strong patterning, stylization of natural forms, and heightened colour. As in Indian Burial, Nootka (cat. no. 38), a natural Gothic arch reaches over the central funereal motif.

Overwork, lack of funds, undernourishment, and depression finally took their toll on Jock Macdonald. His right lung collapsed in the spring of 1937. 82 Confined to his bed, worrying about his family, fed up with Vancouver, Jock was at his wits' end. The Vancouver Art Gallery purchased his painting, Indian Burial, Nootka, giving him time to recover. 83 In September he visited California, possibly to explore job possibilities in Hollywood, 84 and was restimulated by visits to art galleries and by interest expressed in his 'modalities.' 85 Returning to Vancouver, he wrote, 'B.C. has that vapour quality which seems to me to be much more clairvoyant in its inspiration than that blazing and relentless sunshine down south. I am more certain now that Canada is the land where artists can find the environment for true creative activity.' 86

Jock continued working on his modalities. When first exhibited, they were well-received by the Vancouver public, and he was encouraged to continue. 87 In the fall of 1938 he obtained a new post at Templeton Junior High 88 and a contract to do a mural for the reopening of the Hotel Vancouver. 89 The following autumn, after a second trip to California, he transferred to the Vancouver Technical High School. 90 He was still plagued by financial difficulties and hated teaching uninterested students; however, with the outbreak of war in September, he still could write, '[I] realized that expressions of beauty and truth are the most essential qualities of life, and this endeavour of study must not be smothered under any condition.' 91

After the closing of the British Columbia College of Arts, Fred Varley, 'forced into the life of a hermit,' 92 moved to Lynn Valley. He still loved the country and rhapsodized in word and paint about its mystery and beauty. But desperately poor, he dreamed of returning to England and 'of arousing the populace into ecstasy over the prophetic utterances of my work in paint. Such profound utterances though have not been given expression because of the failure to procure materials and "the tubes are twisted and dried." Since hearing of the Group show I have been stricken with the lonesomeness of the West.' 93 A purchase by The National Gallery enabled him to go east.

In Ottawa he obtained a portrait commission, sold some sketches, and continued work on a painting of the resurrection of Christ, aptly entitled Liberation, which he planned to send to the Royal Academy in England. But all the time he longed to return to Lynn Valley and finally did go west 94 – only to return to teach at the Ottawa Art Association in October. 95

Philip Surrey had moved to Montreal in the spring of 1937, and Fred visited him during the Easter holidays. 'His visit resulted in "108 hours of enthusiasm" and a 34 x 40 canvas,' 96 – the latter, Night Ferry, Vancouver (1937, cat. no. 40). Compositionally close to Open Window (cat. no. 35), what a difference there is between the cool, serene, open spaces of the earlier work and the impassioned expression of his separation from Vancouver.

Varley had an exhibition in Montreal in May 97 and spent some time with Philip Surrey. 98 He returned to Vancouver in August and wrote back, 'The country here is more entrancing than ever but Vancouver is a drear drab place for an artist to be imprisoned in. I have seen several old students of mine who have great promise but it hurts terribly to find them so numbed by adversity. As for myself I am marking time, making drawings until I solve the problem of procuring more paints.' 99

Once more he left for the East to teach in Ottawa, 100 and the next summer he accompanied the Federal Government arctic expedition on the Nascopie. 101 The splendour of the colours and the Inuit people entranced him. The lushness of his British Columbian landscapes reappears in Summer in the Arctic (c. 1939, cat. no. 41), in the rich, flowing colour and freely-brushed rocky ground.

When war broke out in 1939, the Ottawa Art Association classes were cancelled. After a year of terrible loneliness and dire poverty, he moved to Montreal where, with the help of friends, he began to work again.


1. Graham C. McInnes, 'Contemporary Canadian Artists No. 12 – Orville Fisher,' The Canadian Forum, vol. XVII, no. 204 (January 1938), pp. 350 – 351. 'Three Young Artists Paint Vancouver for the World,' Vancouver Daily Province (24 March 1939). (re murals for the B.C. Government pavilion, San Francisco Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939).

2. Maria Tippett, ' "A Paste Solitaire in a Steel Claw Setting": Emily Carr and her Public,' B.C. Studies, no. 20 (Winter 1973 – 1974), pp. 3 – 14.

3. Seattle, Seattle Fine Arts Society, 4 – 30 April 1924, Ninth Annual Exhibition of the Artists of the Pacific Northwest, no. 10 (Macaulay Point).

4. Emily Carr exhibited with the Victoria Island Arts and Crafts Society from 1924 to 1926.

5. Ottawa, The National Gallery of Canada, December 1927, Exhibition of Canadian West Coast Art Native and Modern. Exhibited with a partially illustrated catalogue at The Art Gallery of Toronto, January 1928.

6. Emily Carr met Fred Varley in Vancouver on 10 November 1927 and A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, and Lawren Harris in Toronto between 14 November and 14 December 1927. See Emily Carr, Hundreds and Thousands (Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Company Limited, 1966), pp. 3 – 18.

7. Emily Carr, op. cit., p. 6.

8. Ibid, p. 19.

9. 'I tried to [visit Kitwancool] fifteen years ago but the white people would not let me.' Emily Carr, South Bay, Queen Charlotte Islands, to Mr and Mrs Eric Brown, Ottawa, 11 August 1928; in The National Gallery of Canada.

10. Big Raven in The Vancouver Art Gallery was painted from a 1912 watercolour, Cumshewa in The National Gallery of Canada. See Doris Shadbolt, Emily Carr (exhibition catalogue) (Vancouver: The Vancouver Art Gallery, 1971), nos 45 and 62.

11. Blunden Harbour in The National Gallery of Canada was painted from a photograph, presently in the Provincial Archives, Victoria, inscribed, ' This enlargement from a 4 x 5 negative was loaned Miss Emily Carr about 1930 by W.A. Newcombe. Miss Carr painted "Blunden Harbour" now in the National Gallery, Ottawa, from it, never having had an opportunity of visiting this village personally,' and signed W.A. Newcombe. Edith Hembroff-Schleicher notes, 'She quite often worked from Mr Newcombe's photographs, particularly . . . after her first illness in 1937.' See E. Hembroff-Schleicher, Victoria, to Charles Hill, Ottawa, 9 April 1974; in The National Gallery of Canada.

12. Clive Bell's book, Art (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914) in which he formulated the concept of'significant form,' was one of the books Lawren Harris recommended to Emily Carr. (Emily Carr, op. cit., p. 18.)

13. Emily Carr, Growing Pains (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1946), p. 343.

14. Emily Carr, Hundreds and Thousands, pp. 34 – 40.

15. Ibid., p. 49.

16. Mark Tobey, Seattle, to Donald Buchanan, Ottawa (received 15 April 1957); in The National Gallery of Canada. Mark Tobey erroneously dates this meeting between 1922 and 1925.

17. Emily Carr, Victoria, to Eric Brown, Ottawa, 1 October [1928]; in The National Gallery of Canada. A painting by Mark Tobey, Emily Carr's Studio, is dated 1928. See Mark Tobey, A Retrospective Exhibition from Northwest Collections (exhibition catalogue) (Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1959), repr.

18. Mark Tobey, Seattle, to Donald Buchanan, Ottawa (received 15 April 1957); in The National Gallery of Canada. Tobey remarks, 'Also I stayed in her studio when she went East the second time.'

19. Emily Carr left Victoria late March ('On Way East to Attend Exhibitions of Her Work,' Victoria Daily Colonist [1 April 1930]) and was in New York sometime in May (Lawren Harris, Toronto, to Katherine Dreier, 18 June 1930; in the Dreier Archive, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven). For an account of her trip to New York see Emily Carr, Growing Pains, pp. 241 – 250.

20. Emily Carr, Hundreds and Thousands, p. 21. Entry dated 24 November 1930.

21. William C. Seitz states Tobey left for England in 1930. See Mark Tobey (exhibition catalogue) (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1962), p. 49. However, Edward Weston notes a visit from Mark Tobey on 30 August 1931. See The Daybooks of Edward Weston (Rochester [N.Y.]): George Eastman House, 1966), vol. II, p. 223.

22. Colin Graham, Victoria, to Donald Buchanan, Ottawa, 19 July 1957; in The National Gallery of Canada.

23. Emily Carr, Hundreds and Thousands, p. 21.

24. Ibid., p. 25.

25. Georgia O'Keeffe was painting similar organic natural forms at this time. Emily Carr met Georgia O'Keeffe in New York in 1930. (Emily Carr, Growing Pains, p. 250.)

26. Emily Carr, Hundreds and Thousands, pp. 3 – 19.

27. Ibid., p. 21.

28. Ibid., pp. 68 – 83.

29. Emily Carr, Growing Pains, p. 340.

30. Emily Carr, Hundreds and Thousands, p. 7.

31. Ibid., p. 18.

32. Much of her writing has a theosophic character to it. See, for example, Emily Carr, Hundreds and Thousands, p. 33.

33. Ibid., pp. 79 – 80.

34. Ibid., p. 93.

35. Ibid., p. 149.

36. Ibid., p. 138.

37. The first dated oil sketch is Forest Interior (1932), Collection of Mr John McDonald, Vancouver. See Doris Shadbolt, Emily Carr, no. 77 repr. Emily Carr first wrote about her new medium in her journal entry for 27 January 1933. See Emily Carr, Hundreds and Thousands, p. 33.

38. Emily Carr, Victoria, to Eric Brown, Ottawa, 4 March 1937; in The National Gallery of Canada.

39. Emily Carr, Hundreds and Thousands, p. 274.

40. Ibid., pp. 285 – 289.

41. Emily Carr, Victoria, to Nan Cheney, Vancouver, [postmarked 30 November 1937]; in The University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

42. J.W.G. Macdonald, Vancouver, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 24 October 1938; in The National Gallery of Canada.

43. Charles H. Scott, 'A Short Art History of British Columbia.' in Behind the Palette 1946 – 1947 (Vancouver: Vancouver School of Art, 1947).

44. Idem.

45. While Jock Macdonald, an Edinburgh College of Art graduate, was Scottish, he had been teaching the previous year at the Lincoln School of Art in England. (British Columbia College of Arts Limited, Illustrated Prospectus, 1934 – 1935, hereafter referred to as Prospectus.)

46. The firm's letterhead at this time lists John Vanderpant and Harold Mortimer-Lamb as 'Associates.'

47. Conversation with Mrs Anna Vanderpant Ackroyd, Vancouver, 20 November 1973.

48. Ada F. Currie, 'The Vanderpant Musicales,' in The Paintbox (Vancouver: Vancouver School of Decorative & Applied Arts, 1928), p. 48.

49. A large exhibition was held at the time of the opening of The Vancouver Art Gallery to encourage the purchasing committee to buy contemporary works by British Columbia artists. See Reta Myers, 'In the Domain of Art,' V ancouver Daily Province, 12 April 1931.

50. Fred Varley, Vancouver, to Arthur Lismer, Toronto, [c. February 1928]; in The McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinburg.

51. Fred Varley, Vancouver, to L.L. FitzGerald, Winnipeg, 25 September 1934; private property.

52. Fred Varley, Vancouver, to Eric Brown, Ottawa, 18 February 1928; in The National Gallery of Canada.

53. Conversation with Peter Varley and Mrs Maude Varley, Toronto, 17 October 1973. John Varley, the oldest son, was extremely interested in astrology as well as oriental and Rosicrucian teachings. (Interview with Philip Surrey, Montreal, 14 September 1973.)

54. During the summer of 1930 he taught at the Art Institute of Seattle ('Famous Artist is Added to Institute,' Seattle Times, 6 July 1930) and completed a portrait of Dr C.W. Sharpies for the Seattle General Hospital (Fred Varley, Seattle, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa [July 1930]; in The National Gallery of Canada).

55. These theories were common in theosophic and Oriental mystical teachings. See discussion of Lawren Harris's abstracts below, pp. 76 – 77.

56. Telephone conversation with John Aveson, Vancouver, 18 November 1973.

57. Donald Buchanan defines dhârâna as a 'Buddhist term signifying the power to project oneself into one's surroundings.' See Donald Buchanan, 'The Paintings and Drawings of F.H. Varley,' Canadian Art, vol. VII, no. 1 (Autumn 1949), p. 3. The Oxford English Dictionary defines 'dharna' as a 'Hindi term for the act of sitting in restraint' and 'sitting dharna' as 'a mode of extorting payment or compliance with a demand, effected by the complainant or creditor sitting at the debtor's door without tasting food till his demand shall be complied with.'

58. Interview with Philip Surrey, Montreal, 14 September 1973.

59. Prospectus.

60. J.W.G. Macdonald, Vancouver, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 9 April 1932; in The National Gallery of Canada.

61. Reta Myers, 'In the Domain of Art,' Vancouver Daily Province (5 July 1931).

62. Mountain Landscape, Garibaldi Park (c. 1928, oil on canvas; 34 x 40 in., 86.4 x 101.6 cm) Power Corporation of Canada, Limited, Montreal. See Dennis Reid, The Group of Seven, p. 225 repr. This work was formerly in the collection of John Vanderpant.

63. Bertram Brooker, Toronto, to L.L. FitzGerald, Winnipeg, l0 January 1932; private property.

64. Grace Melvin, Charles Scott's sister-in-law, had joined the staff in 1927, teaching design and crafts. ('Grace Melvin,' The National Gallery of Canada Information Form, 27 May 1933.)

65. Charles Scott, Vancouver, to Arthur Lismer, Toronto, 10 October 1933; in the Art Gallery of Ontario.

66. Fred Varley, Vancouver, to Eric Brown, Ottawa, 5 April 1933; in The National Gallery of Canada. The name originally considered for the new school was 'National Art School of British Columbia.'

67. Prospectus. Täuber also studied under a professor 'Hoffman,' probably Josef Hoffmann (1870 – 1955), the noted Viennese Art Nouveau architect.

68. Interview with Isabel Wintemute, Vancouver, 17 November 1973.

69. Reta Myers, 'In the Domain of Art,' Vancouver Daily Province (24 January 1932).

70. Harry Täuber was a student of anthroposophy, an outgrowth of theosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner when he broke away from the Theosophical Society directed by Annie Besant.

71. Prospectus.

72. Fred Varley, Vancouver, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 16 April 1934; in The National Gallery of Canada.

73. H.E. Torey, 'Where East Meets West,' Saturday Night, vol. xlix, no. 24 (21 April 1934), p. 10.

74. J.W.G. Macdonald, Vancouver, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 29 December 1936; in The National Gallery of Canada. The school closed during the summer of 1935.

75. Conversation with Barbara Macdonald, Toronto, 16 October 1973. Harry Täuber and Les Planta later moved to Duncan, B.C. See J.W.G. Macdonald, Vancouver, to John Varley, [Nootka?], 8 December 1936; copy in the Burnaby Art Gallery.

76. 'Recent Nootka Sketches at Art Emporium,' Vancouver Daily Province, 1 February 1936.

77. J.W.G. Macdonald, Nootka, to A.Y. Jackson, Toronto, 28 August 1936; in The National Gallery of Canada.

78. J.W.G. Macdonald, Vancouver, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 29 December 1936; in The National Gallery of Canada.

79. J.W.G. Macdonald, Vancouver, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 22 July 1938; in The National Gallery of Canada.

80. Formative Colour Activity (1934, oil on canvas; 30-3/8 x 26-1/8 in., 77.1 x 66.4 cm) The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. See R. Ann Pollock and Dennis Reid, Jock Macdonald (exhibition catalogue) (Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada, 1969), p. 36 repr.

81. J.W.G. Macdonald, Toronto, to Maxwell Bates, [Calgary?], 30 July 1956; in The McCord Museum, McGill University.

82. William Firth MacGregor, Vancouver, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 21 April 1937; in The National Gallery of Canada.

83. A.S. Grigsby, Secretary, The Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 4 May 1937; in The National Gallery of Canada.

84. 'Things are exceedingly difficult – so difficult in fact that it appears likely that I will leave Canada for further south,' J.W.G. Macdonald, Vancouver, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 12 August 1937; in The National Gallery of Canada.

85. J.W.G. Macdonald, Vancouver, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 23 October 1937; in The National Gallery of Canada.

86. Idem.

87. J.W.G. Macdonald, Vancouver, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 16 June 1938; in The National Gallery of Canada.

88. J.W.G. Macdonald, Vancouver, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 7 September 1938; in The National Gallery of Canada.

89. Nan Cheney, Vancouver, to Eric Brown, Ottawa, 23 January 1939; in The National Gallery of Canada. The hotel, a victim of the Depression, had been left uncompleted and closed for seven years. For reproductions of the decorations in the hotel, see Robert Ayre, 'Murals in Our Public Buildings,' Saturday Night, vol. LV, no. 30 (25 May 1940), p. 2.

90. J.W.G. Macdonald, Vancouver, to John Varley, Ottawa, 9 September 1939; copy in The Burnaby Art Gallery.

91 .J.W.G. Macdonald, Vancouver, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 2 December 1939; in The National Gallery of Canada.

92. Fred Varley, Upper Lynn (B.C.), to Eric Brown, Ottawa, 7 December 1935; in The National Gallery of Canada.

93. Fred Varley, Upper Lynn (B.C.), to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 23 February 1936; in The National Gallery of Canada.

94. A.Y. Jackson, Montreal, to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 22 August 1936; in The National Gallery of Canada.

95. Telegram, Fred Varley, Field (B.C.), to H.O. McCurry, Ottawa, 10 October 1936; in The National Gallery of Canada.

96. Philip Surrey, Montreal, to John Vanderpant,Vancouver, 23 April 1937; private property.

97. Montreal, W. Scott & Sons, from 26 May 1937, Frederick H. Varley, A.R.C.A.

98. Interview with Philip Surrey, Montreal, 14 September 1973.

99. Fred Varley, Upper Lynn (B.C.), to Eric Brown, Ottawa, 30 August 1937; in The National Gallery of Canada.

100. Fred Varley, Ottawa, to John Vanderpant, Vancouver, 5 November 1937; private property.

101. Charles Camsell, Deputy Minister of Mines and Resources, Ottawa, to Eric Brown, Ottawa, 1 July 1938; in The National Gallery of Canada.