TABLE OF CONTENTS

Summary

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content

Collection Summary

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content

Organization of the Collection

Index Terms

Administrative Information 

Contact Information

Series Level Descriptions

1 - Correspondence, vol. 1: 1888-1943. 

2 - Correspondence, vol. 2: 1887-1936. 

3 - Correspondence, vol. 3: 1834, 1854-1869, 1889-1950.

Box List

SERIES 1 - Correspondence, vol. 1 

SERIES 2 - Correspondence, vol. 2 

SERIES 3 - Correspondence, vol. 3 

National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives

Homer Watson fonds: 

Finding Aid 



Collection Summary

Title: Homer Watson fonds. 
Dates: – 1834, 1854-1869, 1889-1950. 
Quantity:  – 50 cm of textual records and 4 photographs. 

Biographical Sketch

Homer Ransford Watson, Canadian landscape painter and etcher was born in Doon, Ontario in 1855, the son of Ransford Watson and Susan Mohr. Watson became interested in art in his childhood after receiving a box of paints from his aunt and went on to develop as an artist without the benefit of formal training. In 1874-75 Watson worked at Notman Photographic Studios in Toronto, where he met artists John Arthur Fraser (1838-1898), J. Henry Sandham (1842-1910), Lucius O'Brien (1832-1899), and Henri Perré (1828-1890). Two years later, in 1876, he visited New York, where he met George Inness (1854-1926) and was exposed to paintings by artists of the Hudson River School. Watson first exhibited professionally in 1878, in an exhibition sponsored by the Ontario Society of Artists. In 1880 his painting The Pioneer Mill was included in the first exhibition of the Royal Canadian Academy and was purchased by the Marquis of Lorne for the collection of Queen Victoria. He was elected an Associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1882. Watson first travelled abroad in 1887, living in Maidenhead, England and Pittenweem, Scotland and also briefly visiting France, where he was exposed to Barbizon painting. In 1889 he exhibited at New Gallery, London and the Royal Institute, Glasgow. In Canada Watson sold his work through James Spooner and John Payne, art dealers based in Toronto. Jenkin's Art Galleries, Toronto held a retrospective exhibition of Watson's work in 1920.

In 1881 Watson married Roxanna (Roxa) Bechtel, and the couple moved into the Drake House at Doon, which they purchased in 1883 and kept as a permanent residence until Watson's death. Homer and Roxa had one son, Charles, who died in infancy. They subsequently adopted a daughter Mary. Throughout his life Watson maintained close relationship with his sister, Phoebe, who lived with him in Doon following the death of Roxa in 1918. Watson died in Doon in 1936.

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Scope and Content

The fonds consists of three accruals of correspondence and miscellaneous items related to the career of Homer Watson. The first accrual consists of correspondence between H. Watson and various friends and associates, along with correspondence between relatives, friends, and admirers of Watson. The second accrual includes letters to H. Watson from the Toronto art dealer John Payne, 1887-1901, and letters to Watson from various artists, friends, and collectors; the third accrual consists of letters to Watson and members of his family from relatives and friends, including several to and from Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950).

Source of supplied title proper: Title based on contents of fonds.
Immediate source of acquisition: The original collection of Homer Watson correspondence was donated by the Waterloo Trust and Savings Company, Kitchener, Ontario, in 1966. The second and third accruals were purchased by the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives from John Rush Books, Hamilton, Ontario in 1999 and 2000.
Related material: See Visual Resources database records for the collection for further information on the photographs.
Finding aids: Series level descriptions and box list available.

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Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into 3 series.
Series 1 - Correspondence, vol. 1, 1888-1943.
Series 2 - Correspondence, vol. 2, 1887-1936.
Series 3 - Correspondence, vol. 3, 1834, 1854-1869, 1889-1950.

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Index Terms

Names:
Watson, Homer, 1855-1936
Document Types:
Correspondence.
Exhibition invitations.
Minutes.
Photographs.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Title of item], Homer Watson fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.

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Contact Information

Cyndie Campbell
Head, Archives, Documentation and Visual Resources
Library and Archives
National Gallery of Canada
380 Sussex Drive
P.O. Box 427, Station A
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 9N4
 
T 613-990-0597
F 613-990-9818
 
ccampbel@gallery.ca 


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Series Level Descriptions

 

Correspondence, vol. 1. – 1888-1943. – 25 cm of textual records. 

Series consists of correspondence between Homer Watson and various individuals as well as correspondence between relatives, friends, and admirers of Homer Watson regarding his works. Letters between Watson and others typically discuss Watson's work, art sales, commissions and exhibitions in Canada and in England; clubs and societies of which Watson was a member (e.g., The Royal Canadian Academy, the Canadian Art Club, and the New English Art Club); Watson's ideas on art, spiritualism, and religion; Watson's family, friends and fellow artists (including Carl Ahrens (1863-1936), Franklin Brownell (1857-1946), Horatio Walker (1857-1958), William Brymner (1855-1925), and the Group of Seven); local politics and municipal affairs in Doon, Ontario; and Watson's health and financial matters. Letters between Watson's relatives, his friends and various other individuals typically solicit biographical information on Watson for publications or articles (including Muriel Miller's book, Homer Watson: The Man of Doon, 1938), request lectures, speeches or talks from Watson, or request pictures by Watson for various galleries. The fonds includes letters between Watson and the National Gallery of Canada, including correspondence regarding the British Empire Exhibition controversy (Wembley, 1923). Watson corresponded with such individuals as Sir Robert Borden (1854-1937), Sir Edmund Wyly Grier (1862-1957), Edmond Dyonnet (1859-1954), Percy Nobbs (1875-1964), Arthur Lismer (1885-1969), and William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950). The fonds includes posthumous correspondence between the artist's sister, Phoebe Watson, and various individuals regarding the preservation of Watson's papers as well as a section of Phoebe Watson's diary containing biographical information on her brother. 
Note: One letter includes a rough drawing of a tree next to a body of water on the verso.
Source of supplied title proper: Title based on contents of series.
Finding aids: Box list available.

See Box List for this Series

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Correspondence, vol. 2. – 1887-1936. – 15 cm of textual records and 4 photographs. 

Series includes letters written to Homer Watson by John Payne from 1887-1901 that discuss Watson's art and its sale and include various personal anecdotes. Also included are letters, mainly related to business matters, that were sent to Watson by artists, friends, collectors, and admirers. Among these are letters from Canadian artist F.M. Bell Smith (1846-1923); Montreal mining magnate and financier, James Ross; President of Canadian Pacific Railway, Sir William Van Horne (1843-1915); Canadian artist E. Wyly Grier (1862-1957); Canadian artist Horatio Walker (1857-1958); Canadian artist William Brymner (1855-1925); member of the committee to purchase pictures for the Vancouver Art Gallery, C.E. Stone; Canadian artist Arthur Lismer (1885-1969); National Gallery of Canada Director, Eric Brown (1877-1939); Canadian sculptor Frederick Lessore (1879-1951 ); Canadian painter Robert A. Gagen (1847-1926); Canadian artist Archibald Browne (1862-1948); British artist Sir George Clausen (1852-1944); Canadian artist, George A. Reid (1860-1947); Governor General of Canada, the Marquis of Lorne; Canadian artist, M.O. Hammond (1876-1934); Canadian architect J.W.H. Watts (1850-1917); Canadian portrait painter Andrew Dickson Patterson (1854-1930); Canadian artist C.W. Jefferys (1869-1951); Canadian artist John Sloan Gordon (1868-1940); Canadian journalist and art critic Newton McTavish (1875-1941); Canadian sculptor A.J. Clark; Canadian artist T. Mower Martin (1838-1934); Canadian artist W.E. Atkinson (1862-1936); former Prime Minister of Canada, Sir Robert Borden (1854-1937); Scottish artist Colin Hunter (1841-1904); Canadian artist Carl Ahrens (1863-1936); Canadian artist Robert Holmes (1861-1930); Canadian artist Gustav Hahn (1866-1962); and Canadian architect John M. Lyle (1872-1945). There are 5 letters in the collection from Homer Watson. The collection also includes 1 mounted photograph of architect J.W.H. Watts, 1 unmounted photograph of Watts, 1 mounted portrait photograph of Andrew Dickson Patterson, and 1 mounted photograph of Canadian artist James Wilson Morrice (1865-1924). Ballot papers and minutes for the Royal Canadian Academy of Art (1908; 1919; 1925; 1934), minutes of the Canadian Art Club (1911), receipts and a cheque, and a flyer for the Arts and Letters Club Annual Spring Review (1909) all form part of the collection. The collection includes an undated publication entitled Persian Art Photographs, which describes the art of colouring photographs. 
Source of supplied title proper: Title based on contents of series.
Finding aids: Box list available.

See Box List for this Series

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Correspondence, vol. 3. – 1834, 1854-1869, 1889-1950. – 10 cm of textual records. 

Included are letters to Watson or family members from the artist Carl Ahrens; Watson's former doctor, Dr. G.W. Bingham; Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (1933-1936); James Kerr Lawson and his wife Catherine; and Frances Payne, the wife of John Payne, Watson's dealer in Toronto. In addition to these are letters to Watson from Percy Nobbs, Edmond Dyonnet, E. Horne Russell, and letters to Phoebe Watson from various persons, including Archibald Browne, W. Wyly Grier, and Pearl McCarthy. The series also includes letters by Homer Watson sent to his sister Phoebe and others to addressed to Phoebe and Mary, Watson's adopted daughter. Other correspondence in the series includes letters from Roxa Watson to her sister-in-law, Phoebe Watson and to her mother-in-law, written while she and Homer were in England and Scotland; letters from Carl Ahrens to Frank Page, and letters from Walter McRaye to Frank Page, which contain several references to their mutual friend, Carl Aherns. In addition to correspondence the series contains printed invitations to Watson exhibitions at the Jenkin's Art Galleries, Toronto in 1920 and the J. Merritt Malloney Gallery, Toronto in 1932; three original thank you cards with floral decorations by Phoebe Watson signed by Homer Watson; a quantity of cheques signed by Watson; and some genealogical material related to the Watson family.
Source of supplied title proper: Title based on contents of series.
Finding aids: Box list available.

See Box List for this Series

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Detailed Description of the Collection


Box List

Series 1 - Correspondence, vol. 1 

Box Folder
Box 1 File 1 Donation of correspondence
File 2 Information on correspondents
File 3 Admiralty House
File 4 Carl and Madonna Ahrens
File 5 American Art Publishing Co.
File 6 W.E. Atkinson
File 7 Baker
File 8 H.M. Balfour
File 9 M.E. Becker
File 10 Right Hon. Richard Bennet
File 11 Alice Biggs
File 12 Dr. Bingham
File 13 Right Honourable R.I. Borden
File 14 H.W. Bromhead
File 15 Archibald and Helen Browne
File 16 W.P. Bull
File 17 Canadian and American Art Exchange Ltd.
File 18 Canadian Art Club
File 19 Canadian Life Assurance Co.
File 20 C.N.R. and postal service
File 21 Carroll Galleries Ltd.
File 22 James Carter
File 23 H. Charlesworth
File 24 Chief of Police, Kitchener
File 25 Alf Clare
File 26 H. Cranston
File 27 R.L. Defries
File 28 Doon Pressby
File 29 Dougall
File 30 H.A. Drummond
File 31 Edgar Palham
File 32 Mrs. M.L. Fairbairn
File 33 J.W.L. Forster
File 34 Thomas W. Fripp
File 35 "The Globe"
File 36 Hortense and John S. Gordon
File 37 Percy F. Grand
File 38 E.R. Greig
File 39 Sir Wyly Grier
File 40 Hart House, University of Toronto
File 41 N.W.J. Haydon
File 42 A.F.M. Hayward
File 43 Hon. George S. Henry
File 44 R. Holmes
File 45 Herbert Holt
File 46 Jackson & Co., Ltd.
File 47 Harry de Joannis
File 48 John Lyle
File 49 W.L. Mackenzie King
File 50 Mary E. King
File 51 Lectures for clubs, etc.
File 52 Arthur Lismer
File 53 Library and Art Union, Sherbrooke
File 54 London clubs and galleries
File 55 Norman Mackenzie
File 56 Richard C. MacLaunn
File 57 "The Mail and Empire"
File 58 James Mavor
File 59 R.S. McLaughlin
File 60 Walker McRange
File 61 Mickle and Armour, Barristers
Box Folder
Box 2 File 1 Miscellaneous
File 2 Edmund Morris
File 3 Frank Moss
File 4 J.Y. Murdoch Esq.
File 5 John A. Nash
File 6 National Archives
File 7 National Art Gallery
File 8 Frank Newby
File 9 Ontario Secondary Teacher's Association
File 10 Ontario Society of Artists
File 11 Dickson Patterson
File 12 John Payne
File 13 John Pedder
File 14 Charles Porteous
File 15 Progressive Thinker
File 16 J.H. Radike
File 17 Reeve, Township of Waterloo
File 18 "The Reporter"
File 19 Robert C. Vose
File 20 J.K.L. Ross
File 21 James Ross
File 22 Rous and Mann, Ltd.
File 23 Royal Canadian Academy
File 24 Royal Society of Artists
File 25 Ryerson Press
File 26 "Saturday Night"
File 27 W. Scott and Sons
File 28 James Spooner
File 29 Stone
File 30 "The Telegram"
File 31 C.S. Walters
File 32 "Aunt Phoebe's Diary"
File 33 Waterloo County Grand
File 34 Roxa Watson
File 35 Phoebe Watson
File 36 James Wheatly

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Series 2 - Correspondence, vol. 2 

Box Folder
Box 3 File 1 Letters from John Payne, 1887-1888
File 2 Letters from John Payne, 1889-1890
File 3 Letters from John Payne, 1891-1892
File 4 Letters from John Payne, 1893-1894
File 5 Letters from John Payne, 1895-1896
File 6 Letters from John Payne, 1899-1901
File 7 Photographs
File 8 Carl Ahrens
File 9 Art Gallery of Ontario
File 10 Edwin Atkinson
File 11 F. Bell-Smith
File 12 Robert Borden
File 13 W.H. Bowlby
File 14 The British Empire Club
File 15 Eric Brown
File 16 Archibald Browne
File 17 William Brymner
File 18 Canadian Almanac
File 19 A.J. Clark
File 20 Sir George Clausen
File 21 Henry Fabien (Indian Affairs)
File 22 Francis Firth
File 23 W. Sherwood Fox
File 24 Robert Gagen
File 25 E. Wyly Grier
File 26 Gustave Hahn
File 27 John Gordon Hamilton
File 28 M.O. Hammond
File 29 R. Holmes
File 30 Herbert S. Holt
File 31 Colin Hunter
File 32 Alex Hutchison
File 33 Aemilius Jarvis
File 34 Samuel Jones
File 35 P.G. Konody
File 36 John M. Lyle
File 37 Frederick Lessore
File 38 Arthur Lismer
File 39 Marquis of Lorne
File 40 T. Mower
File 41 Colonel Charles McCullough
File 42 Newton McTavish
File 43 Ontario Agriculture College
File 44 Hubert Palmer (Ontario Society of Artists)
File 45 Dickson Patterson
File 46 R.J. Reade
File 47 G.A. Reid
File 48 R.H. Roberts
File 49 James Ross and Commander J.K.L. Ross
File 50 Royal Canadian Academy of Arts
File 51 Ryerson Press
File 52 J. Whitfield Scott
File 53 James Spooner and John Payne
File 54 C.E. Stone
File 55 Sir William van Horne
File 56 Horatio Walker
File 57 Phoebe Watson's china painting business
File 58 S.E. Weir
File 59 "Who's Who and Why"
File 60 J.W.H. Watts
File 61 Frank Yeigh
File 62 Ontario Society of Artists. Annual Report 1931.
File 63 Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Ballots and minutes
File 64 Canadian Art Club
File 65 Arts and Letters Club
File 66 Receipts and finances
File 67 "Persian Art of Coloring" publication
File 68 Miscellaneous

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Series 3 - Correspondence, vol. 3 

Box Folder
Box 4 File 1 Carl Ahrens, 1929-1935
File 2 Letters from Dr. G.W. Bingham to Roxa Watson and to Homer Watson, 1910-1914
File 3 William Lyon Mackenzie King, 1933-1940
File 4 Frances Payne, 1919-1920
File 5 Letters from Catherine Kerr-Lawson and James Kerr-Lawson to Homer, Roxa, and Phoebe Watson, 1890-1950
File 6 Letters from Carl and Madonna Ahrens to Frank Page, 1934-1937
File 7 Letters from Walter McRaye to Frank Page, 1913, 1933-1936
File 8 Letters to Phoebe Watson from various, 1913, 1930-1940
File 9 Letter from Phoebe Watson to Frank Page, 1940
File 10 Letters from Roxa Watson to Homer's sister Phoebe and mother, 1887-1889
File 11 Letters to Homer Watson from various, 1921-1923, 1930-1935
File 12 Letters from Homer Watson to various *note: one letter is dated 1935; the remaining fourteen letters are undated
File 13 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1932-1940
File 14 Miscellaneous documents, 1834, 1854-1869, 1889-1935
File 15 Exhibition notices and catalogues, 1920-1936

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