TABLE OF CONTENTS

Collection Summary

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content

Index Terms

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Preferred Citation

Contact Information

Item Level Descriptions

Box List

National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives

Ruth Comfort Jackson fonds:

Finding Aid



Collection Summary

Title:Ruth Comfort Jackson fonds.
Dates:– 1975-1985.
Quantity: – 9 cm of textual records, 79 photographs, and 5 audio recordings.

Biographical Sketch

Ruth Comfort Jackson (1927-1998), daughter of Canadian artist Charles Comfort (1900-1994), began research for a prospective article on the life and work of Canadian artist Pegi Nicol MacLeod (1904-1949) in 1975. This was conceived of as a project to coincide with and complement the objectives of International Women's Year. Comfort Jackson was motivated to pursue this research because of her personal knowledge of Nicol MacLeod, whom Comfort Jackson was drawn to as a distinctively compelling and remarkable figure of her childhood recollections, and a significant artist whose contributions to Canadian art had been largely unexamined since the time of her death.

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Scope and Content

Fonds consists of materials related to the life and work of Pegi Nicol MacLeod that were compiled by Comfort Jackson over the course of her research for an uncompleted writing project on the artist. Included in the fonds are chronologies of Pegi Nicol MacLeod's life; photocopies and originals of press clippings, news references and exhibition records pertaining to Nicol MacLeod, as well as Comfort Jackson's notes on such materials; copies of and notes on Nicol MacLeod's letters to Harry McCurry during his tenure as Director of the National Gallery of Canada; and notes from the artist's letters to Madge Smith, Fredericton photographer and crafts/art dealer; and Montreal artist Marian Scott. Also present are documents relating to Comfort Jackson's development of the project, including notes on her childhood memories of Nicol MacLeod, essay drafts, and grant application materials. There is photographic documentation of Nicol MacLeod's work owned by Ruth Comfort Jackson and her husband Ray Jackson, along with slides of work held in the University of New Brunswick's collection and some additional private collections. There is also correspondence between Comfort Jackson and individuals who knew Nicol MacLeod in varying capacities, including Isa Austin, Lucy Jarvis, Will Ogilvie, and Margaret MacKenzie. Moreover, there is correspondence with Peter Carver and Laura Brandon that deals with Comfort Jackson's research and writing project, as well as correspondence with Moncrieff Williamson, as Director of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum, concerning the condition and preservation of a dismantled mural that had been painted by Nicol MacLeod at Woodstock Vocational school in 1941. Fonds also consists of records from Comfort Jackson's interviews on Nicol MacLeod, including hand written notes from sessions with Marian Scott, Molly Giblin, Margaret Forsythe, Florence Millman, Raleigh Parkin, and King Gordon; and audio recordings of Maud Brown, Erica Selfridge, Alison Ignatieff, and Humphrey Carver.

Source of supplied title proper: Title based on contents of fonds.
Immediate source of acquisition: Donated to the National Gallery of Canada, Library and Archives by Laura Brandon in 2006.
Physical description: Photographs include 47 colour prints and 32 colour slides.
Terms governing use and reproduction: Permission to reproduce or publish material from the Ruth Comfort Jackson fonds must be obtained from the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.
Related material: Related groups of records: Other records related to Pegi Nicol MacLeod can be found in the Laura Brandon fonds.
Finding aids: Box list available.

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Index Terms

Names:
Brown, Maud, 1881-1978
Comfort, Charles Fraser, 1900-1994
Comfort Jackson, Ruth, 1975-1985
Nicol MacLeod, Pegi, 1904-1949
Scott, Marian, 1906-1993
Document Types:
Audio recordings.
Clippings.
Correspondence.
Notebooks.
Photographs.

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Administrative Information

Custodial History

Laura Brandon, currently Art and War Historian at the Canadian War Museum, contacted Comfort Jackson during the early 1980s in regards to Brandon's own developing research project on Nicol MacLeod. In response, Comfort Jackson made her research files accessible to Brandon for consultation. Following Comfort Jackson's death, her family gave these records concerning Pegi Nicol MacLeod to Brandon. The records were donated to the National Gallery Library and Archives by Laura Brandon in 2006.

Preferred Citation

Ruth Comfort Jackson 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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Item Level Descriptions

Maud Brown interviewed by Ruth Comfort Jackson. – March 25, 1975. – 1 audio cassette (63 min.).
Brown and Comfort Jackson discuss a number of works by Pegi Nicol MacLeod previously in Brown's collection. Brown speaks of the 'railway' apartment that Nicol MacLeod inhabited in New York, and her paintings of the Women's Services during the Second World War. Brown also discusses how her husband, Eric Brown, first Director of the National Gallery of Canada, met Nicol MacLeod, Nicol MacLeod's parents, a Nova Scotia trip that the Browns took with Nicol MacLeod, some of her various interests, including music, drama, swimming, and skiing; the reaction of artists and critics to her work, and the Willingdon Arts Competition. Throughout the interview, Comfort Jackson recounts her memories of when Nicol MacLeod stayed with the Comfort family upon her move to Toronto, a number of works by Nicol MacLeod in her family's collection, the progress that Comfort Jackson has made in her research on Nicol MacLeod, the Woodstock mural, and a controversial mural painted by Comfort Jackson's father, Charles Comfort. Other individuals mentioned include Marius Barbeau, Franklin Brownell, Erica Selfridge, Jane (MacLeod) Pappidas, and Alison (Grant) Ignatieff.
Reference copy available.

Erica Selfridge interviewed by Ruth Comfort Jackson. – April 14, 1975. – 1 audio cassette (63 min.).
Selfridge speaks of Pegi Nicol MacLeod's relationship with her parents, how Selfridge came to know Nicol MacLeod, and their shared enthusiasm for poetry. There is some discussion of Nicol MacLeod's work in designing and creating hooked rugs, her daughter Jane (MacLeod) Pappidas, and the National Gallery of Canada exhibition on Canadian painting in the 1930s. Other individuals mentioned include Marius Barbeau, Duncan Campbell Scott, Maud Brown, Eric Brown, Emily Carr, Arthur Lismer, H.S. Southam, Dulcy Cranston, H.O. McCurry, and Lucy Jarvis.
Reference copy available.

Alison Ignatieff interviewed by Ruth Comfort Jackson, vol. 1. – October 8, 1975. – 1 audio cassette (25 min.).
Ignatieff speaks of Pegi Nicol MacLeod's manner of painting. She discusses New York in terms of Nicol MacLeod's apartment and her neighbourhood, as well as the financial difficulties and isolation that she faced there. Ignatieff recounts that at a party following Nicol MacLeod's first operation she expressed a feeling of rebirth with a renewed sense of colour. Ignatieff also discusses a particular incident involving the loss and retrieval of one of Nicol MacLeod's paintings. Other individuals mentioned include George Ignatieff, Pierre Trudeau, Lillian Freiman, Mary (Greey) Graham, Madge Smith, and Mike Pearson.
Reference copy available.
The recording of this interview begins 18 minutes into side B of the cassette.

Alison Ignatieff interviewed by Ruth Comfort Jackson, vol. 2. – March 29, 1976. – 1 audio cassette (76 min.).
Ignatieff speaks generally of Norman MacLeod's life after Pegi Nicol MacLeod's death, including his business pursuits and personal relationships. There is some related discussion between Ignatieff and Comfort Jackson of Jane (MacLeod) Pappidas. Ignatieff also discusses Pegi Nicol MacLeod's funeral and her difficult relationship with Norman MacLeod's mother, Nicol MacLeod's changed sense of colour and feeling of rebirth following an operation, her wedding, her capacity for life, her relationship with her parents, her broad interest in people, and political motivations during the 1930s. Ignatieff describes Nicol MacLeod's life in New York in relation to her desire for spontaneity, Jane MacLeod's schooling, the area in which they lived, her interest in galleries, and how she arranged and decorated her apartment. Other individuals mentioned include Marc Nichols, Charlie Hill, Marian Scott, George Ignatieff, Raliegh Parkin, Frank Scott, Ronnie McCall, Max Beckman, Eric Brown, King Gordon, Norman Bethune, and Lillian Freiman.
Reference copy available.
The interview is diverted at some points by unrelated, at times inaudible, conversation with other individuals.
There are sound quality problems with the recording.
The interview ends by cutting directly into an unrelated recording.

Humphrey Carver interviewed by Ruth Comfort Jackson. – February 10, 1976. – 1 audio cassette (47 min.).
Humphrey Carver speaks of Pegi Nicol MacLeod's approach to painting, a number of her paintings including a work owned by Carver, the social groups she mixed with in Montreal and Toronto, how he came to know her through his brother-in-law King Gordon, and her relationship with Norman MacLeod, including the circumstances of their marriage and Norman MacLeod's difficult personality. Carver also comments upon Nicol MacLeod's involvement in the Canadian Forum and her work at Eaton's for René Cera. Throughout the interview, Comfort Jackson discusses her project on Nicol MacLeod, her knowledge of Pegi Nicol MacLeod's relationship with Norman MacLeod, and Nicol MacLeod's involvement in founding the Observatory Art Centre in Fredericton. Other individuals mentioned include Jane (MacLeod) Pappidas, Charlie Hill, Molly Giblin, Dennis Giblin, Madge Smith, Paraskeva Clark, and Maude Grant.
Reference copy available.
There are sound quality problems with the recording due to background noise.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

Box List
Box Folder
Box 1 File 1 Charlie Hill's letter file of correspondence from Pegi Nicol MacLeod to Marian Scott 
File 2 Fredericton, Sackville and Pegi Nicol MacLeod's paintings, July-August 1975 *note: file contains 31 colour slides 
File 3 Interview notebook 
File 4 Notebook on Pegi Nicol MacLeod 
File 5 Charlie Hill's file on Pegi Nicol MacLeod 
File 6 Pegi Nicol MacLeod - Correspondence *note: file contains 2 colour photographs 
File 7 Pegi Nicol MacLeod - Dates/chronology 
File 8 Pegi Nicol MacLeod - Essay 
File 9 Pegi Nicol MacLeod - Journal 
File 10 Pegi Nicol MacLeod - Montreal interviews 
File 11 Pegi Nicol MacLeod - National Gallery file 
File 12 Pegi Nicol MacLeod - University of New Brunswick Library Archives 
File 13 Pegi Nicol MacLeod - Research at University of New Brunswick Library Archives 
File 14 Photographs of Pegi Nicol MacLeod *note: file contains 4 colour photographs and 1 colour slide 
File 15 Ray Jackson Estate *note: file contains 41 colour photographs 
Box Folder
Box 2 File 1 Maud Brown interviewed by Ruth Comfort Jackson, March 25, 1975 
File 2 Erica Selfridge interviewed by Ruth Comfort Jackson, April 14, 1975 
File 3 Alison Ignatieff interviewed by Ruth Comfort Jackson, vol. 1, October 8, 1975 
File 4 Alison Ignatieff interviewed by Ruth Comfort Jackson, vol. 2, March 29, 1976 
File 5 Humphrey Carter interviewed by Ruth Comfort Jackson, February 10, 1976 

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