This Week in History
Show Me Canadian History
For the week of Monday October 2, 2006
October 8, 1951, marked the end of the life of Charles William Jefferys, an artist who immortalized various facets of Canada. Born on August 25, 1869, in Chatham, England, to a businessman father with a passion for architecture, he emmigrated with his family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1875, later settling in Toronto in 1881. At a very early age Jefferys showed a talent for drawing, which was encouraged by his family.
At that time, Canadian landscape painters drew inspiration from the European style that bore little likeness to Canada’s wilderness. During an exhibition in Chicago, Jefferys saw works created by Scandinavian artists who painted landscapes similar to those in Canada. This discovery encouraged him to develop a style of painting that would better reflect Canada’s environment.
In addition to his illustrations, Jefferys painted a number of historical and scientific murals, including one for the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa and one for the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. He co-founded, co-chaired or was a member of numerous artists’ associations. He also taught drawing and watercolours at the University of Toronto’s School of Architecture.
Charles William Jefferys’ passion, talent and thoroughness led to his designation as a National Historic Person in 1954. His illustrations, which have graced Canadian history books for many generations of students, have become a familiar sight for thousands of us.
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