February 28, 2014
Now here’s a milestone. Tomorrow marks the sesquicentennial (150!) birthday celebration of Florence Helena McGillivray, one of Whitby’s most famed historical artists! She was born March 1, 1864 on a farm at the corner of Taunton and Lakeridge Roads. In the early 1900s she taught at what is now Trafalgar Castle School.
McGillivray travelled to France in 1913 to further her art studies, where she came under the influence of Impressionism and Fauvism. She actively exhibited her work while there, before returning to Canada in 1914 on the eve of WWI and settling in Ottawa. Continuing to actively pursue her career as an artist, she was elected a member of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1917, and became an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1925. She retired to live in Toronto in the 1930s, where she died in 1938. Her paintings are represented in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Many believe that she taught Tom Thomson as trick or two about painting. Happy Birthday, Florence!