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Frederick M. Bell-Smith, Vermilion Lake, Banff, North West Territories

Frederick M. Bell-Smith (1846-1923), Vermilion Lake, Banff, North West Territories (1887), watercolour on paper [The Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford BC, Oct 21-Jan 9]

Vistas: Artists on the Canadian Pacific Railway

The Reach Gallery Museum
Abbotsford BC – Oct 21, 2010-Jan 9, 2011

British Columbia was encouraged to join Canada in 1871 with the promise of a coast-to coast railroad built by the Canadian Pacific Railway. As general manager and later president of the CPR, William Van Horne invited numerous prominent painters, writers and photographers to take the railway to British Columbia and document the majestic scenery. Many of the artists were founding members of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Van Horne provided free rail passage, temporary railcar studios, accommodation at the new chalet-style mountain lodges, and promotion of their work at international exhibits.

Vistas: Artists on the Canadian Pacific Railway is a selection of 95 artworks and photographs created during this period. Organized by the Glenbow Museum and curated by Roger Boulet, the exhibit portrays the history of the Canadian Pacific Railway as it developed through the Rocky Mountains and the Selkirks and its impact on the social and economic development of Western Canada.

The Western landscape was interpreted as a symbol of the potential of the new Canadian confederation. The images were instrumental in forging a sense of national identity. Writers waxed lyrical about the area, describing it as “the country of the gods”. The CPR provided a special car to photographers who came to record the completion of construction of the railway in 1886. Artists in the Canadian Pacific Railway Pass Program included Frederic Bell-Smith, William Brymner, Oliver B. Buell, John Arthur Fraser, Robert Gagen, John Hammond, Thomas Mower Martin, William McFarlane Notman and Lucius O’Brien.

www.thereach.ca

Mia Johnson

Robert F. Gagen, Evening in the Selkirks

Robert F. Gagen, Evening in the Selkirks (1900), Collection of Glenbow Museum [The Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford BC, Oct 21-Jan 9]

William M. Notman, Kicking Horse Lake Looking East, Hector on Canadian Pacific Railway

William Notman, Workers on the Canadian Pacific Railway Line, British Columbia (c. late 1880s), photograph, courtesy: Glenbow Archives [The Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford BC, Oct 21-Jan 9]


 Mon, Nov 8, 2010