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Astonishingly Alluring Acquisitions

Updated: May 31, 2021

By Anne Ewen, Chief Curator of Art and Heritage

Our collections are the foundation of what we do; they are what makes us unique.

Exhibitions, research, events, and programs germinate from their content to inspire and enthrall our audiences. We compliment our collections with related loaned objects and memorabilia to create meaningful connections with our visitors.

Each new acquisition strengthens our reputation and significance, ensuring these assets gain widespread acclaim and use. Every year, the Whyte fields numerous requests for loans by other museums to augment their in-house or travelling exhibitions and also by researcher’s seeking quality materials from proven sources. The collections are fundamental to our engagement with our members and the many individuals we serve world-wide both in-house and online.

Rarely, if ever does one appreciate a pandemic, but in the case of the Covid lockdowns, some of our donors had the time to assess their collections empowering the Whyte to become the eventual recipient of some very exquisite treasures. While adhering to Covid guidelines and staff comfort levels, we were able to intake some items, while other articles are being held for us by their donors. For the Art and Heritage collections we were honoured to receive stunning artifacts, paintings, drawings, and sculpture from numerous sources and it is with sheer joy and gratitude that we accept these exceptional treasures.


Jan Crosby McGregor donated pipes with pipe bags that belonged to her maternal grandfather. Of them she recalled,

“My paternal grandparents were Lou and Gertrude Crosby and my maternal grandparents were Eva and Dr. G.M. Atkin, all of Banff. The pipes and bags have their connection with Grandad Atkin who was a doctor in Banff from 1905 until his death in 1969. During much this time he was also the doctor for the people in Morley, and was much loved by them for his help over many years. One personal memory I have of him is regarding the Morley Band. In about 1966 when we were at the Banff Indian Days, a Morley rider was injured. Despite the modern ambulance and medical attendants present, the voice over the loudspeaker kept asking, “If Dr. Atkin is in the audience, could he please come to the first aid tent. Grandad was then 89 years old, frail and nearly blind; he was not there, but the faith and need of his patients was still strong.”

Maker Unknown



leather; sinew; glass

67.0 x 14.0 c.m.

Collection of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Gift of Jan McGregor, Edmonton, 2020


Maker Unknown




47.5 x 16.5 c.m.

Collection of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Gift of Jan McGregor, Edmonton, 2020

103.08.1167 a,b


Robyn Fulton generously donated three exquisite Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) era paintings by Charles Jones Way (1835 – 1919, British), Thomas Mower Martin, R.C.A. (1838 – 1934, Canadian), and Edward Roper (1857 – 1891, British). We were first introduced to these remarkable paintings when they were loaned to us for the 2021 summer exhibition, Drawn to the West. While the focus of this article is on the Roper painting, that does not in any way diminish the historic value and pictorial excellence of the paintings by Way and Mower Martin.


The Sawback Mountains near Banff

1900 c

oil on board

15.5 x 33.5 c.m.

Collection of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Gift of Robyn L Fulton, 2021



The Fraser River at Yale BC

1900 - 0 c

watercolour on paper

52.0 x 75.5 c.m.

Collection of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Gift of Robyn L Fulton, 2021


Edward Roper was a painter and illustrator who visited Canada several times. This stunningly wonderful painting titled Revelstoke, Lower Town was produced during his last visit to Canada in 1887 and is indicative of his skill and technique. Roper was fascinated by western pioneer life and painted numerous canvases depicting settlement in the 1880s. His illustrated book By Track and Trail: A journey through Canada, published in 1891, provides a fascinating societal observations. A reference copy (02.4 R68) is held in the Archives library.


Revelstoke, Lower Town


oil on canvas

31.5 x 44.4 c.m.

Collection of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Gift of Robyn L Fulton, 2021



This immaculately preserved 1887 watercolour painting by Frederick Marlett Bell-Smith, R.C.A. (1846 – 1923, Canadian) is one of the masterpieces from the CPR era of painters, who came west between 1886 – 1914. Titled Hector Lake, Kicking Horse Pass, Bell-Smith was selected for the second year of the CPR’s free pass program which encouraged artists to travel west and capture the beauty of the region as a means of promoting tourism. On that same trip was Montreal photographer William McFarlane Notman (1857-1913, Canadian) who photographed Bell-Smith painting Hector Lake. The Whyte is genuinely thrilled to be the proud recipient of both the watercolour and photograph from Mark Cullen.


Hector lake, Kicking Horse Pass B.C., 1887

Watercolour on paper laid down on board

33.7 x 49.5 c.m.

Gift of Mark Cullen, Vancouver, B.C. 2021



Kicking Horse Lake Looking East, Hector on Canadian Pacific Railway, 1887

Silver salts, frosting on glass – gelatin dry plate process (original)

19.0 x 25.0 c.m.

Copy from McCord Museum – View-1646

Gift of Mark Cullen, Vancouver, B.C. 2021



The Dennis Burton (1933 – 2013, Canadian) portfolio of paintings directly relate to the book of poetry published by Jon Whyte in 1981 titled Homage, Henry Kelsey: a poem in five parts, a copy of which is held in the Archives Library (05.1 W62h). The image below is one of seventeen expressive items in this one of a kind donation from Katherine Govier.

Burton was born in Lethbridge and became an abstract painter after viewing an exhibition by Painter’s Eleven at Hart House in Toronto. He had numerous exhibitions and a number of important public commissions but he is best remembered for his Garterbeltmania series of females in their underwear.


Dear Jon


watercolour on paper

58.45 x 43.2 c.m.

Collection of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Gift of Katherine Govier, Toronto, 2020



Lois Green’s sculpture Window of Hope was exhibited in our 2019 summer exhibition Unbridled curated by D. L. Cameron. We were very pleased when Lois agreed to donate this descriptive bronze which is part of a series she worked on in 2013. The series traces her experiences following the wild horses and wolves who roam the lands at the foot of the Canadian Rockies. Because of human encroachment, these creatures are sadly at risk of extinction.

Of her work Lois commented:

“While the depiction of landscape in sculpture is relatively rare, it became an essential component in my work. I found expression in a series of low relief bronzes, progressively and collectively telling my story of the horses and wolves in the Ghost River wilderness area. As I rode through the forest on horseback my perception seemed to alter. From my raised vantage point, I could see with greater clarity and hear with heightened acuity and respond more sensitively to the changing plays of light and shadow.”


Window of Hope

2012 - 2012


23.5 x 24.5 c.m.

Collection of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Gift of Lois Green, 2021



The gift from the John Davenoll Turner estate reconnects the Whyte Museum with this wonderful artist and adds to the work previously registered in the collections. A proficient landscape painter and charming humourist, the Peter Whyte Gallery hosted the very popular exhibition John Davenoll Turner: The Artful Codger in December 1978.

In addition to his own art practice, Turner and his wife Grace established the Canadian Art Galleries in Calgary in 1945, a risky enterprise at the time but one they managed for 20 years. It was the first commercial gallery in Calgary and the only one in Canada with the sole purpose of only promoting Canadian artists. As a result, it was an admired destination for artists and art connoisseurs. In the Archives are articles, correspondence, and publications pertaining to John Davenoll Turner.


Untitled [Bears in Campsite]


ink; watercolour on paper

50.0 x 64.0 c.m.

Collection of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Gift of John Davenall Turner (Estate), 2020



One final delight was the arrival of the Thomas Fripp watercolour purchased at auction and donated by Rod Green. A third generation watercolourist, Fripp spent much of his career in Vancouver. Among his many accomplishments and involvements, Fripp along with Emily Carr and others, established the British Columbia Society of Fine Arts in 1909, becoming the first chartered art society in the province. Fripp’s watercolour demonstrates his mastery in the handling of this very difficult artistic medium.


Mt. Stephan, B.C.


38 x 51 c.m.

Gift of Rod Green, 2021



Jim and Dorothy McLeod donated these three charming historic watercolours by artist C. Firth depicting early scenes of the area. Titled Silver City and Castle Mountain, BC, 1887, Banff Springs Hotel, Rocky Mountains, 1887, and Bow River, NWT, 1887 the artist’s identifications are curious. Firth is correct in identifying the Banff scenes as residing in the North West Territories since Alberta did not officially become a Province until September 1, 1905. But it is curious to note the incorrectly stated B.C. location of Castle Mountain. At present, we have no information about the artist and would greatly appreciate help in determining the life this individual.

C. Firth, Silver City and Castle Mountain, B.C., 1887

watercolour, 12 x 15.4 c.m., Gift of Jim and Dorothy McLeod

C. Firth, Banff Springs Hotel, Rocky Mountains, 1887

watercolour, 12 x 16 c.m., Gift of Jim and Dorothy McLeod

C. Firth, Bow River N.W.T., 1887

watercolour, 11.8 x 16 c.m., Gift of Jim and Dorothy McLeod

Finally, thank you to the Canadian Art Gallery, Canmore, Masters Gallery, Calgary, and the Uno Langmann Fine Art Gallery, Vancouver who continually offer their expertise and ongoing helpful assistance.



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