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Astonishingly Alluring Acquisitions

Updated: May 31, 2021

By Anne Ewen, Chief Curator of Art and Heritage

Back to The Cairn

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