Fonds LA.SC007 - Edmund Morris fonds

Identity area

Reference code



Edmund Morris fonds


  • 1897-1913 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

16 cm of textual records

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Edmund Montague Morris (1871-1913) was a Canadian portraitist, landscape painter and author. Born in Perth, Ontario, he studied in Toronto privately as well as at Toronto Art Students’ League 1889-91, and in New York at the Art Students’ League, 1891-92. Between 1893 and 1896 Morris was a student at the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He returned to Toronto in 1896 to set up a studio and became involved in art societies, including the Royal Canadian Academy (ARCA [associate] 1898), the Ontario Society of Artists, and the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto. A founding member of the Canadian Art Club in 1907, he was its secretary for several years. He was on the council of the Art Museum of Toronto—now the Art Gallery of Ontario—from 1909. Beginning in 1906 Morris produced the works for which he is chiefly known, portraits in pastels of Canadian aboriginal leaders. Many of these, executed during extensive travel in the Canadian West, were done on commission from the governments of Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan to be hung in provincial legislature buildings. Morris also painted landscapes, especially of scenes along the St Lawrence River in Quebec. It was while working at Portneuf near Quebec City that he drowned in August 1913. He is buried in Toronto. His work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa) the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto) and other galleries, especially in Western Canada.

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Administrative history

The Canadian Art Club was a Toronto-based exhibiting society active from 1907 to 1915. The club brought together the work of most of the leading Canadian painters and sculptors of the day, largely from Toronto and Montreal but also from abroad, for its annual exhibitions. It was formed by seceding members of the Ontario Society of Artists who rejected what they perceived as that group’s parochialism and low artistic standards. Among the founding artist members were W.E. Atkinson, Archibald Browne, Franklin Brownell, Edmund Morris, Homer Watson (first president of the club) and Curtis Williamson. The artists were soon supported by a considerable number of members who were not artists (referred to as ‘lay members’ in documents). Part of the club’s purpose was to encourage expatriate Canadian artists, such as J. W. Morrice and Clarence Gagnon, to associate with the club and to exhibit in Canada. It succeeded in affording sympathetic reception in Toronto for prominent Quebec artists of the time, like Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté. After the death in 1913 of Edmund Morris, honorary secretary and chief organizer, the club declined amid disputes between members until it ceased to function in 1915. The Canadian Art Club was formally dissolved about 1933.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The material forming the Edmund Morris fonds was donated by H.M. Smith, July 10, 1943.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists chiefly of correspondence to Edmund Morris as an artist and as secretary of the Canadian Art Club, Toronto (extant 1907-1915). Materials relating to the art club were received predominantly between 1906 and 1913 and deal with the membership of the club, with artworks and with art publications. Correspondents include artists Peleg Franklin Brownell, Edmond Dyonnet, Clarence Gagnon, James Kerr-Lawson, Ernest Lawson, James Wilson Morrice, Alexander Phimister Proctor, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Côté, Horatio Walker, Homer Ransford Watson and poet Duncan Campbell Scott. Also included are letters written by Edmund Morris himself and a few received by other members of the art club. The approximately 800 items were originally in two letter-binders. Although most of the items are letters, the fonds also comprises exhibition notices, invitations, newspaper and journal articles, lists of artists and artworks, price lists, illustrations, prospectuses, lists of subscribers for memorials (etc.), invoices, as well as miscellaneous items such as visiting cards, envelopes, an abstract of land title, a telegram and a cancelled cheque.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


No further accruals are expected.

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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Researchers are requested to use the microfilm copy of this fonds; access to the original requires the permission of the Archivist. Access to Special Collections is by appointment only. Please contact the reference desk for more information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Material in this fonds is in the public domain. Permission of the Art Gallery of Ontario is required for publication.

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Finding aids

An inventory and index of the fonds is available.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

A microfilmed copy of the fonds is available.

Related units of description

Further correspondence to and from Edmund Morris (over 150 letters) may be found in the Canadian Art Club fonds (LA.SC009), Series 13.

Notes area


Includes coloured illustrations and picture postcards.


Most of the items in the fonds were originally pasted onto pages of two scrapbooks or letter-binders. The pages (34 x 22 cm) are now detached from the bindings and enclosed in 18 acid-free folders housed in two archival boxes. Several items are loose.


The pages taken from the original binders are numbered I-1 to I-164 for Volume I and II-1 to II-168 for Volume II.

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Physical storage

  • Box: Boxes 1, 2