Fonds LA.SC010 - George Agnew Reid fonds

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George Agnew Reid fonds


  • [188-]-1947 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

2.6 m of textual records and graphic material (2 scrapbooks)

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

George Agnew Reid (1860-1947) was a Canadian artist, architect, educator and administrator influential in the early 20th century and instrumental in the formation of a number of important Canadian art institutions. Born in Wingham Ontario to a Scottish farm family, he studied architecture and book-keeping at his father’s insistence. In 1878 he moved to Toronto to study art. He was able to extend his art education under Thomas Eakins in Philadelphia, where he met the painter Mary Heister. In 1888 the couple travelled to Europe and studied at the Julian and Colorossi Academies, returning to Toronto in 1889. The house he designed and built in Wychwood Park was his home until the end of his life. In 1890, George Reid began reaching at the Central Ontario School of Art and Design. He eventually became principal and researched new theories of art education in the United States and Europe. Under his direction, the art school became independent of the Board of Education and moved into its own building, which he designed, in 1921. He also served as its first Principal. In 1892, George and Mary Reid built two cottages from his design at the artist colony in Onteora, New York. This led to the design of other summer homes and a small church in the Catskills community. They spent summers at this location until 1917 when the war made travel to the United States difficult. In 1921 Mary Heister Reid died, and in 1923 George Reid married Mary Wrinch, a former student and close friend of his first wife. His later life was filled with accomplishments, including the painting of murals for public spaces in Toronto City Hall, Jarvis Collegiate, the Royal Ontario Museum and elsewhere. He was instrumental in obtaining permanent funding and staff for the National Gallery in Ottawa, and was a force behind the establishment of the Art Gallery of Toronto. He was a member of the RCA, serving as President 1906-1907. He influenced a generation of students, among them C.W. Jefferys, through his teaching and created a number of works that exemplify his generation, including Forbidden Fruit, Mortgaging the Homestead, and The Foreclosure of the Mortgage.

Archival history

The scrapbooks were given to the Library of the Art Gallery of Toronto in 1957 by George Reid’s widow, Mary Wrinch Reid. By 1980 three oil sketches, Nude Study, Mother and Baby and Head of a Woman had been removed, added to the permanent collection and replaced by photographs. In 1981 the rest of the oil paintings were removed and replaced by photographs. Further material was moved to the Canadian Historical Collection and exhibited in 1986. The remaining material is in the collection of the E.P. Taylor Research Library & Archives.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of two scrapbooks containing material created and collected throughout George Reid’s life and were compiled by him in the late 1930’s. Volume I, 500 pages, contains photographs and notes on the Reid family; drawings, sketches, etc., as well as press clippings and exhibition catalogues relating to works of art by Reid and his first wife, Mary Hiester Reid. The 131 pages of Volume II are devoted to designs for buildings and their interior fittings, including summer homes and a church at Onteora, New York, houses in Wychwood Park (Toronto) including the Reid house, and Ontario College of Art designs. Materials include drawings in pencil, pastel and ink, watercolour sketches, small oil paintings, blueprints, photographs, postcards, letters, texts of speeches, letters, awards and material clipped from magazines and newspapers.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


No further accruals are expected.

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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access to the original scrapbooks is denied to all users, due to their extreme fragility. A microfilmed copy was created in 1980 and is available from the Information Desk at the Library & Archives. Patrons are advised that photographs exists of some material, available through AGO Photographic Resources.

Conditions governing reproduction

Various copyright holders. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish any part of the fonds.

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Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

A microfilm copy is available from the Information Desk at the Library & Archives.

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Notes area


Scrapbooks include ca. 625 drawings on paper and linen, ca. 325 photographs, ca. 775 textual records, ca. 70 watercolours, ca. 10 oil paintings, and ca. 25 blueprints.


Volume I has been disbound and the material split into four boxes. Volume II remains intact.


Traditional title of this fonds is the George Reid Scrapbooks.


Art works removed from the scrapbooks are in the Art Gallery of Ontario Permanent Collection. A list of these items may be obtained at the Information Desk at the Library & Archives.

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