Collection LA.SC078 - David Silcox-David Milne collection

Identity area

Reference code



David Silcox-David Milne collection


  • 1953-1998, predominant 1980-1998 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

6.1 m of textual records
4,716 photographs
10 cm of cartographic material
4 cm of graphic material
58 computer disks

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

David Brown Milne (Burgoyne, Ontario 1882-Bancroft, Ontario 1953) was a painter and etcher; he is widely considered to be among the most outstanding Canadian artists. He worked as a schoolteacher before deciding to study painting in New York where, in 1903, he enrolled in the Art Students’ League. Milne supported himself through commercial artwork but actively and successfully developed his own painting, exhibiting five canvases in the famous Armory Show of 1913. His friends during this period included James (“René”) Clarke, with whom he maintained a correspondence for many years. In 1916, Milne and his wife Patsy (née May Frances Hagerty), whom he had married in 1912, left the city and settled in Boston Corners, New York. In late 1917 Milne joined the Canadian army as a private, and in 1918 was appointed as a war artist to record the locations of battles that had involved Canadian troops. Milne returned to Boston Corners in 1919, where he spent most of his winters until 1928, summering in the Adirondacks. He moved to Ottawa for one year in 1923, when the National Gallery of Canada bought six of his watercolours. In 1928, Milne moved permanently back to Ontario (he separated from his wife in 1933), spending extended periods of time alone in the wilderness regions north of Toronto. Palgrave, a short drive from Toronto, became Milne’s home from 1930 to 1933, and from 1933 to 1939 he lived in a cabin on Six Mile Lake near Georgian Bay. He maintained an interest in the Toronto art scene and developed a small group of patrons including Alice and Vincent Massey, and Douglas Duncan of the Picture Loan Society, who acted as Milne’s agent and dealer for many years. He met his second wife Kathleen Pavey in 1938 and lived with her from 1939; their only child David Jr. was born in 1941. The Milnes lived in Uxbridge from 1940 to 1946. From 1947 Milne lived and worked at Baptiste Lake, with Kathleen and David Jr. joining him periodically. As Milne’s health deteriorated, the family moved to Bancroft to be closer to Baptiste Lake. Milne died at Bancroft in December 1953. His work is represented in numerous public collections, notably the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Name of creator


Biographical history

David Phillips Silcox (1937- ) is a Canadian art historian and arts administrator. He has held positions at the Canada Council, York University in Toronto, federal and Ontario culture ministries, the University of Toronto and other academic and cultural institutions. From 2001 to 2013 he was president of Sotheby’s Canada. David Silcox has written books on Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. His biography of Canadian artist David Brown Milne, Painting Place: the life and work of David B. Milne, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 1996. He is also co-author with David Milne Jr of the catalogue raisonné of Milne’s paintings, for which the David Milne Project was instituted. David Silcox was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2006.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Collection consists of David Milne Project administrative records created chiefly in the 1980s and 1990s in the Project office at Massey College in the University of Toronto for the purpose of producing a catalogue raisonné of the paintings of Canadian artist David Brown Milne (1882-1953). Collection also includes photocopied materials assembled for researching the artist’s life and works for a biography of Milne (1996) by David Silcox and the catalogue raisonné (1998) by his son David Milne Jr and David Silcox. The activity of the Milne Project ceased after the publication of the catalogue raisonné in 1998.
Milne Project administrative records (series 1 and series 21-40) document the steps taken in developing the catalogue raisonné. They begin in the late 1970s and include research forms created to organize and record data on Milne’s paintings for the two-volume work, files of correspondence, fundraising, financial, editorial/production, book launch, and marketing/publicity materials, some on computer disks; and records of Milne researcher Blodwen Davies.
Research material (series 2 to series 20) consists of photocopies made chiefly in the 1980s of primary sources such as David Brown Milne’s correspondence, essays, diary, autobiography and similar records from Library and Archives Canada, Milne Family records and other sources, and includes photocopied lists of paintings, records of the Picture Loan Society in Toronto and other art dealers and institutions relating to the sale and exhibition of Milne paintings; photocopied clippings from newspapers and magazines; and transcripts of recollections and interviews provided by David Brown Milne’s relatives and contemporaries.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


No further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access to material in Series 28 (Fundraising records) and Series 40 (Financial records) will require the written permission of the donor until January 1, 2024. Otherwise open. Access to Special Collections is by appointment only. Please contact the reference desk for more information.

Conditions governing reproduction

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

Language of material

  • English
  • French

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Includes 4687 photographic prints, 16 negatives (photographic), 12 slides (photographs) and 1 photographic transparency.

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Location of originals: A portion of the collection consists of photocopies of material from Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, the Milne Family papers and pages from publications.

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Library and Archives Canada holds records of David Silcox, chiefly from his employment in Ottawa as Assistant Deputy Minister (Culture).

The David Milne fonds (LA.SC114) contains records of David Brown Milne. The Douglas Duncan fonds (LA.SC095) contains records and photographs of the artist. The Photographs of Canadian Art collection (LA.SC039) contains copy prints of Milne paintings.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Conservation: Some of the collection was originally housed in 80 ring binders. In 2008, the contents of the binders were transferred to file folders and document boxes.


AGO credit line: Gift of David Silcox, 2000.


Variations in title: Previously known as the Silcox/Milne papers.


Source of title proper: Title of the collection is based on provenance. Titles of series are supplied and based on contents, while those of files are taken chiefly from binders in which their contents were originally stored unless otherwise indicated.


Statement of responsibility: Elizabeth Driver and Liz Wylie were Milne Project associates for the catalogue raisonné. No photographer is identified for photos in this collection.

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Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Description and finding aid prepared by Gary Fitzgibbon in 2008 and 2014.




Archivist's note

Uploaded and adapted by Nirvana Chainani, 2019.
Prepared by Gary Fitzgibbon, 2008/2014

Accession area

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