Fonds LA.SC117 - David Brown Milne fonds

Identity area

Reference code



David Brown Milne fonds


  • 1899-1975 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

781 sketches
100 watercolours
87 cm of textual records
34 photographs
5 sketchbooks
1 easel
1 paint box

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.

Archival history

Material in this fonds was inherited by David Milne, Jr., who donated it to the AGO.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

AGO Credit Line: Gift of the Milne Family Collection, 2009.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of the personal and professional records of David Brown Milne, including correspondence with friends, patrons, family and his dealer; diaries and similar writing; documentation of Milne’s military service; designs for Canadian flags; cancelled watercolours; sketches and sketchbooks.
Contains series:

  1. Correspondence sent by David Milne, including drafts of letters
  2. Correspondence received by David Milne
  3. Diaries and other writings by David Milne
  4. World War I documents
  5. Douglas Duncan and Picture Loan Society documents
  6. Maps of potential painting locations
  7. Publicity material
  8. Documents relating to Vera Parsons and 1963 court case
  9. Canadian flag drawings and designs for Studio Magazine cover
  10. Cancelled watercolours
  11. Baptiste Lake sketchbooks
  12. Personal effects
  13. Sketches

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


No further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

The series arrangement is based on material, functional and thematic groupings of records.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open. Access to the Special Collections is by appointment only. Please contact the reference desk for more information.

Conditions governing reproduction

David Milne’s copyright in this fonds is maintained by the David Milne estate. Copyright belonging to other parties, such as that in received correspondence or photographs, may still rest with the creator(s) of these items. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish any part of the fonds.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Originals of letters to David Milne from James (“René”) Clarke are to be donated to Library and Archives Canada.

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Library and Archives Canada has an extensive David Brown Milne Fonds.

The David Silcox-David Milne Collection, also at this repository, contains the research records for the publication David B. Milne: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings (University of Toronto Press, 1998), including photocopies of much of Milne’s correspondence.

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Art Gallery of Ontario

Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail


Dates of creation revision deletion



  • English



Archivist's note

Prepared by Amy Marshall Furness and Blythe Koreen, 2008
Uploaded and adapted by Nirvana Chainani, 2019.

Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places