Series LA.SC154.S6 - Norval Morrisseau files

Identity area

Reference code



Norval Morrisseau files


  • 1962-1981 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

22 cm of textual records
7 drawings
4 prints

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Jean-Baptiste Norman Henry Morrisseau (1931–2007), known primarily as Norval Morrisseau, was a Canadian Anishinaabe painter and printmaker who signed his work with his Ojibwa name “Copper Thunderbird.” A self-taught artist, he was born at Sand Point reserve near Beardmore, Ont. At the age of six, he was sent to a Roman Catholic residential school for two years, after which he attended a local community school. In 1957, he married Harriet Kakegamic (1935–1995) with whom he had several children. They lived in the Red Lake area and elsewhere in northwestern Ontario. In later years, the artist stayed in Nanaimo, B.C.
In a manner known as the Woodland Style he is known for initiating, Norval Morrisseau painted in thick black outlines and bright colours, basing his images on Anishinaabe cultural sources and Christian symbols. Several of his earliest solo exhibitions were held at the Pollock Gallery, with which he was associated until the gallery closed in 1981. In 1978, Norval Morrisseau was made a member of the Order of Canada. He was also a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the Professional National Indian Artists Incorporation (“Indian Group of Seven”). He retired from painting in 2002.
Norval Morrisseau died in Toronto in 2007. His works are in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ont.), the McMichael Canadian Collection and other public art museums in Canada.

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Administrative history

The Pollock Gallery (active 1960–1981), was a commercial art gallery in Toronto established by art dealer, author, art educator and painter Jack Pollock. First located at 205 Elizabeth St in downtown Toronto in 1960, the gallery initially represented Canadian artists, most notably Norval Morrisseau. In 1966, the gallery showed works by the Hungarian-Canadian painter Julius Marosan. Later, works by British and American and other artists were exhibited, including those by David Hockney, Willem de Kooning, Anni Albers and Dieter Roth.
Within a year, the gallery relocated to 201 Elizabeth St (1961–1963), then 599 Markham St (1963–1971, with another site at 604A King St West 1966–1968), 356 Dundas St West (1972–1975, with another site at the Toronto Dominion Centre 1972–1973), and lastly 122 Scollard St in the Yorkville area of Toronto (1975–1982, with another site, 209 Adelaide St East 1980–1983). During its years of activity, the gallery employed Brian A. Marshall Schieder, Philip Ottenbrite (assistant director), Eva Quan, Frank Costin, Laurie Payne (graphic director), Helen Boyd, Renya Onasick (advertising and publicity), Lawrence Hurst (gallery administrator), Stephen Long (librarian) and others. Within months after Jack Pollock became chronically ill, the main gallery officially closed in December, 1981; the Pollock Gallery went into bankruptcy in 1983.

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Content and structure area

Scope and content

Series comprises an essay, drawings, and prints by Norval Morrisseau; correspondence, interview transcripts, exhibition records and clippings; and other material.

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Conditions governing access

Access to certain files in this series is restricted for a period of 50 years from the date of the document. See file descriptions for details.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English
  • French

Script of material

Language and script notes

Chiefly in English with some material in French.

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Related units of description

Records of Norval Morrisseau are held by the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives (Ottawa) in its Paul and Mary Okanski fonds; and by Glenbow Archives (Calgary, Alta.) in its Norval Morrisseau fonds.
Publications by Norval Morrisseau, including Legends of my people, the great Ojibway (Toronto : McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1965) are in the collection of the AGO library.

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