A 1936 Vancouver Golden Jubliee brochure featuring a scene from the Spencer’s 1927 murals.
This is the epic story of a forgotten art project that dates back to the time of Canada’s 50th 60th birthday celebration of Confederation, July of 1927. Allow me to briefly paint the backdrop to this story. The location: the newly renovated David Spencer department store in Vancouver (now the home of SFU Harbour Centre). The commission: a series of 10 historical paintings by two prominent artists of the day, John Innes and G.H. Southwell. What has become of these murals today? Read on…
The earliest account I have mentioning the murals at Spencer’s is the Tuesday, July 5, 1927 edition of the Vancouver Daily Province (page 22). The article gives notice of the upcoming unveiling of 10 paintings and is illustrated with this Vancouver Archives photo.
It describes how the pictures have been painted as part of Spencer’s commemoration of Canada’s Diamond Jubilee, and that they will remain on display on the main floor of the building as permanent wall decorations after the Jubilee celebrations. It’s my guess that the series of 8 historical paintings John Innes had completed a few years earlier helped to secure this commission.
This article also gives an indication of the scale of these paintings, citing four by eighteen feet (seems to be the dimensions of Captain Vancouver Exploring Burrard Inlet) as well as seven by eight feet (perhaps Simon Fraser’s Canoes Descending the Fraser River).
The day after the paintings were unveiled, another article appeared in the Vancouver Daily Province on Thursday, July 7, 1927 (page 7). This Vancouver Archives photo depicting Simon Fraser is shown hanging on the wall of the store, along with the President of UBC, the artists, and onlookers (page 24). …READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY>>>