I believe this post solves one of the great mysteries I’ve uncovered since starting Illustrated Vancouver. For the past year, I’ve been trying to track down the whereabouts of the S.P. Judge watercolours that once hung in the Union Steamship boardroom. Ironically, they may have been under my nose the entire time!
I first learned of these paintings from Gerald Rushton’s book Whistle Up the Inlet, the Union Steamship Story. In the final few pages of the book, he briefly mentions:
Captain Terry later sent me the water colour paintings of the early Union fleet done by S. P. Judge of the Vancouver Art School in 1905. They had hung in the board room and in my office, and it was a gesture I appreciated.
I’ve mentioned before that Gerald Rushton wrote the book on Union Steamship twice; actually, he may have written three or four, if you include this booklet from 1923, as well as the Personality Ships of British Columbia which contains his compact history of the Union Steamship Company of British Columbia.
I tried contacting his family to see if they recalled whether these paintings were handed down to someone, as I firmly believed these were significant enough to belong in one of our local museums. After speaking with Gerald Rushton’s grandson, he did recall some paintings, but he seemed to think they were taken to a Vancouver art dealer. That’s where the trail went cold for a while…until I made a return trip to the Maritime Museum!
There in front of me, hanging in their permanent collection, were two watercolours by S.P. Judge, one featuring the Union Steamship vessel the Capilano, and another featuring the Coquitlam (items 1991.188 and 1991.189). In fact, I had asked the museum months previously if they knew the whereabouts of these Union Steamship watercolours, but since they aren’t actually labelled “Union Steamship”, they were unaware of their existence. It was a big thrill to suddenly recognize what I had been looking for after nearly a year of searching! Clearly I should have been spending more time at the Maritime Museum!
The Union Steamship Capilano by S.P. Judge, 1905
I love the fact that doing art history research can sometimes make some fairly significant discoveries. Take for example, this mis-attributed Picasso that was donated by Raymond Leowy to a museum in Indiana which was discovered because a researcher was simply looking for the word “gemmaux”. …READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY>>>