Roberts Gallery was established in 1842 and in its almost 170 year history it has been owned by three families. The Wildridges’ acquired the well established institution known as Roberts Gallery in 1948. Since the mid 1950’s, the gallery has specialized in Canadian Art and has had the honour of handling some of Canada’s best known artists.
To this day, the gallery handles only Canadian artists and represents an eclectic group from across the country.
Perhaps best known for their dealing in Canadian historical work, they currently have associations with the estate of John Gould, Arthur Shilling, Carl Schaefer, Franklin Carmichael and A.J. Casson to name a few. The current list of contemporary artists range from coast to coast and are as diversified as traditional landscape painters to mixed media abstract artists.
The gallery has been a fixture for over 50 years in its current location on Yonge Street in Toronto. It’s three floors of gallery space typically have one to three exhibitions on display and welcome the public into its low key professional setting. There is a new exhibit on display every 3 to 4 weeks throughout the entire year.
Along with its many solo exhibitions, the gallery annually hosts its Artists Choice show every January featuring new work from all its contemporary artists and its historical based “Sketches” exhibition every June.
Charlene and Paul Wildridge have directed the gallery for the past twenty plus years and continue to search for and introduce new up and coming artists. Many of the Roberts group show both nationally and with other top Canadian galleries and internationally in a variety of Art Fairs.
The name and label of Roberts Gallery has long since been associated with the finest in Canadian art and the honesty and integrity in which it deals.
Roberts Gallery Timeline
1842 – William Pell, a gilder from London, England, establishes an art gallery on King Street West in Toronto
1870 – Samuel E. Roberts, a fine arts dealer from Brighton, England, acquires the gallery from Mr. Pell, establishing Roberts Gallery
1880 – Percy Roberts, son of Samuel, became associated with his father in the business Roberts & Son. In 1892 Percy Roberts became sole proprietor.
1910 – Roberts & Son move from the original King Street West address to 729 Yonge Street.
1924 – Gallery moves to 29 Grenville Street.
1934 – Upon the retirement of Percy Roberts, the gallery comes under the direction of his eldest son, Guy Roberts.
1935 – Tom Roberts, brother of Guy Roberts, has his first solo show.
1948 – Roberts Gallery acquired by Sidney and Jack Wildridge.
1948 – Gallery moves to 759 Yonge Street and is reopened with an exhibition of paintings by Peter Haworth. At this point the gallery moves away from the European art focus and toward a Canadian Art focus.
1954 – Painters Eleven hold first exhibition at Roberts Gallery.
1955 – First solo York Wilson exhibition.
1956 – First solo Alan Collier exhibition.
1957 – First F.H. Varley exhibition
1958 – In conjunction with the Women’s Committee at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Roberts Gallery presents an exhibit of Quebec Artists.
1959 – First A.J. Casson exhibition.
First Goodridge Roberts exhibition.
First William Winter exhibition.
1960 – First Jean-Paul Lemieux exhibition
1961 – Roberts Gallery moves to its current 641 Yonge Street Location and opens with a Jean-Paul Riopelle exhibition
1962 – First Marjorie Pigott exhibition
1964 – December Choice Exhibition makes its first appearance evolving from the O.S.A Small Picture Show which had been an annual event.
1966 – First John Gould exhibition.
1968 – First Mackay Houstoun exhibition.
1969 – First Leonard Brooks exhibition.
1970 – First Peter Harris exhibition.
1971 – Roberts Gallery presents an Alfred Pellan solo exhibition. Franklin Arbuckle has first solo show.
1973 – The December Choice Exhibition becomes Artists Choice and appears as the first show of the New Year, a tradition still in practice today.
1980 – The Royal Canadian Academy celebrates its 100th Year and Roberts Gallery presents a group exhibition which features the gallery artists who are members.
1988 – Jack Wildridge celebrates his 40th year in business.
1992 – Roberts Gallery celebrates the distinction of being the oldest firm in the Dominion dealing in fine arts.
1995 – First annual Sketches show.
1998 – Special exhibition commemorating 100 years since the birth of A.J. Casson.
2003 – 9th annual Sketches featuring selected work from Goodridge Roberts.
2005 – Special exhibition for the 80th anniversary of the Canadian Association of Painters in Water-Colour.
2006 – 40th anniversary of John Gould at Roberts Gallery.
2008 – 60th anniversary of the Wildridge family owning Roberts Gallery.