Artist CV:COOMBS, E. Grace
Born in Hamilton, Ontario, her family moved to St. Catharines and later Gananoque where she attended school. There she received encouragement from a teacher who lent her a colour box and kept an interest in her painting throughout her career. She taught at a special school run by the Struden sisters which gave her valuable experience for her future vocation. When the Coombs family moved to Fort William she painted along the North Shore of Lake Superior. She studied at the Ontario College of Art for five years and graduated with her AOCA (1913-1918). She taught at Edgehill College, Windsor, N.S. and Havergal College, Toronto. She was appointed Assistant Teacher at the OCA and in 1921 became an Associate Instructor. She was elected Member of the OSA in 1928. She then studied at the New York School of Fine & Applied Art (1929) where she achieved the highest credits in Life Drawing and Commercial Art. She returned to Toronto where she became Instructor at the OCA. She was influenced in her painting somewhat by the Group of Seven. Her greatest individuality was reached in her flower studies. In these she was encouraged by Robert Holmes. Most of her flower studies were done at her summer home in the Parry Sound District at Ahmic Harbour where she found 150 varieties of wild flowers. She did murals on North American Indian legends for the National Museum of Canada, Ottawa. She worked in oils, water colours, pastels, charcoal, crayon, pen and ink and lithography. She illustrated Rambles of a Canadian Naturalist (1916) by T.S. Woods and The Brave Little People by Dorothy Campbell. She studied sculpture under Emanuel Hahn but discontinued this medium. She travelled widely and took part in many important group shows. Her work was exhibited in Toronto at Eaton's, Laing, Malloney and Mellors galleries and elsewhere. She is represented in the following collections: Women's Art Assoc., Owen Sound; St. Joseph's, Guelph; AEAC, Kingst., Ont.; HAG, Ont.; Sarnia Public Library; Alma College, St. Thomas; St. Hilda's College, Tor. and many private collections. She was a member of the OSA; FCA; Life Fellow, Intl. Inst. of Arts & Letters and other societies. She died in St. Catharines at the age of 97. At the time of her death she was survived by two sisters and two brothers: Miss Phyllis R. Coombs, Marjorie (Mrs. Harry E. Jenkins) and Maurice R. Coombs (all of Thunder Bay) and Roy E. Coombs of Ottawa.
Colin S. MacDonald
A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada