Arthur Alexander Drummond AWS was born in Toronto on May 28th, 1891. The first son of Alexander A. Drummond and his wife Mary (Reesor), his childhood was spent in and around the Toronto area. At the age of 11, in 1902, Drummond began his preparatory schooling at Upper Canada College. U.C.C’s Deer Park Campus, located at Avenue Road and St. Clair, was still a rural area North of Toronto at that time and within walking distance of his home. Drummond graduated from UCC in 1909 at the age of 19 and joined the Standard Bank of Canada (established in 1873, now CIBC).
His father’s position as Chief Inspector for Standard Bank made possible for Drummond to travel with him across Canada throughout his youth, acquainting him early on with the national landscape. He had drawn and painted from an early age and later on tutored privately with William Cutts ARCA, while attending evening classes at the Ontario College of Art several nights a week for over a decade.
While at OCA he became proficient in watercolour and oil and like many of the finest artists of his generation, studied under C.M. Manly, Emanuel Hahn, George Reid and J.W. Beatty. During this time he worked with many Toronto area artists of note, including as A.J. Casson, J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer and A.Y. Jackson all of whom would become members of the Group of Seven. For a brief period, Drummond and Jackson shared a studio space, but this relationship was short-lived. Jackson loved to talk as he worked while Drummond preferred silent focus.
Drummond was not only a painter but also an accomplished musician who became first violinist with the Symphony Orchestra of the Toronto Conservatory of Music (now the Royal Conservatory of Music, established in 1886). During his time in Toronto, he lived with his parents and family at 63 Inglewood Drive in Moore Park. They lived in the home built by the Moore family for whom the park is named. Drummond often used family members as subjects for his paintings — his brother Ken, his sister Ethel and his mother Mary. He also depicted some of Toronto area’s most recognizable locales, such as Toronto Island, the Scarborough Bluffs, and the Don Valley.
It was also during this period that Drummond exhibited his works to wide acclaim, winning the Brigden Scholarship for figure painting in 1919. Between the years 1918 and 1937, Drummond exhibited with esteemed societies such as the Royal Canadian Academy, the Canadian National Exhibition, the Ontario Society of Artists, the Art Association of Montreal, and the American Watercolor Society. The AWS invited him to become their first Canadian member in 1930, and awarded him their certificate of merit in 1962. The Art Association of Montreal awarded him the Jessie Dow prize in 1930 for his work in watercolour, and one of his watercolours was included in the 1967 Expo Exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art. His critical success, however, was not limited to North America; during the 1920’s and 30’s he garnered many favorable reviews in Parisian fine art magazines. He was renowned for his rendering of vivid autumn colour in the North.
Drummond continued with his artistic training and performances with the Toronto Conservatory Orchestra until 1923 when he left Toronto at the age of 32. He left to take the position of manager of the Standard Bank in Alton, Ontario in the township of Caledon. He remained in Alton until 1925 when he moved to Orono, Ontario, 75 kilometers East of Toronto. There he became a Standard Bank branch manager, and continued to paint at every opportunity.
In 1931 Drummond married Luella Buchanan of Mount Forest, Ontario. Luella had been a vocalist with the Toronto Conservatory of Music, and was principal of Orono High School from 1919 to 1929. Arthur and Luella spent vacations traveling through Eastern Canada and New England, or spent each August in a different cottage in the Ontario vacation areas of Muskoka, Haliburton and Parry Sound which offered Drummond fresh landscapes for sketching. It was in Orono in the 1930’s that he began to offer his work for sale from his home studio. He would continue to do so for over 40 years. Drummond’s life would carry on in this fashion until his retirement from his banking position in 1947, at the age of 56. At that point, was able to realize his dream of full-time painting and continued to do so with an undiminished passion and focus for the next 28 years. It afforded him abundant opportunities to select sketches done on site during the summer and fall to develop into finished canvases in his studio during the winter.
In 1975, two years before his death, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa organized a traveling retrospective of 55 Drummond works, spanning his entire career. He died in Orono in 1977, at the age of 85. Luella passed away four years later, in 1981. In 2002, a celebration of his career as a landscape painter was held at the Clarke Museum and Archives in Kirby, Ontario. The exhibition featured works loaned from thirty local collectors and many pieces from his family archive which presented other areas of his life’s work.
In addition to having sold his works from his home studio, Drummond’s paintings were available through “Muskoka Arts” in Gravenhurst, Ontario for over 20 years. His oils and watercolours can be found in numerous public and private collections not only in Canada, but around the world. Arthur Drummond’s estate is represented by Roberts Gallery in Toronto.
by Daniel Gallay for Roberts Gallery Limited
DRUMMOND, Arthur A.
Born in Toronto, the son of A.A. Drummond, banker and art enthusiast. From his earliest years he accompanied his father to art exhibits and auctions in Toronto. When he began to paint he was influenced by the work of Daniel Fowler and later Sir Alfred East and Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot. He attended Upper Canada College, Toronto and after graduation became a banker with Standard Bank of Canada (SBC later became CIBC). He worked at the Toronto offices of SBC from 1909 until 1923. He travelled across Canada on bank business and during his free time made many of his paintings. In Toronto he attended evening classes at the Ontario College of Art where he studied under William Cutts, C.M. Manly, J.W. Beatty and G.A. Reid. In 1919 he won the Brigden Scholarship at the College and other awards. During these years he worked as well with A.J. Casson, J.E.H. MacDonald and Arthur Lismer. He frequented the Arts & Letters Club. He did illustrations and cover designs for various publications. He was, as well, an accomplished musician and a violinist with the Toronto Conservatory Orchestra until his move to Alton, Ontario, to work for the bank there. He was a friend of Fred Challener and C.M. Manly and painted with Manly in the Conestogo area. In 1925 Drummond moved to Orono, Ontario, where he became manager of the bank and continued to paint in his spare time and was first violinist with the General Motors Symphony in Oshawa, Ontario. Through the years he had been exhibiting with the RCA and the AAM (MMFA) Spring exhibitions and in 1930 won the Jessie Dow Prize at the AAM for his water colour Bay of Quinte. In 1931 he married Luella Buchanan and their son Alex was born in 1935. In 1946 he retired from the bank and continued to paint in both water colour and oil. His landscapes were enhanced with his marvellous details of trees, water, flowers and sky. His favourite haunts were Muskoka and the Haliburton lakes. He was very skilled at figure painting but preferred landscapes for their feeling of space. He also combined figures in landscape as in his painting of Percé Rock with fishermen working on their nets along the shore of the Gaspé peninsula. He was one of Canada’s most skilled painters whose love of life was reflected in his exceptional work. He is represented in numerous private collections in Canada, U.S.A., Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. The Robert McLaughlin Gallery has his sketch for The Road to the Lookout, at Huntsville (c. 1971-72). A solo show of his work, spanning 63 years, was organized by Margot Samuel of the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, from March 25th to May 11th, 1975, then was shown at the Clarke Public Library in Orono and later the Bowmanville Public Library the same year. He was the only Canadian at that time to be elected full membership in the American Water Color Society.
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
1919 – The Brigden Scholarship for figure painting
1930 – The Jessie Dow Award for painting in watercolour (awarded through the Art Association of Montreal)
1930 – Elected member of American Watercolour Society (only Canadian member)
1962 – Awarded the Certificate of Merit by the A.W.S.
From 1918 until 1937, Drummond exhibited with the Ontario Society of Artists, The Royal Canadian Academy, the Art Association of Montreal, the Canadian National exhibition and the American Watercolour Society. International recognition of his talent is evident by the many highly favourable reviews in the Paris fine arts magazines of the 1920’s and ‘30’s of his various exhibitions. In 1975 he had a one-man, travelling exhibition of some 55 works spanning his career at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa. A retrospective of locally-collected paintings was exhibited at the Clarke Museum and Archives in Kirby, Ontario in the fall of 2002.
Home Studio – Orono, Ontario
Muskoka Arts – Gravenhurst, Ontario
Roberts Gallery – Toronto, Ontario