Roberts Gallery was established in 1842 and in its 180 year history it has been owned by three families. In 1948, Sidney Wildridge acquired and relocated the Roberts Gallery at 759 Yonge Street. It had been owned by the Roberts family since 1870 and was a reputable gallery dealing in British, European and Canadian art and produced high quality frames.
Only a few years later, Jack Wildridge joined his father at the gallery and by the mid 1950s, after Sidney’s passing, he was the sole owner and director. Jack met many of the top Canadian artists in the Toronto art scene and changed the gallery’s focus to Canadian art by the late 1950s. The gallery then moved to 641 Yonge Street in 1961 where it would remain for the next 50 years.
Paul Wildridge joined his father Jack in 1978, until he passed in 1991. Charlene joined her husband Paul and they have since worked together for over 30 years. In 2012 their daughter Allie joined the ranks, with their son Tom following suit two years later. That makes four generations of Wildridges over the past 75 years. We have now moved to our new home at 631 Dupont, the gallery’s 6th location in its history, and look forward to many years in this wonderful neighbourhood.
Perhaps the most important step for the gallery came when A. J. Casson made Jack Wildridge his exclusive dealer. The support and trust of Mr. Casson cannot be overstated as to the credibility he gave Jack as a young dealer and Roberts Gallery as an important gallery for artists to consider.
“In 1972, Mr. Casson presented this coat of arms to our family as a Christmas gift along with the explanatory legend. He then used the crest in designing our letterhead for the Gallery.”
– Paul T. Wildridge
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. Gallery moves to 759 Yonge Street and is reopened with an exhibition of paintings by Peter Haworth.
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 641 Yonge Street 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 year birthday of A.J. Casson.
2003 9th annual Sketches featuring selected work from Goodridge Roberts.
2005 Special exhibition for the 80th anniversary of the Canadian Society Of Painters In Water Colour.
2006 40th anniversary of John Gould at Roberts Gallery.
2008 60th anniversary of the Wildridge family owning Roberts Gallery.
2013 John Gould Memorial Exhibition.
2014 Began representing the Estate of Jack Bush, for the early and transitional period of his work. 60th anniversary of the Painters Eleven’s first exhibition held at Roberts Gallery.
2017 Roberts Gallery celebrates 175 years in business and 75-55-35 RFM McInnis Exhibition.
2019 Move off of Yonge Street to Campbell Avenue (temporary location).
2020 Move into 631 Dupont Street.
2023 Wildridge family celebrates 75 years of Roberts Gallery ownership.