Franklin Arbuckle

Born in Toronto 1909
 / Died in Toronto 2001 - Estate Artist

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About the Artist

ARBUCKLE, Franklin (George Franklin Arbuckle)

Born in Toronto, Ontario, he attended the Ontario College of Art where he studied under J.W. Beatty, F.S. Challener, J.E.H. MacDonald and others. Following his graduation he was one of the few artists able to make a living from art-related work, the sale of his paintings, teaching at the Northern Vocational School, and summer classes at the Franz Johnston’s Art School at Georgian Bay.

With the war on, things became quiet in the art world and Arbuckle decided to work at commercial art. He was employed by Bomac Engravers for several years at Ottawa and Montreal but was able to return to freelance work in 1944. His special knowledge of historical subjects con­tributed greatly to his stature as an illustrator. Much of his knowledge was passed on to him by his friend and teacher, C.W. Jeffreys. His easel paint­ings are usually representational (landscapes, city scenes both with people), done in varying degrees of realism and impressionism. For many years his paintings appeared on the covers of Maclean’s, usually of people, revealing his sensitivity to facial expressions, striking a happy medium between cari­cature and realism.

He also did many illustrations for stories in Maclean’s including one memorable painting of a ship reproduced across two pages of the magazine for Joseph Schull’s story William Lawrence and his wonder­ful windjammer (1957). He has done hundreds of illustrations since, and several series of historical drawings and paintings including ill. for T.B. Costain’s The White and the Gold (1954); Great Canadians by Centennial Library, M&S (1967); Selwyn Dewdney’s They Shared To Survive, The Native Peoples of Canada (1975); also historical ill. for: Dow Chemicals; Distiller’s Corp.; Labatts Brewery; Hudson’s Bay Co. and others.

His murals include those for: Hamilton City Hall, Ont. (32 ft. high 1962); Shawinigan Water and Power Company, Que.; Ont. Prov. Govt. New East Block Bldg., Tor. (1969); C.P.R. Railway Car; designed for: The Royal Bank of Canada Building, King Street, Tor., two tapestries, 30 ft. by 19 ft., woven at Aubusson, France (1965); two tapestries for Chateau Champlain, Mtl. (1968) and others. Arbuckle supervised the weaving of his tapestries in Aubusson.

His solo shows include: Art Gal., Tor. (1940); Roberts Gallery, Tor. (1971) (1974) (1977) (1979) (1982) (1984) (1987) (1991); Wallack Galleries, Ott. (1978); Walter Klinkhoff Inc., Mtl. (1986) (1989), others. His awards include: two Jessie Dow Prizes, Mtl. Mus. Fine Arts Spring Shows (1946) (1947); four major prizes, Mtl. Directors’ Club; I.B.M. Medal; Centennial Medal; Canada Council Grant (1974), for book illustrations in Selwyn Dewdney’s They Shared to Survive.

As a member of the R.C.A. he exhibited with them continually and held office (ARCA 1936) (RCA 1945) (VPRCA 1959) (PRCA 1960-64). His artist-wife, Frances-Anne Johnston, daughter of noted artist Frank Johnston, died in 1987. The Arbuckles have two daughters, Robin (Mrs. Peter Quinlan) and Candace (Mrs. David Shaw). He is represented in the following collections: NGC, Ott.; AGO, Tor.; Imp. Oil Co., Tor.; Shell Oil, Tor.; Seagram Dist., Mtl.; I.B.M., Tor.; Can. Pulp and Paper Assoc.; Canadian Club, NYC; Canada Starch Corp.; Union Carbide of Can. Ltd. and in many private collections.

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

Studied at

Ontario College of Art 1928-30
Studied under F.S. Haines, Franz Johnston, J.E.H. MacDonald
J.W. Beatty & F.S. Challener


2005 - Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Artist's Residency, Taos New Mexico
2004 - Pouch Cove Artist's Residency, NL
2001 - Elected Member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA/ARC)

Professional Activities

Taught for many years at the Ontario College of Art: retired 1989
Continued to take many independent sketching trips to the east coast and various small Ontario communities.


Mural for City Hall - Hamilton
Mural for Shawinigan Water & Power Co. - Quebec
Mural for Canadian Pacific Railway
Design for tapestries for Royal Bank of Canada
Design for tapestries for Chateau Champlain - Montreal
Mural for New East Block, Ontario Parliament Buildings
Long series of historical illustrations for:
Hudson's Bay Company, Maclean's Magazine, Labatt's Brewery,
Distiller's Corporation, Dow Chemical


International Business Machines
Seagram Distillers Limited
National Gallery of Canada
DuPont Canada Inc.
GBB Associates Limited
Kilborn Limited
many other leading galleries & collections