Fred Haines

Born in Meaford, Ontario, March 29, 1879
 / Died in Thornhill, Ontario, November 21, 1960

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About the Artist

HAINES, Frederick Stanley


Born at Meaford, Ontario, he attended the Meaford High School. He had an early ambition to become an artist and in 1896, when he was seventeen, he went to Toronto. He had sufficient talent even then to paint portraits for a travelling dealer and was able to make enough money to finance his studies at the Central Ontario School of Art under G.A. Reid and William Cruikshank. He first exhibited with the Ontario Society of Artists in 1901 and in 1906 was elected a member of this society. He travelled to Belgium in 1913 where he studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux Arts, Antwerp, under Juliaan de Vriendt and was awarded a gold medal in figure painting. He was mentioned the same year in the publication Canada and Its Provinces, Volume 12 under, Painting by E.F.B. Johnston as follows, “. . . Fred Haines . . . paintings of animals show knowledge and strength of execution. . . .”

In 1919 he became an associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy and started making his first prints. In 1920 he was appointed Secretary, Department of Graphic Art, Canadian National Exhibition and by 1924 was its commissioner of Fine Arts. He brought the work of Picasso and Dali to the C.N.E. art gallery in the 1930’s which was a very progressive step in those days. His etchings caught the attention of many at the Art Gallery of Toronto in 1924, during a graphic art show of which The Toronto Star Weekly noted, “The only large painting is an illustration by Mr. Fred Haines, a group of two horses, a man and a child, called ‘The Gift.’ Mr. Haines’ half dozen aquatints represent the work for which he is becoming famous the continent over, and little wonder! ‘Old Houses, Thornhill,’ has a remarkable tone quality.” Following Robert Holmes’ retirement the same year, Fred Haines was elected President of the Ontario Society of Artists.

In 1928 he was appointed Curator, Art Gallery of Toronto, a post he held until his appointment as Principal of the Ontario College of Art in 1932. In 1938 Richard H. Havilland noted the following of Haines, Painting with a broad simple technique he achieves a fine decorative interpretation of the Canadian landscape. He has given much attention to Ontario pastoral subjects, and these he has rendered with charm and idealization. In 1939 Haines was elected president of the Royal Canadian Academy.

In 1939 Canada went to war and the talents of her artists were called upon. Fred Haines collaborated in the design of a Victory Torch with Ted Watson. The torch was flown by Canadian bomber to England in 1941 where it was presented to Prime Minister Churchill to symbolize the Canadian people’s pledge to contribute to the defeat of Hitlerism. Sampson Matthews started making silk screen prints for servicemen’s hostels and lounges using for their theme the Canadian landscapes by Canada’s artists. Fred Haines was one the first artists to be chosen and his Beech Woods and Rural Bridge were very successfully repro­duced. The paintings were reproduced 30 x 40 inches.

As principal of the Ontario College of Art he introduced practices he had seen during his student days at the Académie Royale des Beaux Arts in Antwerp. One of them was having a studio for the director at the school where students could see him solve his own painting problems. Often he was at work on his painting in his college studio before the start of daily classes. Another of his ideas was to have a studio for advanced students apart from the regular classes but under supervision. Although Fred Haines did not work in the abstract or non-objective styles himself, he had a very open mind toward those who did. After 18 years of teaching, in which profession he distinguished himself, he retired from the College in 1951 at the age of 72. He had stayed on as principal beyond the age of retirement by special request of the board of directors of the College. He returned to full time painting and to his studio and home at Thornhill where he spent his remaining years.

In 1958 he presented 18 paintings to Meaford District High School and 14 paintings to Thorn­hill District High School. He died in 1960, and the following year a memorial exhibit of his work was held at the Art Gallery of Toronto when Dr. Charles Comfort wrote the foreword to the catalogue and concluded by the following tribute, “Fred Haines was a whole man. As a flautist his music was a delight to all who had the privilege of hearing him play. I have golfed with him at Thornhill when he grossed 78 for eighteen holes. I have heard him discuss his collection of Chinese snuff bottles with great erudition. He has made a very real contribution to Canadian life and culture and will always be remembered as an artist, an educator, an able administrator, a loyal friend, and a Christian gentlemen.” The exhibition included 36 paintings, 13 sketches, 12 prints, and 6 drawings and was also shown at the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Dec., 1961), Willistead Art Gallery, Windsor, Ontario (Jan., 1962), Sarnia Public Library and Art Gallery (Feb., 1962); these galleries had loaned pictures from their collections to the exhibit. Frederic Haines is represented in the following collections, National Gallery of Canada (General Collection, R.C.A. Diploma Collection, and the Prints and Drawings Collection); Thronhill High School; Meaford High School; Hart House (U. of T.); the galleries who participated in the memorial exhibition; the University Women’s Club, Toronto; the I.B.M. Collection and others.

His daughter, Mrs. Dorothy Hoover, author of J. W. Beatty and Librarian of the Ontario College of Art, now owns many of his paintings, sketches, prints and drawings. His Chinese snuff bottle collection included over 350 items for which he made a catalogue and illustrated it himself in water colours. He was an Honourary Member of The Royal Hungarian Society of Etchers; Painter – Gravers of London, England; Chicago Society of Etchers; Brooklyn Society of Etchers; Print-Makers of California.

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

Frederick Stanley Haines:
A Good Life Lived, an Enduring Legacy Left

It is certainly true and unfortunate that in our culture we tend to undervalue artists, unless they have been heavily promoted or commercially built up as celebrities.  It is also true that we rather quickly forget the lives and achievements of most of our worthy predecessors, even when they had been recognized and honoured during their lifetimes. Perhaps that is why it is ever so gratifying to re-discover the life well lived and the rich, enduring legacy left by Frederick S. Haines, a most accomplished, prolific and versatile artist, equally good at portraits, figure painting (gold medal from Academie Royale des Beaux Arts in Antwerp), landscapes and his beloved animals, as well as a successful engraver and print maker.  As if that were not enough, he also proved himself to be a most able educator, mentor and administrator.  Haines was the president of the Ontario Society of Artists, a founding member of Canadian Society of Painters of Watercolour, a founding member of Canadian Society of Etchers and Printers, the curator of the Art Gallery of Ontario and a well loved and most respected principal of the Ontario College of Art.  At a young age he was accepted as a member of the Royal Canadian Academy and later became its president and by resigning from that “creakily venerable institution,” he attained a moral victory that led to the rewriting of its constitution.
As the commissioner of Fine Arts for the Canadian National Exhibition, Haines educated Ontarians by introducing the paintings by Picasso, Salvador Dali and Matisse and provided the first Canadian glimpse of Danish and Scandinavian modern design.  He traveled extensively for the CNE and brought the first large show of Mexican and Southwestern U.S. Arts and Crafts to Toronto.  His association with the CNE lasted from 1920 to 1951.  Under Haines’ direction and guidance, in 1929 eight huge murals were painted for and then installed in the Dome of the Arts, Crafts and Hobbies building at the CNE.  Even though these paintings suffered greatly through neglect and abuse over the years, restorers have worked hard to redress the deterioration.  Today the Haines’ murals are permanently displayed in The Direct Energy Centre at the CNE, and it is well worth the trip to see them.
Frederick S. Haines was a contemporary and friend of the Group of Seven and was instrumental at convincing his first cousin Franklin Carmichael (from Orillia) to pursue the arts professionally, a most precarious profession to choose in those times.  Not something the parents would approve of without much trepidation, yet Haines was able to assuage Franklin’s parents’ fears of the moral and financial hazards of the big city.
As a more established and successful colleague of the Group of Seven, he invited Carmichael and some other members of the group to teach at the OCA, much to the benefit of its students.  He was instrumental in tremendously increasing student enrollment, introducing new courses of study, and establishing a much wider participation of artists in the community by promoting advertising and industrial design.
One cannot help but speculate how Haines’ early life in Meaford shaped him to become such an able artist, educator and administrator, who made a real contribution to Canadian life and culture.  It appears that Meaford was a vibrant, expanding and optimistic town in Fred’s youth. The railway had just recently connected the town to Toronto, and it boasted five hotels, many taverns and a lively social life.  Fred was born into an artistically inclined family; his father George Haines was known to have participated in the local theatre.  A cooper by trade, he also enjoyed playing cricket and had other hobbies.  His mother, Martha Jane, came from a large, religious family.  When her father, one of the founders of Christ Church Anglican and one of its first wardens, died a stained glass window was erected in his memory: “James Smith – family of ten.”
Fred attended the newly built Meaford High School and, upon graduation and passing entrance exams, he left for Toronto at the age of seventeen to enroll in the Central Ontario School of Art (later to become OCA). He was able to support himself by painting portraits and was proud to claim that from then on he could make a living by art alone.
Haines married Bertha Morehouse in 1900 and was a devoted family man and father of Dorothy (Hoover) who became the librarian at OCA and has written with love and admiration of her father.
The 50th anniversary of his death has aroused renewed interest in arts circles and especially in the town of Meaford. There, under the leadership of Pamela Woolner, the Curator of Meaford Museum, a small group of volunteers have been gathering regularly to work on a Commemorative Exhibit of Haines’ work which is to open September10th to September 30th in the galleries of Meaford Museum, Meaford Hall and Georgian Bay Secondary School, 10 am to 4 pm daily.  On show will be a permanent collection of paintings generously donated by Haines to the Georgian Bay Secondary School in 1958, and paintings on loan from major public and private galleries as well as from private collections.

Gita Marie Kikauka for The Frederick S. Haines Commemorative Exhibition, Meaford, Ontario, September 10 – 30, 2010


Studied at

Studies at Central Ontario School of Art under G.A. Reid & William Cruikshank. Academie Royale des Beaux Arts, Antwerp, 1913 under Juliaan de Vriendt

Professional Activities

Began printmaking in 1919.
Commissioner of Fine Arts, CNE (1924).
Was responsible for bringing the work of Picasso & Dali to CNE shows in the 1930's.
Curator, Art Gallery of Toronto, 1928-32.
Principal, Ontario College of Art, 1932-51.
Secretary, Department of Graphic Art, Canadian National Exhibition, 1920
President, Ontario Society of Artists, 1924
President, Royal Canadian  Academy, 1939


Produced two large (30 x 40) silkscreens with Sampson-Matthews Ltd. during WWII to decorate servicemen's hostels and lounges

Member of

Ontario Society of Artists
Royal Canadian Academy


National Gallery of Canada
Thornhill High School
Meaford High School
Hart House, University of Toronto
numerous private collections