Work & Bio

Peter Haworth

Born in Lancaster, England - 1889
 / Died in May 7, 1986

View biography... View selected works...



Born in Lancaster, England, he enlisted in the army during World War One and served with the Royal Flying Corps where he won the Distinguished Flying Cross. He left the army at the close of the war and turned to the study of art at the Royal College of Art, London, under Professor Sir W. Rothenstein and R. Anning Bell, R.A. He graduated with his A.R.C.A., awarded by the University of London. Haworth was particularly interested in stained glass work and began working in this medium very early in his career. He came to Canada in 1923 where he was appointed Director of Art at the Toronto Central Technical School. He also began to fill com­missions for stained glass work in Toronto and other cities. One of these commis­sions was to design and execute 14 panels for First Baptist Church, Ottawa, which were noted in 1929 by the Year Book of The Arts In Canada. His achievements in painting were also recognized in 1931 when he exhibited Outhouses with the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour. This painting was purchased by the National Gallery of Canada in 1932. By 1936 he had been elected President of the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour and two years later had three of his water colours exhibited in the important showing A Century of Canadian Art held at The Tate Gallery, London, England. In 1939 he became Instructor in Design and Drawing at the University of Toronto. Then came the Second World War when many Canadian artists were called upon to record our nation’s effort; particularly the activities of the armed forces overseas and at home. Both Peter and his wife Bobs were commissioned by the Canadian Government to make records of the activities of the Services on the coast of British Columbia. Thirty-nine of their works were exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery which the Vancouver Province noted during January of 1944, as follows, Mindful of the picturesque and strong nature of the western landscape, and introducing even typical local touches such as totem poles, the artists have vigorously portrayed a region guarded by planes, guns and ships. The exhibition comes here through the courtesy of Director H.O. McCurry of the National Gallery of Canada. Emphasis has been laid in the sketches on the role of aviation. Numerous pictures of airplanes, seen close up or at a distance, and singly or in squadrons, are invariably shown with verve and in skilful patterns. The human element of ground crews is likewise frequently introduced. His major contribution seems however to be with his stained glass work. In 1952 Melwyn Breen of the Toronto Saturday Night described Haworth’s studio as follows, We found Mr. Haworth in his study surrounded by the tools and materials of his work: samples of stained glass, stack of exquisite, jewel-like and meticulously painted sketches, huge ‘cartoons’, which are the blueprints for a finished window . . . . For the steps in the designs he has done for many churches in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton and elsewhere, Haworth and his assistant Miss Gladys Allen, first make a water-color or tempera sketch of the finished window. These ‘sketches’ are beautiful things in them­selves having the glow and richness of miniature windows. The sketch is then redrawn in charcoal to actual scale as a ‘cartoon’. The cartoon is then taken to the firm that does the actual glass-making and assembling, and, under Haworth’s supervision, the glass sections in the design are keyed to show the color and shape of the piece of glass to be used. After this is done, templates showing the actual shape and size of the finished glass piece are cut out and used as patterns for the glass. These are then cut with diamond cutters. After this comes the etching and painting of the detail. Then it is ready to be assembled and ‘leaded.’ The leading itself may be half an inch, a quarter of an inch or three-eights of an inch thick, depending on the size and weight of the window. The leads are simply strips of the metal, flanged in the middle to separate adjacent pieces of glass, which are then cemented in. Then comes the actual installation of the finished window. In his painting, he held a one man show at the Roberts Gallery, Toronto, in 1959 when Hugh Thomson of the Toronto Daily Star noted, There is no attempt at bold flourish and the bravura manner. His is more the reflective, minor-key style of nature-painting. He loves an arresting pattern of lines, such as a dock with interesting stages to it and stairs leading to the various landings, a herring weir, the formation of roots, a grouping of flora, a kaleidoscopic pattern of variously tinted autumn leaves floating on water. In 1961 another exhibition of Haworth’s semi-abstract paintings took place at Roberts Gallery, which Colin Sabiston described as follows, Based on the substance of varied realities in Ontario, the Gaspé coast, the Caribbean Islands and Spain, his abstract stylizations show how respect for the laws of perspective enhances his type of composition. One of his devices is the juxtaposition of small plane units of varied shapes. Integrated with these in the over-all pattern of each painting are such real­istic units as sailboats, woodland vistas, harbor, mountain, village and city scenes. Color patterns conform with design, and their integration achieves the effects of greater depth and distance, both in brilliant sunshine and the deeper tones of dusk. After his retirement from teaching he continued to paint in Toronto until his death in 1986 at the age of 97.

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

After World War I, Attended the Royal College of Art in London, England. Graduated with A.R.C.A. presented by the University of London.

Professional Activities

Came to Canada in 1923 where he was appointed
Director of Art at the Toronto Central Technical School.
Became Instructor in Design and Drawing at U. of T. in 1939.

Peter first applies gesso ground to a board. This surface has a texture which resists the paint which
in his case is casein and tempera. This is splashed on in parts and the result is a varied surface.
He paints directly onto the board without laying on a drawing first.
The surface is then varnished with a dull or mat varnish.


Numerous liturgical commissions throughout Canada mainly executed in stain glass.
One major commission was for 14 panels for the First Baptist Church in Ottawa.

Past member of

Royal Canadian Academy
Canadian Group of Painters
Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour
Ontario Society of Artist
Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London, England


National Gallery of Canada
Art Gallery of Ontario
Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery
Centennial Art Gallery, N.S.
Vaughn Library, Acadia University, N.S.
Art Gallery of Windsor
London Teachers College
Ontario County Board of Education, Oshawa
Royal Bank of Canada
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Steel Company of Canada
Dow Chemical Ltd.
Rothmans of Pall Mall Canada Limited
and numerous private collections throughout Canada