Edward Bawden in Canada

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 Edward Bawden – River Landscape, Banff, 1949

In 1949 and 1950 Edward Bawden travelled to Canada to teach at the Banff School of Fine Art during the summer. The town of Banff was first settled in the 1880s, after the transcontinental railway was built through the Bow Valley. In 1883, three Canadian Pacific Railway workers stumbled upon a series of natural hot springs on the side of Sulphur Mountain and since then the area has been a tourist attraction. 

The Banff School of Fine Arts was founded in 1933 and in the 1950s they opened up classes for Opera, Photography and had summer schools with international artists visiting as teachers. 

From all accounts Bawden enjoyed his time teaching there in 1949 and he returned in 1950 too. His war travels may have inspired him to take on such a commission and it was free travel too. On Bawden’s return from Canada, Walter Hoyle commented that Edward was dressed in blue denim jeans and coat, a modern fashion for such a formal chap. 

While in Canada Bawden wrote to John Nash in his typical sarcastic style that he was fed up with mosquitoes and trees:

‘in my opinion nothing will ever open up this country for painting better than some forest fires on a vast scale’.

Some of the works were featured in an exhibition in May, 1951 “Water-colour drawings of the Canadian Rockies by Edward Bawden, C.B.E., A.R.A.”


Edward Bawden – Cascade Mountain, Canadian Rockies 1949


 Edward Bawden – The Bow River, Banff, Canada, 1949


 Edward Bawden – A Ranch in the Rockies, 1949


 Edward Bawden – The Canmore Mountain Range, 1950

While there he drove to the nearby town of Canmore, Alberta and completed a series of pictures, the watercolour above was painted in the Ukrainain Cemetry of the coal mining town. The mines opened in 1887 but during the 1970s the market price dropped and in 1979 the mines closed.

This picture painted in 1950 was done with much thicker paint and less transparent than the others. It was featured in the show at the Leicester Galleries, where the Tate purchased it. Below is the view today. 


 Edward Bawden – Canmore, Alberta, Canada, 1950

 Edward Bawden – In the Canadian Rockies, 1949

Below is a copperplate etching made by Bawden in 1952 of his time in Canada. It would be reprinted with a set of other etchings in March 1988, to celebrate the eighty-fifth birthday of Edward Bawden.


 Edward Bawden – Cabin in the Forest – Canada, 1952

† Malcolm Yorke – Edward Bawden & His Circle, 2015