HomeAbout Fred. S. Haines The Exhibition Supporters Contact Us

Frederick Stanley Haines:

A Good Life Lived, an Enduring Legacy Left


Frederick Stanley Haines, born in Meaford, March 29, 1879, died November 21, 1960

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