Frederick Stanley Haines:
A Good Life Lived, an Enduring Legacy Left
Frederick Stanley Haines, born in Meaford, March 29, 1879, died November 21,
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
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
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.