The McMichael Canadian Art Collection started out as a modest four-room home, built in 1954 for a young photographer and his wife – Robert and Signe McMichael. It was designed in a robust but stylish log cabin aesthetic by architect Leo Venchiarutti (1947-2007).
The McMichaels bought their first painting in 1955. Soon the walls of their home were filled with their growing collection of paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In 1963 they added a large room, now known as the Founders’ Lounge. By then their collection held 194 works, and they were regularly welcoming visitors and school groups in to see the art.
On November 18, 1965 the McMichaels signed a Gift Agreement that donated their home, their collection and their land to the Province of Ontario. The official opening to the public took place on July 8, 1966. Over the next few years large wings were added, and the collection has since grown to nearly 6,500 works.
This display of prized works from that 1966 gift are a reminder of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection’s origins and a tribute to the founders who had the vision to see the mighty oak in the little acorn.
Emily Carr (1871-1945), Shoreline, 1936, oil on canvas, 68 x 111.5 cm, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Gift of Mrs. H.P. de Pencier, 1966.2.1