Kleinburg, ON – On July 8, 1966, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection first opened its doors to the public. Now, fifty years later to the day, the gallery celebrated this milestone with government officials, artists, supporters, and descendants of the McMichaels and Group of Seven artists. Each of these honoured guests have and continue to make significant contributions to the legacy of the McMichael.

“Today is an historic day for the McMichael as the gallery commemorates its first half-century,” said Andrew W. Dunn, Acting Chair of the McMichael Board of Trustees. “We are profoundly grateful to all the patrons, members, donors, supporters, volunteers, board members, levels of government, descendants and staff who helped shape the McMichael so far. As we look ahead to the next fifty years, the McMichael will celebrate ‘The Art of Canada’ in many new and exciting ways, showcasing and building our deep and renowned Group of Seven, Inuit, and First Nations Collection, curating outstanding exhibitions of both historical and contemporary art, and comparing and contrasting Canadian art with the works of top International artists.”

“Bob and Signe would be thrilled to see the continued relevance and development of the gallery now in its 50th year,” said Jack and Penny Fenwick, nephew and niece of Signe McMichael. “Their dream of an art gallery surrounded by nature and devoted to Canadian Art was a life-long passion and the McMichael has become a vital part of Canadian culture.”

In recognition of individuals that have bestowed the McMichael with a legacy gift, the gallery is pleased to announce two significant donations, The Norman E. Hallendy Archives, and the Jamie Cameron and Christopher Bredt Northwest Coast Art and Baker Lake Drawings gifts.

Over the span of twenty-five years, The Norman E. Hallendy Archives was given to the McMichael through five donations. Norman Hallendy’s relationship with the gallery began in 1980 with the gift of an Inuit sculpture. In 1989, in addition to his artworks, he began donating his documentary photographs of Inuit artists and the Arctic—totaling more than 12,000 still images. With the acquisition of his ethnographic research collection in 2015, his life’s work on the Arctic came under the care of the McMichael. This final component documenting the intellectual and material culture of the Inuit of southwest Baffin Island is unique and invaluable, as it includes original video archives comprised of interviews with Inuit elders, and a semantic field database. The McMichael is honoured to be entrusted with this national treasure created by an award-winning Canadian ethnogeographer. It not only preserves the cultural heritage of Canada’s Inuit people, but also enables this heritage to become accessible to present and future generations.

The McMichael also celebrates the wonderful gift of forty-nine incomparable works by twenty-seven contemporary Northwest Coast artists, donated to the Collection by noted Toronto-based collectors Jamie Cameron and Christopher Bredt. These works were on display in last fall’s exhibition Transforming Spirit: The Cameron/Bredt Collection of Contemporary Northwest Coast Art, which showcased the contributions First Nations artists are making to the country’s cultural heritage. In relation to Cameron and Bredt’s admiration for Northwest Coast art, they have also worked with the gallery to launch the Aboriginal Art Curatorial Fund. This fund will help the McMichael support more curatorial and research initiatives that are important to the preservation and conservation of work by Canada’s Aboriginal artists.

As a sequel to this major donation of Northwest Coast artworks, the couple have gifted 189 Baker Lake drawings, collages and prints from their extensive collection of Inuit art. From this important collection, there are fifty works on paper by artist Jessie Oonark, which are now on view in the exhibition Reframing The Art of Canada. The gallery is fortunate to receive such large, significant collections from these generous donors. This legacy of giving is integral to the foundation of this institution and to establishing its presence on the global stage as Canada’s art gallery.

“A half-century later, 6000 pieces of Canadian art, and counting, live in the halls of the McMichael,” said the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. “Individually, each piece captures and conveys a moment in Canadian history—but together, they immortalize our past, and colour a sense of Canadian identity today. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I thank the McMichael for your dedication to the art and artists of Canada over these last 50 years—and here’s to 50 more.”

To thank all its communities of supporters, the McMichael is hosting a two-day public celebration this weekend, July 9 and 10, with special programming and free admission. The McMichael is excited to welcome regular visitors and newcomers to enjoy a special menu at Aura by Cashew & Clive, a great en plein air painting adventure, live art battles, musical performances, tours, and art making.

The Gallery Shop, which features a wide selection of unique Canadian-made products, will also be open all weekend.

Visitors can tour the gallery’s newest exhibitions in 50/50/50, highlighting historic, Modern, and contemporary Canadian art. A.Y. Jackson & Tom Thomson: Wounds of War focuses on the artists’ First World War art; Jack Bush: In Studio features twenty select paintings by the Toronto-born artist Jack Bush, five of which have never been exhibited in Ontario until now; and Colleen Heslin: Needles and Pins showcases the contemporary art of this artist, who was the national winner of the Annual RBC Canadian Painting Competition in 2013.

Now extended by popular demand until September 5, the critically acclaimed exhibition Field Trip: Sarah Anne Johnson is also a must-see! This contemporary exhibition showcases the artist’s latest project about outdoor music festivals. Johnson sees these festivals as a forum for a community of people coming together to create a modern-day Dionysian celebration through a connection to nature, music and dance, and the rejection of social norms. In addition to her photographs, the artist has installed three new incredible sculptures.

The McMichael has received generous support from the following sponsors: 50th Anniversary Premier Partner, RBC; 50th Anniversary Signature Partner, The Sprott Foundation; 50th Anniversary Partners, Deloitte, Hatch, and Nashville Developments Inc.; and Community Events Partner, TransCanada Pipelines; as well as financial assistance from the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.

About the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of over 6,000 artworks by Canadian artists, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists. The gallery is located on 100 acres of northern landscape and hiking trails at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in the City of Vaughan. For more information:


Media Contacts:

Daniela Travierso-Galati

Media Relations and Communications Coordinator

McMichael Canadian Art Collection

905.893.1121 ext. 2210

[email protected]