Monday 31 October 2022

History Corner ~ October 2022 by John Lover

Among the audience at the launch of our History Book at Abkhazi Gardens in 2008 was the late Moira Anderson and her family. This lady, a former book shop owner, was well known in Victoria’s cultural circles. She subsequently produced a watercolour painting, rather faded, but interestingly showing a view of Mai (Todd) Gillespie’s garden, next door to Abkhazi Gardens. 

The artist in question was Maude Paget, and Moira was keen to know about Maude’s contribution to our Club’s annual exhibitions. We were happy to investigate.

Maude de Kirkby Paget was born in 1874 in Penrith, England, where she attended the Carlisle School of Art prior to her family’s emigration to Canada in 1891, where she continued her interest in art. 

While living in Souris, Manitoba, Maude became acquainted with her contemporary Nellie McClung, the well-known pioneering feminist, and was commissioned to illustrate the cover of McClung’s autobiography, “Clearing in the West; My Own Story.” 

Trained in commercial art, Maude was an artist for the Hudson’s Bay Company in Winnipeg and Spenser’s Department Store in Vancouver.

In 1920 she arrived in Victoria where she was to spend most of her life. The same year she became a member of the Island Art and Crafts Society and contributed 11 paintings to its annual exhibition. She went on exhibit with the Society every year up to 1928.

Maude became well known for her miniatures and exhibited in jury shows at the Vancouver Art Gallery an also featured in the BC Artists Christmas exhibition at the Gallery in 1933 and 1934. She received numerous commissions for her miniatures until eye strain obliged her to turn to portraiture and landscape painting, at which she was equally adept and able to contribute to the arts community by painting portraits of local socialites and local scenes. 

Maude Paget died in Victoria in 1967, where her obituary in the local papers included the words, “Miniatures, My Forte.”  Her gravestone lies in the Royal Oak Burial Park Cemetery.

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