A Timeline of Events

The events that shaped Homer Watson’s life.

Homer Watson | 1855 -1936


  • January 14th, Homer Watson is born in Doon, Ontario. The house still stands at the corner of Tilt drive and Doon Village Road
  • Homer’s parents were Randsford Watson (1824-1861) and Susan Mohr Watson (1832-1907)


  • Homer’s sister, Phoebe Watson, born on June 1st


  • Randsford Watson died of typhoid


  • The Watson sawmill business failed


  • Received watercolour paints and a drawing book from teacher, Mr. Burkholder


  • Jude Watson, elder brother, accidentally killed
  • Homer left school to support his family


  • Received his first set of oil paints from an aunt, Amelia Mohr Putham
  • Homer Watson’s grandfather died


  • Homer decided to pursue a career in the arts
  • He visited Thomas Mower Martin in Toronto to seek art advice and appraisal of his work


  • Advanced part of his inheritance and moved to Toronto
  • Met artists Lucius O’Brien and Henri Perré
  • He copied works at the Toronto Normal School
  • Worked part time at Notman & Fraser photography studio


  • Homer traveled to New York and met painter Georges Inness (1825-1894)
  • He painted along the Hudson and Susquehanna Rivers in the Adirondack Mountains


  • Elected into the Ontario Society of Artists (founded in 1872) and exhibited work regularly there until 1920


  • Spent a month with three friends canoeing down the Grand River, from Breslau to Lake Erie
  • Won prize at Toronto industrial exhibition


  • The Pioneer Mill was presented at the opening exhibition in Ottawa by the newly founded Royal Canadian Academy of Arts
  • The Governor General purchased the painting and gifted it to Queen Victoria. Watson was paid $300 for the piece, he was initially reluctant to enter into the contest.
  • The marquis opened the first exhibition of the Royal Academy. Watson’s work was displayed and he was elected an associate.


  • Homer married Roxanna Bechtel on January 1st, the couple moved into the Drake house at Doon.
  • Exhibited at the Art Association of Montréal and showed there until 1899.
  • Traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia to sketch and sold his second painting, The Last Day of the Drought, to the British Royal Collection.


  • Birth and death of son, Charles, in January
  • While touring Canada, Oscar Wilde dubbed Watson the “Canadian Constable”. Comparing him to the British artist John Constable because of their similar subject matter and style
  • Was elected full member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts


  • Bought the Doon house.
  • Did livestock illustration and illustrated for the Ontario School Reader.


  • Awarded the bronze medal at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, South Kensington, London, England.


  • Watson moved to England for four years and further established his reputation.
  • Met artists including James MacNeill Whistler, Charles Norton and Sir George Clausen.
  • He visited Scotland and France
  • Exhibited at the New Gallery, London and at the Royal Institute, Glasgow
  • He won five prizes that year at the Toronto Industrial Exhibition
  • Over the next few years his works became increasingly popular among collectors across North America


  • Won prize at the Art Association of Montréal           
  • Built a studio in his home


  • Won bronze medal at the World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago, Illinois.


  • Won prize at the Art Association of Montréal


  • Sketched on the Ile d’Orleans, Québec with Horatio Walker


  • Began association with Montréal art patron, James Ross
  • Given an important one-man exhibition at the Dowdeswell Gallery, London, England and another in New York.


  • Given a major one-man show at Cottier’s Gallery, New York


  • Watson completed the Flood Gate


  • Won a gold medal at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York
  • Traveled to England with Horatio Walker and planned for an exhibit in Glasgow.


  • Won bronze medal at Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, Missouri.


  • Given a major one-man show at Cottier’s Gallery, New York
  • Homer Watson constructed a gallery in his home to display his artwork.


  • Homer Watson founded the Canadian Art Club. This was established in order to promote the work of Canadian artists, whom he felt Canadians themselves were neglecting.
  • Adopted Mary Watson (1903-1982)
  • Homer Watson’s mother, Susan Mohr Watson died


  • Traveled to England. Assisted with Canadian Art Exhibition at the Walker Gallery, Liverpool, England


  • Traveled to England


  • Campaigned to save Waterloo County woodlands and formed a company which acquired Cressman Woods


  • Commissioned by Sir Sam Hughes to paint Canadian War Records at Valcartier, Québec to commemorate the recruitment of the First Canadian Division.


  • Watson served as the President of the Royal Canadian Academy. This was the leading arts organization in Canada at the time
  • Roxanna, Homer’s wife of 37 years passed away. After her death he became interested in spiritualism


  • Retrospective exhibition at Jenkins Gallery, more than 100 Watson’s exhibited


  • Traveled to British Columbia and Alberta


  • Retired from RCA due to loss of hearing
  • Began to study impressionism


  • Purchased a car which permitted continued sketching trips in his elder years


  • Suffered heavy financial loss
  • Sold many favourite works to Waterloo trust to maintain income
  • Visited Western Canada


  • Major retrospective exhibition organized by Fred Haines held at Art Gallery of Toronto


  • Watson died on May 30, 1936 at age 81.
  • He was awarded a posthumous Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario on June 3rd.
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