HOMER WATSON CHRONOLOGY

A Timeline of Events

The events that shaped Homer Watson’s life.

Homer Watson | 1855 -1936

1855     

  • 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)

1858

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

1861

  • Randsford Watson died of typhoid

1864

  • The Watson sawmill business failed

1866

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

1867

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

1870

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

1872

  • 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

1874

  • 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

1876

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

1878

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

1879

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

1880

  • 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.

1881

  • 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.

1882

  • 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

1883

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

1886

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

1887

  • 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

1892

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

1893

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

1894

  • Won prize at the Art Association of Montréal

1896

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

1898

  • 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.

1899

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

1900

  • Watson completed the Flood Gate

1901

  • 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.

1904

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

1906

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

1907

  • 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

1910

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

1912

  • Traveled to England

1913

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

1914

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

1918

  • 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

1920

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

1921

  • Traveled to British Columbia and Alberta

1922

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

1923

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

1929

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

1930

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

1936

  • 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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