Formed in 1908 and incorporated in 1912, the Saint John Art Club is Canada’s oldest continuing art club. While the club’s activities have changed over the years, its mission has always remained as “the advancement of fine arts and the promoting and facilitating of greater knowledge and love of art on the part of the public generally.”

In the early 20th century, the club’s primary activities included the presentation of lectures, the showing of local and traveling exhibitions and the acquisition of important paintings. The club’s collection was housed at various sites throughout the city until the permanent collection of 39 paintings was turned over the New Brunswick Museum in 1995, who committed to maintaining, displaying and conserving the collection in perpetuity. In addition, the museum agreed to provide a permanent space for the club's meetings, special events and archival materials.

 

 

Saint John Art Club crest
The official Saint John Art Club crest, by Marjorie Tapley, 1910
Jarvis Building
The Jarvis Building on Prince William Street, one of the club's earliest meeting places.

In its early years, the club held its regular meetings in the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association building at 140 Union Street in uptown Saint John, and later in the historic Jarvis Building on Prince William Street. Never having an official permanent home, the club has continued to meet over the years in different uptown locations, including the upper floors of City Market for a number of years. The club currently holds its monthly meetings in the New Brunswick Museum in Market Square.

In addition to promoting the arts generally, the club has always maintained a focus on art education. Beginning in 1912, the club played an instrumental role in developing the arts in Saint John with the establishment of The Saint John Art School. The school operated without remuneration at various locations – including the corner of Carleton and Peel streets, 110 Prince William Street and the third floor of City Market – until closing its doors in 1934 following the Great Depression. Members have continued to offer instruction to budding young artists over the years, however. In addition, since 1998, the club has offered an annual scholarship to high school students pursuing a fine arts education. Notable recipients include Jack Bishop, a Halifax-based artist originally from Saint John.

Other notable past members include John C. Miles, Miller Brittain, Jack Humphrey, Fred Ross, Rosamond Campbell, James Stackhouse and Ray Butler, to name but a few.

View of the Art Club studio on Peel Street, 1914

Today, we invite you to stop by our gallery in uptown Saint John where you can view and purchase works by our members and learn more about the club’s upcoming activities. In addition, we invite you to contact members about their original artwork on display in our online gallery.

 

 

 

Source: The Saint John Art Club: A 100 Year History, 1908–2008 by Mary K. Cormier and Emma May Innis-Weisseneder

Available for purchase in the Brunswick Square Gallery.