Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950
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William Ferris (Will)

1839 - May 25 1930

Vancouver Art Association Founding Member 1889
Art, Historical and Scientific Association of Vancouver Founding Member 1894
Curator Emeritus, Vancouver Museum
B.C. Society of Fine Arts

William Ferris was born in Oxford, England in 1839, and died in Vancouver, B.C. in 1930, according to McMann's entry in Biographical Index of Artists in Canada. B.C. Vital Statistics on-line gives the information that he died on May 25 1930 at the age of 91. He arrived in Vancouver in 1888, becoming one of the earliest artists to exhibit in Vancouver. He was the first art teacher in Vancouver. He was a founding member of the first two important arts organizations in Vancouver, the Vancouver Art Association in 1889, and the Art, Historical and Scientific Association of Vancouver in 1894. Refer to "Clippings" section below for further biographical information.

Ferris exhibited a number of his paintings in the First Annual Exhibition of the Vancouver Art Association in 1890, and also in the 1894 exhibition. He had work in the first annual exhibition of the Vancouver Arts and Crafts Association in 1900.

He had a number of paintings in the 1909 B.C. Society of Fine Arts' debut First Annual Exhibition at the Dominion Hall in Vancouver.

Ferris exhibited in the 1920 Annual Exhibition of the B.C. Society of Fine Arts, held at the Vancouver School Board offices on Hamilton Street.



1890 October 6 - 11 Vancouver Art Assoc.   1st Annual Exhibition Cedar Tree, Stanley Park
A Veteran, Stanley Park
Fisherman's Home, Stanley Park
On the Rail Track, Vancouver
Burrard Inlet, From Drydock
A Tangled Corner, Stanley Park
Observation Point, from Stanley Park
The old "Beaver"
Brockton Point, from Jones' boathouse
The Old Saw-pit, Ealing
The Two Lions, from Capilano
Wild Music, The Canyon, Capilano
Day's Point, Second Narrows
The San Juan Lime Works
False Creek Bridge
River Thames, Wandsworth
1900 Sept. 25-27 VACA First Annual Exhibition To Second Beach
Grey Day, Second Beach
Across the Inlet
Low Tide, English Bay
Rainy Weather, Bowen Island
Autumn Morning, English Bay
To Recreation Grounds, Stanley Park
The Bluff
Burrard Inlet
Capilano River
Siwash Rock
Gray Morning, English Bay
Big Trees, Stanley Park
Brockton Point, looking north
A Cosy Nook
A Big Cedar
Low Tide, Siwash Rock
Second Beach
To English Bay
Brockton Point
The Beaver
The Reef, English Bay
To False Creek
Rocks, Point Atkinson
Inlet, from Drydock
English Bay
1909 April 20 - 28 BCSFA   First Annual Exhibition Low Tide, English Bay
Spring Day, English Bay
Peep at Vancouver from Brockton Pt.
Autumn Morn, English Bay
Cedar Cove, 20 Years Ago
1912 Nov. 25 - 30 BCSFA   Annual Exhibition Howe Sound from Jericho
A Fishing Morn, Vedder River
Mt. Crown, from Jericho
Evening, Sechelt
1915 April BCSFA   Works by Members Surlingham on the Nate, Norfolk
Site of Pacific Coast Lumber Mill, 1900
Indian Summer, English Bay
Pt. Atkinson from Jericho
Old Cannery, Jericho
Cloud Effect, English Bay
1920 September 18 - 25 BCSFA   Annual Exhibition Backwater, Lulu Island
The Reef, English Bay
Coal Harbour, Foggy Morning
1932 May - July VAG   All Canadian Exhibition Shuswap River
Mabel Lake
1946 July 2 - 28 VAG   Jubilee Exhibition Kileaua Volcano, Hawaii
The Old Cannery, Jericho Beach
The Narrows from Stanley Park
Site of Bath-House, English Bay, 1892
Trees, Stanley Park
Landscape, 1911
1950 April 25 - May 14 BCSA   40th Annual Exhibition The Beaver, 1888


William Ferris by E.J. Norcross
      Museum and Art Notes, June 1930, Vol. 5 No. 2; page 61 (includes photograph)
      Published by Art, Historical and Scientific Association of Vancouver

100 YEARS OF B.C. ART (refer to VAG58)

THE FINE ARTS IN VANCOUVER, 1886 - 1930 (refer to THOM)

      Includes short reference to Ferris.

(refer to UL78)


BEYOND THE CANVAS - Artists, Stories and the Sea by Jennifer Breckon and James P. Delgado
      Featuring the Mary and Bill Everett Family Collection
      2000, ISBN 0-9695221-4-2; exhibition at the Vancouver Martime Museum; illust. in colour
      Includes Foreword by Patricia E. Bovey, Introduction by James P. Delgado; list of works
      Essay A Collector Recollects by Bill Everett
      Exhibition included work by Ferris

      1 reference cited for Ferris: Harper above




"W. Ferris, who is another great worker, contributed many pretty subjects, nearly always well chosen, but not so frequently pleasing in color, which is too dense, particularly in the forest shades... ... Mr. Ferris's screen of water colours is chiefly made up of sketches in and around Vancouver, many pretty bits of sky and water, but we would suggest that he subordinate his foregrounds far more than he does at times, and that if he stippled less and washed or stained more he would gain both in breadth and transparency."
       From "British Columbia Letters, No. IV", by (unknown)
       The Canadian Architect and Builder 1900

" ... were well represented in oil colors, and Messrs. DeForest and Ferris each sent a number of characteristic works in the same medium . . . In water colors, Mr. Ferris showed but four small drawings ..."
       From "British Columbia Letters, No. VII", by (unknown)
       The Canadian Architect and Builder 1901

"One of the first pioneers of art in this Province was William Ferris, who came to Vancouver in 1888, after some years of the legal profession in London, where he had had the advantage of the companionship and help of many painters since famous. His week-ends and afternoons were frequently devoted to sketching with those congenial comrades, and he attained considerable dexterity with the brush. It was natural that he should, on coming to British Columbia, begin to sketch the scenery he saw around him. One of the earliest of these sketches had for its subject the wreck of the steamship "Beaver" - a picture that may now be regarded as the best actual representation of that ill-fated vessel. Sketches of Cedar Cove and various objects and scenes along the waterfront attest his skill, and are valued evidences of what Vancouver was in those early days. Along with others, he was instrumental in the inauguration of the Art, Historical and Scientific Association, which has remained in existence until this day."
       From "Art in British Columbia", by Bernard McEvoy
       Opportunities Magazine 1910

"Mr. Will Ferris has a charming little watercolor, No. (5), "Old Country Road Near London". His "Deadman's Island", No. (6), shows, I am told, a vanished past. The artist has obtained an excellent water effect, but as a painting it suffers a little from the regularity of the trees."
      From "With The B.C. Artists", by "A Visitor"
      Vancouver Daily Province September 27, 1916

"Owing to the retirement of Mr. Will Ferris, who had been connected with the Association from its earliest days, and now seeks a very well-earned retirement, it was necessary to appoint a new secretary-curator. This was carried out by a special committee, who, after interviewing numerous applicants, finally selected myself, and I was duly appointed to the position of secretary-curator at the meeting held on the 26th of March, 1925, the appointment to date from the 1st of April of that year. Mr. Will Ferris kindly consented to remain in office to instruct his successor for the period of one month."
      From "Curator's Report, by T.P.O. Menzies
      Museum Notes, Vol. 1, No. 1, February 1926.

"May 19th a reception was held at the home of Mrs. J.W. Weart, where His Worship Mayor L.D. Taylor made a presentation of a handsome walking stick, as a token of appreciation of the long and faithful services rendered by Mr. Will Ferris by the Association, on his retirement."
      From "Curator's Report, by T.P.O. Menzies
      Museum Notes, Vol. 1, No. 1, February 1926.

"A meeting called the following Tuesday, April 17th (1894) ,,, saw the founding of a the present society. The new association soon printed a new Constitution, from which is taken the first list of officers, as follows: ... General Committee: ... Mr. Ferris ... "
      From "History of the Art, Historical and Scientific Association of Vancouver"
      Museum Notes, Vol. 1, No. 2, June 1926.

"At that time Prof. Charles Hill-Tout had charge of the Archaeological section, and Mr. Will Ferris of the Arts."
      From "History of the Art, Historical and Scientific Association of Vancouver"
      Museum Notes, Vol. 1, No. 2, June 1926.

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