Ruyter Stinson Sherman
(also Ruiter, nee Shearman)

April 19 1865 - March 30 1941

Civil Engineering, Queen's University 1885
Private/Corporal/Sergeant, 38th Dufferin Rifles 1884-1889
Ontario Land Surveyor 1890
Dominion Land Surveyor 1892
B.C. Provincial Land Surveyor #18 1893
Member, Vancouver Oldtimer's Club c1900
Founding Member, Entomological Society of B.C. 1902
B.C. Teacher's Certificate, First Class 1903
Charter Member, B.C. Mountaineering Club 1907
Principal, Admiral Seymour Elementary School 1907 - 1932
Chairman & Trustee, Savary Island Park Association, 1910 - ?
Charter Member, Vancouver Natural History Society 1918
Charter Member, B.C. Art League 1920
Member, Vancouver Pioneer's Club c1920
Author, J.M. Dent & Sons 1924 - 1941
Founding Member/President, Burrard Field Naturalist Club 1926
First Vice-President, Director (1933) AHSAV
Director, Vancouver Museum

552 West 7th Ave., c1903-1905

Ruiter Stinson Sherman was born to English parents in Youngstown, Ohio in 1865. A few years later his family moved to Ontario, where he grew up. His family name was Shearman, but for reasons unknown he changed his last name to Sherman by 1890, and went by that name for the rest of his life. He trained as a civil engineer and surveyor after deciding not to become a doctor. He came west in 1889, and became a prominent Vancouver educator, naturalist, author, and artist.


A condensed family tree.

He arrived in Vancouver in time to qualify as a Vancouver Old-Timer, a group that later expanded to become the Pioneers, and registered as the 18th Provincial Land Surveyor in B.C. A few years later he began teaching school, and achieved his first-class teaching certificate in 1903. In 1907 he was appointed Principal of Admiral Seymour Elementary School in Vancouver, a position he held until his retirement in 1932.

In 1910 Sherman was one of the founders of the Savary Island Park Association, established to sell vacation lots on Savary Island. He purchased a lot, as did others in his family, and to this day their descendants still spend their summers there.

Traumerei, Sherman cottage on Savary Island

Although he was an artist and illustrator, and occasionally exhibited his work, he was more notable for his support of the arts and cultural organizations in Vancouver. He joined the B.C. Art League as a Charter Member in 1920, along with his daughter Maud.

In 1922 he and his daughter went on a sketching expedition led by Thomas Fripp.

Ruiter was influential in a number of other groups in Vancouver, including the B.C. Mountaineering Club (founding member, 1907); Vancouver Natural History Society (founding member, 1918); Burrard Field Naturalists Club (Charter member and later President); and the Vancouver Museum (Director).

The Ecology of Savary Island, 1931

He was an ardent entymologist, specializing in Diptera, or two-winged flies, and was a founding member of the Entomological Society of B.C. in 1902. He made many early contributions to recording the insect life of the province. He donated a collection of insects to the Vancouver Museum in the 1920s, and his entire collection was donated to the museum by his widow after his death. Unfortunately both collections were later thrown out due to poor condition, and no record of their contents remains.

He was also a prolific author of natural history stories for children, and was published in many school books by J.M. Dent & Sons, as well as in "School Days" magazine, which included a large number of his pen and ink drawings.

Some of his books include Mother Nature Stories, illustrated by Maud; the Canadian Industrial Reader; Wild Folk and Their Ways; and six volumes of The Silent Study Readers.


Sherman died in 1941 of heart failure while working in his yard on Dundas Street in Vancouver. He left behind a large legacy of written work and published illustrations, which continued to be republished many times over by Dent, until after more than forty years his two longest-lasting nature stories, "Merwa the Moose" and "Kwah! the Crow" made their last appearance in a grade school reader in the 1960s. Most importantly, almost every one of the many groups and institutions that Ruiter Sherman helped to found in Vancouver continues to this day, including the art school and the art gallery.

Books from the Sherman family library.

R.S. Sherman bookplate

R.S. Sherman grave


1920 October 2 Vancouver Sketch Club   Monthly Exhibition Seton Lake

References - MONOGRAPHS

Refer to BIBLIO.


References - GENERAL

SAVARY ISLAND PARK issued by The Savary Island Park Association
      Sales brochure for lots on Savary Island c1918
      Includes photographs and text extolling the virtues of buying land on the island
      Sherman is listed as Chairman & Trustee of the Association.

SCHOOL DAYS magazine, published by the Vancouver School Board
      September 1919 - June 1930 (monthly except July and August)
      Contains articles, poems, contests, school information, student exercises.
      Numerous stories and illustrations by R.S. Sherman and his daughter Maud Sherman
      Also illustrations by Charles H. Scott and Spencer Perceval Judge.

      March 1931; 42 pages, illustrated black and white
      Published by the Art, Historical and Scientific Association of Vancouver
      Includes article by R.S. Sherman on Savary Island
      Pen & ink illustration by Maud Rees Sherman on page 12.

NATURE AND LANGUAGE WORKBOOK (Junior) by Ruiter Stinson Sherman and E.W. Reid
      1934 (first printing); 66 pages; Published by J.M. Dent & Sons
      Extensivly illustrated in b&w by Maud Sherman.
      "Junior Book Suitable for Use in Grades II & III"

      Compiled and edited by John A. Whittaker
      Published by The Corporation of Land Surveyors of the Province of British Columbia
      1990, ISBN 1-55056-090-5; 170 pages (softcover)
      Contains excellent two page biography and b&w photograph of R.S. Sherman

SUNNY SANDY SAVARY: A History of Savary Island 1792-1992 by Ian Kennedy
      1992, Kennell Publishing, Vancouver; ISBN 0-9696291-0-9
      188 pages, paperback, illustrated black & white; index, bibliography
      Includes references to Maud Sherman, R.S. Sherman, the Herchmer family,
           Frankie Keefer, Helen Griffin, visiting artists, art school students & staff.

BUTTERFLIES OF BRITISH COLUMBIA by Crispin S. Guppy and Jon H. Shepard
      Royal B.C. Museum; ISBN 0-7748-0809-8
      408 pages, 8-1/2 x 11", hardcover, colour photographs, maps, illustrations

MAGNETIC ISLE - Gladys Bloomfield's Savary
     2005; ISBN 0-9739209-0-4; 146 pages, illustrated in black and white
     Edited by Conde Landale; published by Savary Island Heritage Society
     Includes references to R.S. Sherman, Maud Rees Sherman, Laurencia Herchmer.


" the evening a fancy dress ball was held in the pavilion, the Savary Island orchestra providing music for the dancers... ...The costumes were particularly well done and becoming. Among those in fancy dress were the following: ... Mr. Ruyter Sherman "Mephistopheles" ..."
      From "Savary Island" (fundraiser for the French Red Cross)
      Vancouver Province, August 10, 1918

"Mr. R.S. Shearman (sic) with his son and daughter-in-law have returned to Vancouver. Mrs. Shearman and Miss Maud will remain for some time on the island."
      From "Savary Island"
      Vancouver Province, September 5, 1919

"Mr. and Mrs. Stacey Shearman, with their son and daughter, Mr. Reuter (sic) and Miss Winnifred Shearman, are occupying Mr. R.L. Shearman's (sic) cottage at present. The advent of a baby boy in the family of the R.L. Shearman's is occupying the attention of the grandparents at present."
      From "Savary Island"
      Vancouver Province, ?, 1920

"Mr. R. S. Sherman's "Seton Lake" was also very good."
      From "Artists and Their Doings"
      Western Woman's Weekly, October 9 1920

"The party consisted of Mr. R. Sherman and Miss Sherman..."
      From "Sketching Trip Enjoyed"
      Western Woman's Weekly, July 29 1922