Vancouver School of Decorative & Applied Arts (founded 1925)

Also known as:

Vancouver School of Art: Decorative and Applied (1933)
Vancouver School of Art (1937)
Emily Carr College of Art (1978)
Emily Carr College of Art and Design (1981)
Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design (1994)
Emily Carr Institute (2003 - 2008)
Emily Carr University of Art + Design (2008 - )


The Vancouver School of Decorative & Applied Arts was founded in 1925, opening its doors to the first class in September of that year, using rooms borrowed from the Vancouver School Board. It was the first public art school in Vancouver.

The First Teaching Staff, First year drawing class, First year modelling class, 1925-26

The B.C. Art League had been formed in 1920 with the purpose of opening an art school and an art gallery, and this was their first success after years of hard work and lobbying. Earlier in 1925 they had secured the support and funding of the B.C. Department of Education, represented in negotiations by John Kyle, although Kyle had insisted that the school help pay its own way - requiring an annual tuition fee of $50.00, for example, to start with.

1926 Paintbox and autographs

The students published an annual in June 1926, called The Paint Box, with Ellen M. Moore winning the competition for the cover design. Three hundred copies of the annual were professionally printed. There were forty-four pages in the annual, which included numerous articles, jokes, poems, and sketches by students as well as instructors. Articles included "Places To Sketch", by Maud Sherman, and "Sculpture", by Charles Marega.

A selection of Prospectii: 1928, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1937.

1928 art school display at P.N.E.

1929 Graduating Class

The School prospered, producing the first group of graduates in 1929. Shortly afterwards, the Depression hit and the School's financial situation became precarious. Charles H. Scott, the school's Director, was forced to make budget reductions which included salary cuts for all staff except himself. His decision regarding the salary cuts was a turning point for the school. Members of the staff quit, including Fred Varley and J.W.G.(Jock) MacDonald, and decided to start their own private, competing, art school in Vancouver. They found backers and incorporated the B.C. College of Arts Ltd. on July 20, 1933.

1931 Graduating Class

Student work from 1931-32 session.

A selection of Prospectii: 1939, 1941, 1944, 1953.

1935-36 Evening Courses.

Application forms for 1940 and 1956.

It was simultaneously a promising and an unfortunate turn of events in many ways. The VSDAA lost important painters and teachers, and members of the art community - and all those in the two schools - were unwillingly forced to take sides and support either one school or the other. This was said to have caused permanent rifts between former friends. On the other hand, Robert S. Lennie K.C., one of the founding Patrons of the VSDAA, simply expanded his support of the arts and became a Patron and Director of the new school as well.

"Au Revoir Au Revoir" broadside from THE SAVARY PUDDING.

The School began taking summer trips up the coast, going to Vaucroft for the first trip, and then to Savary Island for the succeeding summer's trips. The students, teachers, and chaperones traveled to Savary Island by Union Steamship, and stayed at the Royal Savary Hotel once they arrived. The students published a daily newsletter called "The Savory Pudding", in which they gossiped, told tales and jokes, and did little sketches.

Graduating Students, 1935-36

The Graduates' Association of the art school started a newsletter called The Smock Pocket, a mimeographed collection of information about graduates and their doings. The Spring 1936 edition was the second issue of the newsletter, and noted that "The Annual Exhibition of the Vancouver School of Art will take place this year from May 29th. until June 7th, in the North Room of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Opening Ceremony takes place at 2:30 P.M. on the 29th, at which time the presentation of diplomas to this year's graduating class will also be made."

By 1935 the art school's 1935 graduation annual was called Behind The Palette.

Behind the Palette for the 1935-36 school year.

Prospectus for the 1936-37 school year.

Prospectus for the 1938-39 school year.

Behind the Palette for the 1939-40 school year.

Behind the Palette artwork in the 1939-40 school year.

Contributing Students to Behind the Palette 1939-40.

In 1940 Charles H. Scott wrote an article for a history of the first fifty years of Vancouver High Schools.

Prospectus for the 1940-41 school year.

Prospectus for the 1942-43 school year.

A 1947 advertisement

The VSDAA changed its name to the Vancouver School of Art, and in 1936 moved into the old Vancouver (Central) High School at Cambie and Dunsmuir. It weathered the Depression and the Second World War, continuously graduating new artists, many of whom went on to long-lasting careers as major West Coast artists.

Prospectus for the 1945-46 school year.

Prospectus for the 1947-48 school year.

In 1951 the school moved into the renovated former Vancouver School Board building at Dunsmuir and Hamilton. In 1963 they moved into a new building at 549 Dunsmuir that had been designed and built for the school.

Prospectus for the 1954-55 school year.

The art school in 1954, from the 1954-55 Prospectus.

Prospectus for the 1956-57 school year.

Prospectus for the 1957-58 school year.

A 1958 advertisement

A 1959 advertisement

The School eventually moved to new premises on Granville Island in 1979, changing its name again, first to Emily Carr College of Art, and then to Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design (ECIAD). It was granted the right to confer degrees, and continued to expand. In 2001 it was one of a group of educational institutions in Vancouver who were donated a large piece of land on Great Northern Way, and the art school began to develop a second campus for the first time. In 2008 the art school was granted university status, and renamed Emily Carr University. In 2017 the University moved to its new campus at 520 E. 1st Avenue.

Prospectus for the 1960-61 school year.

For many years the Graduate Roll of the Art School was drawn calligraphically on large sheets, at least four of which have been framed and now repose in the university's board room. The first sheet listed the graduates from classes 1929 through 1936, and was drawn by Alice Bryant. The subsequent three sheets cover the graduating classes up to and including 1951. Names from those four sheets have been compiled into the list of students and graduates from 1925 - 1950. Additionally, a list of students attending the school has been compiled from school annuals, prospectii, the graduate rolls, and newspaper clippings. See List of Students and Graduates for more information.


1926 First Annual Student Exhibition
1927 Second Annual Student Exhibition
1928 Third Annual Student Exhibition
1929 First Annual Graduate Student Exhibition
(continued annually to present)


Refer also to REFERENCE INDEX for a listing of art school exhibitions and graduation catalogues.

Refer also to CLIPPINGS 1925 for a series of Reports on the school after its first year of operation.

Prospectus for the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts
      1925-1926 contains staff list, course content. fees, rules and regulations
      1926-1927 contains pass list from previous year; illustrations of student work, courses, rules, staff

The Paint Box, Annual of the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts
      June 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930.
      Contains articles, poems, lectures, list of students, class reports, illustrations of student work.
      See Places To Sketch and Composition from June 1926 and 1927 issues.

Behind The Palette, Annual of the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts
      June 1931 - 1947 (?).
      Articles, poems, lectures, list of students, class reports, student work.
      See Evening School 1940, and A Short Art History of British Columbia 1947

THE SAVARY PUDDING folio by Frederick A. Amess, private collection.
   Original drawings, paintings and text by Amess, C.H. Scott, Grace Melvin,
       H. Mortimer Lamb, Plato von Ustinov, and other students and visitors.
   June 1935 (various dates), June 1939 (various dates)
   52 loose 12"x18" sheets of brown sketch paper

The Smock Pocket, mimeographed newsletter of the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts Graduates' Association.
      Fall 1935 - Spring 1936 - ?
      Association Executive, graduates' activities, weddings, births, awards, studios, etc.

Vancouver School of Art - The Early Years, 1925 - 1939, by E. Theodore Lindberg
      1980 Sept. 15 - Oct 15, The Inaugural Exhibition of the Charles H. Scott Gallery; no ISBN
      Exhibition catalogue, 36 pages; instructor & student work illustrated in colour and b&w
      Includes Introduction by Robin Mayer; historical survey, list of paintings, bibligraphy.

Vancouver School of Art - The Growth Years, 1939 - 1965, by E. Theodore Lindberg
      1983 April 8 - May 3, at the Charles H. Scott Gallery; no ISBN.
      Exhibition catalogue, 48 pages; instructor & student work illustrated in colour and b&w
      Includes Introduction by Robin Mayer; historical survey, list of paintings.

First Class - Four Graduates From The Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts
      1987, Letia Richardson; The Floating Curatorial Gallery at Women in Focus
      Exhibition catalogue; ISBN 0-921823-03-7
      Includes survey essay of women artists in Vancouver.
      Chronologies of Lilias Farley, Irene Hoffar Reid, Beatrice Lennie, and Vera Weatherbie.

Visions, Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design newsletter
      A series of biographical sketches of early artists involved with the school (students and teachers).
      Written by Michael Clark, Circulation Librarian, ECIAD.
      Each biography is one page or less.
      Listed chronologically in order of publication:
          Vera Weatherbie, 1995 September, Volume 2 Issue 1, page 5; 2 illustrations.
          Unity Bainbridge, 1996 January, Volume 2 Issue 2, page 7; 2 illustrations.
          Grace Melvin, 1996 April, Volume 2 Issue 3, page 8; 1 illustration.
          Charles H. Scott, 1996 September, Volume 3 Issue 1, page 2; 1 illustration.
          E.J. Hughes, 1997 January, Volume 3 Issue 2, page 6; 2 illustrations.
          Emily Carr, 1997 May, Volume 3 Issue 3, page 4; 2 illustrations.
          Mary Gordon, 1997 October, Volume 4 Issue 1, page 7; 2 illustrations.
          Maisie Robertson, 1998 March, Volume 4 Issue 2, page 7; 2 illustrations.
          Ada Currie, 1998 September, Volume 5 Issue 1, page 6; 3 illustrations.
          Maud Sherman, 1999 January, Volume 5 Issue 2, page 6; 3 illustrations.
          Irene Hoffar Reid, 1999 April, Volume 5 Issue 3, page 6; 3 illustrations.
          Orville Fisher, 1999 September, Volume 6 Issue 1, page 6; 4 illustrations.
          Ada Currie, 2000 January, Volume 6 Issue 2, page 6; 3 illustrations.
          Beatrice Lennie, 2000 April, Volume 6 Issue 3, page 6; 3 illustrations.
          Paul Goranson, 2001 January, Volume 7 Issue 2, page 6; 2 illustrations.
          Grace Melvin, 2001 July, Volume 7 Issue 3, page 10; 2 illustrations.
          Kate Adeline Smith Hoole, 2001 November, Volume 8 Issue 1, page 4; 2 illustrations.

Art Is All Over, articles by Radul, Copeland, Steiner, Lum, Gigliotti/Laiwan/Cutler
      2001; the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design; ISBN 0-921356-22-6
      "On The Occasion of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary" of the art school
      Includes essays; timeline, illustrated with instructor and student work.
      Historical survey Years : Ahead of Its Time, by Greg Bellerby & Renee van Halm
      To accompany archival exhibition Years : Ahead of Its Time, Concourse Gallery 2000


"Art School To Stage Exhibit"
      Vancouver Province, June 14 1926

"RECENT and present controversy regarding education in British Columbia suggests that the time is again opportune for stating the aims and objects of certain schools ... "
      From "A British Columbian School of Art" by Charles H. Scott
      The B.C. Teacher, June 1932

"For the past few years very important inspirational influences have been at work. Of these, the chief stimulant has come from the School of Applied and Decorative Art, founded some eight years ago, whose teaching methods on broader lines than those more commonly followed by academic institutions aim to develop rather than deaden such inherent creative powers as the student may possess."
      From "BRITISH COLUMBIA ART - Significance of First "All British Columbia Show" by Harold Mortimer Lamb
      Saturday Night, December 10 1932

"This year Charles H. Scott, director of the Vancouver Art School, has chosen Savary Island for the third annual summer session, and pupils will leave June 9, returning to Vancouver on June 20."
      From "In The Domain of Art" by Reta W. Myers
      Vancouver Province, May 5 1934

"Industrial Art of Vancouver Students"
      Vancouver Sun, May 26 1934

"Art Students Show Their Adaptability" by T.H.W.
      News Herald, May 30 1934

"Art School Graduation Ceremony Today"
      Vancouver Sun, May 1936

"Graduation at Art Gallery"
      Vancouver Sun, May 28 1937

"Seven Gain Art Diplomas"
      (unknown newspaper), June 1937

"School of Art Scholarships Presented"
      News Herald, September 1938

"Fine Showing of Pottery And Textile Designs At Art Gallery" by M.V. Thornton
      Vancouver Sun, September 6 1940

"B.C. Ceramic Art Dislayed At Gallery"
      Vancouver Province, September 9 1940