Why we admire Emily Carr

What's that, Amy? You thought of someone in the 19th century you'd like to meet? Emily Carr, the painter?


Well, she was also a writer. And as we all know you luuuuv writers. Just kidding. Although I did bring you to life, remember? Yeah, yeah, I know. You still want a computer. They don't exist in the 19th century. So, nah, not gonna happen.


Emily Carr was born in 1871.
Her parents arrived from Britain to live in Victoria, B.C., where her father became a successful retailer. Emily grew up with one brother and four older sisters in a home that strictly adhered to the values and etiquette of England.


Always enjoying artwork, Emily travelled to San Francisco to take up painting at the California  School of Design when she was eighteen.

It seems that Emily showed an interest in Aboriginal art from an early age. Totem poles are prominent in her work

By 1913 Emily produced a considerable body of paintings, but still didn't make enough money from their sales. For income, she owned an apartment rental home in Victoria, but managing the home left her little time for painting.

It wasn't until Emily was in her 50's when her work was discovered, and her paintings of Aboriginal themes were brought to the attention of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

When Emily attended the opening of West Coat Aboriginal art in Ottawa in 1927, she met members of the Group of Seven. They welcomed her as an artist of their own caliber.

So, what about Emily's writing, you ask?

Well, when she unfortunately suffered a heart attack in 1937, it led her to put more time into her writings. Her first book of short stories was called Klee Wyck, and was based on her experiences with the Aboriginal people. It was published in 1941. This book won the Governor General's award. Four other books of Emily Carr's were published, two of them after her death.

Her childhood home, the Emily Carr House, was sold to a private owner before being saved from demolition by MP David Groos in 1965. In 1976, the provincial government bought the property and help restored the building to its original state. Emily Carr House is a National and Provincial site in Victoria, B.C. - an ideal visit for those interested in learning about this Canadian icon.