Source: Meaford Museum website
Author: Gita Marie Kitawka
It is certainly true and unfortunate that in our culture we tend to undervalue artists unless they have been heavily promoted or commercially built up as celebrities.
We rather quickly forget the lives and achievements of most of our predecessors even when they had been recognized and honoured during their lifetimes. Perhaps that is why it is ever more gratifying to re-discover the life well lived and the rich enduring legacy left by Frederick S. Haines, a most accomplished, prolific and versatile artist, equally good at portraits, figure painting (gold medal from Acadamie Royale des Beaux Arts in Antwerp), landscapes and his beloved animals. As if that weren't enough, he also proved himself to be a most able educator, mentor, and administrator. Haines was the president of the Ontario Society of Artists, a founding member of the Canadian Painters in Watercolour, a founding member of Canadian Society of Etchers and Printers, the curator of the art gallery of Ontario and a well loved and most respected principal of the Ontario College of Art. At a young age he was accepted as a member of the Royal Canadian Academy and later became its president and by resigning from that "creaky venerable institution", he obtained a moral victory that led to the rewriting of its constitution.
As the commissioner of Fine Arts for the Canadian National Exhibition, Haines educated Ontarioans by introducing the paintings of Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Matisse and provided the first Canadian glimpse of Danish and Scandanavian modern design. He travelled extensively for the CNE and brought the first large show of Mexican and Southwestern Arts and Crafts to Toronto. His association with the CNE lasted from 1920 to 1951. Under Haines direction, and guidance in 1929 eight huge murals were painted for and then installed in the Dome of the Arts, Crafts and Hobbies buildings at the CNE. Even though these paintings suffered greatly through neglect and abuse over the years, restorers have worked hard to redress the deterioration. Today the Haine's murals are permanently displayed in the Direct Energy Centre at the CNE and it is well worth the trip to see them. Haines was a contemporary and friend of The Group of Seven and was instrumental in convincing his first cousin Franklin Carmichael (from Orillia) to pursue the arts professionally, a most precarious profession to choose in those times. Not something the parents would approve of without much trepidation, yet Haines was able to assuage Frank's parents fears of the moral and financial hazards of the big city.
As a more established and successful colleague of the Group of Seven, he invited Carmichael and some other members of the group to teach at the OCA, much to the benefit of its students. He was instrumental in tremendously increasing student enrollment, introducing new courses of study, and establishing a much wider participation of artists in the community by promoting advertising and industrial design.
One cannot help but speculate how Haine's life in early Meaford shaped him to become such an able artist, educator, and administrator, who made a real contribution to Canadian life and culture. It appears that Meaford was a vibrant, expanding and optimistic town in Fred's youth. The railway had just recently connected the town to Toronto, and it boasted five hotels, many taverns and a lively social life. Fred was born into an artistically inclined family. His father, George Haines, was known to have participated in the local theatre. A cooper by trade he also enjoyed playing cricket, and had other hobbies. His mother, Martha Jane, came from a large, religious, family. When her father, one of the founders of Christ Church Anglican and one of its first wardens, died, a stained glass window in his memory: "James Smith - family of ten."
Fred attended the newly built, Meaford High School and upon graduation and passing entrance exams he left for Toronto at the age of seventeen to enroll in the Central Ontario School of Art. (Later to become OCA). He was able to support himself by painting portraits and was proud to claim that from then on he could make a living by art alone. Haines married Bertha Morehouse in 1900 and was father of Dorthy (Hoover) who became the librarian at OCA and has written with love and admiration of her father.
The 50th anniversary of his death has aroused renewed interest in arts circles and especially in the town of Meaford. There, under the leadership of, Pamela Woolner, curator of the Meaford Museum, a small group of volunteers have been gathering regularly to work in a Commemorative Exhibit of Haine's work which is to open September 10th to September 30th in the galleries of Meaford Museum, Meaford Hall and Georgian Bay Secondary School. 10am and 4pm daily. One show will be a permanent collection of paintings generously donated by Haines to the Georgian Bay Secondary School in 1958 and paintings on loan, from major public and private galleries as well as from private collections.
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