Captain Vancouver Exploring Burrard Inlet, 1792, which was apparently commissioned by the David Spencer department store and painted by John Innes and George Henry Southwell, via a pamphlet on ebay. Southwell, you will recall, painted the murals in the Legislative Building in Victoria.
In this VanArchives photo, you can see John Innes painting another mural depicting Simon Fraser traversing the river that bears his name. This photo shows G.H. Southwell painting Captain Vancouver’s ship "Chatham" while John Innes looks on. Were these two paintings also part of the Spencer’s murals?
When I went to visit the Comfort mural a little over a year ago in the SFU great hall of art, I noticed these paintings by John Innes, dated 1925:
- Commander Vancouver Meeting with Spaniards off Point Grey, 1792
- Simon Fraser in the Fraser Canyon on his Journey to the Sea, 1808
- The Hudson’s Bay Fur Brigade Passing Down the Okanagan, 1825-1835
- James Douglas Taking the Oath as First Governor of BC, 1858
- Finding Placer Gold by Pioneer Miners in the Cariboo, 1858
- The Overland Pioneers Journeying Through the Rockies, 1862
According to this article in BC Studies, these six paintings were commissioned by the Native Sons of BC in 1922. Originally, I had presumed these paintings were all part of one big series, but now I wonder if there were two completely separate series of historical paintings; the Spencer’s paintings and the Native Sons paintings?
SFU indicates the six paintings listed above were donated by the Native Sons of BC, Post # 2, but I’m not entirely sure when this happened.
So just who were the Native Sons of BC? Modeled after the Native Sons of The Golden West in California, the Native Sons of BC existed to “promote the memory of pioneers, and to unite all worthy sons of British Columbia”. Membership was open to every male person who was born in British Columbia and had resided in the province for over 40 years. You can read more about the Native Sons of BC in this blog post here at the site for Victoria: The Unknown City. Furthermore, a PDF of the complete Native Sons ritual book can be downloaded here, courtesy of the author and blogger Ross Crockford.
If anyone can help to clarify the distinction between the Spencer’s and Native Sons paintings, please feel free to speak up!
Update! I’ve since learned from SFU that there are two more paintings in the Native Sons of BC series, both of which are in storage.
7. Alexander Mackenzie Recording his Arrival at the Pacific, 1793
8. James Douglas Building the Hudson’s Bay Post at Victoria, 1843
There were at least 2 more sets of historical paintings by Innes, which I believe became part of the HBC collection. However, the Spencer paintings remain somewhat elusive and mysterious! More to come!