TABLE OF CONTENTS

Collection Summary

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Organization of the Collection

Index Terms

Administrative Information 

Processing Information

Preferred Citation

Contact Information

Series Level Descriptions

1 - Correspondence : 1833-1953, 1962, predominant 1870-1900.

2 - Historical notes and newspaper clippings: 1887-1984.

3 - Financial and legal documents: 1839, 1855-1905.

4 - Photographs: ca. 1835-ca. 1950, predominant ca. 1880-ca. 1900.

5 - Painting materials: ca. 1850-ca. 1910.

6 - Miscellaneous objects: ca. 1800-ca. 1900. 

7 - Notebooks: 1833-1841, 1854-1855. 

Box List

SERIES 1 - Correspondence 

SERIES 2 - Historical notes and newspaper clippings

SERIES 3 - Financial and legal documents

SERIES 4 - Photographs

SERIES 5 - Painting materials

SERIES 6 - Miscellaneous objects

SERIES 7 - Notebooks

National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives

Robert Whale Family fonds:

Finding Aid



Collection Summary

Title: Robert Whale Family fonds. 
Dates: – ca. 1800-1984, predominant 1870-1900. 
Quantity:  – 21 cm of textual records and other material. 

Biographical Sketch

Robert Reginald Whale was born in the Cornish village of Altarnun, England, in 1805, and began drawing and painting before the age of 10. Self-taught as an artist, Whale developed his craft by copying paintings of Sir Joshua Reynolds at Lord Saville's House in Oakhampton and through careful study of works in London's National Gallery. In 1837 Whale married Ellen Heard of Bideford, England. The two immigrated with their six children to Canada in 1852, settling in Burford, Ontario. In Canada, Whale became known mainly for his portraits of local residents and for his landscapes of Dundas, Hamilton, Niagara Falls, and other centres in southwestern Ontario. He received honours for several landscapes exhibited at the International Exhibition, London, in 1862, and in 1868 his paintings were included in the Ontario Provincial Exhibition held in Hamilton. Whale joined the Ontario Society of Artists as a charter member in 1872 and exhibited in the group's exhibitions from 1873 to 1882. In 1881 Whale was elected an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy and contributed works to their exhibitions from 1881 until 1886. After his wife's death in 1871, Whale accompanied his son, Robert, to England. Returning four years later, Whale moved to Brantford, Ontario, where he worked until his death in July 1887.

John Claude Whale, Whale's second son, was born during his parents voyage to Canada in 1852. Like his father, he was self-taught as an artist and specialized mainly in portraits and landscapes. As a young man John Claude Whale spent several years in Montreal, Ottawa, St. Catharines, and other towns in southern Ontario. Later on he conducted sketching classes in New Hampshire and Vermont. John Claude Whale's final years were spent in Brantford, where he died in 1905.

Whale's youngest son, Robert Heard Whale, was born in Burford, Ontario, in 1857. He received his early art training from his father and later studied in London at the Royal Academy and in Paris at the Academie Julien, under Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant and William-Adolphe Bouguereau. In 1890, after teaching art in Brantford, Ottawa, and St. Thomas, Robert Heard Whale moved to Capetown, South Africa, where he was appointed art master and technical instructor at the local art school. He died in Capetown in 1909.

John Hicks Whale, the son of Whale's brother, Thomas, was born in 1829 in Liskeard, England. He came to Canada in the early 1850s and in 1856 married his cousin, Mary, Robert Reginald Whale's daughter. Despite working mainly as a house painter and decorator, John Hicks Whale received prizes for many of the landscapes, portraits, and animal, marine, and historical paintings he presented at local fairs in southern Ontario towns, such as Paris, Brantford, Norwich, and New Durham. John Hicks Whale died in Brantford in 1905.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The fonds consists of correspondence, financial records, legal documents, newspaper clippings, genealogical notes, and miscellaneous items related to Robert Reginald Whale and his descendants. Among the miscellaneous items are various painting materials belonging to Robert Reginald Whale and John Hicks Whale. Although most of the material in the fonds relates to Whale's nephew, John Hicks Whale and his family, there are also items pertaining to John Claude Whale and Robert Heard Whale.

Source of supplied title proper: Title based on contents of fonds.

Language: Text in English.

Immediate source of acquisition: The first collection of Whale items was donated to the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives by the Hill family, descendants of John Hicks Whale in October 2004. A second donation, including a notebook and a sketchbook, was made by John Hill in 2008.

Physical description: Other material includes 122 b&w photographs, 1 colour photograph, 1 colour slide, and 27 objects.

Finding aids: Series level descriptions and box list available.

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Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into 7 series.
Series 1 - Correspondence, 1833-1953, 1962, predominant 1870-1900.
Series 2 - Historical notes and newspaper clippings, 1887-1984.
Series 3 - Financial and legal documents, 1839, 1855-1905.
Series 4 - Photographs, ca. 1835-ca. 1950, predominant ca. 1880-ca.1900.
Series 5 - Painting materials, ca. 1850-ca. 1910.
Series 6 - Miscellaneous objects, ca. 1800-ca. 1900.
Series 7 - Notebooks, 1833-1841, 1854-1855.

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Index Terms

Names:
Whale, John Claude, 1852-1905
Whale, John Hicks, 1829-1905
Whale, Robert Heard, 1857-1909
Whale, Robert Reginald, 1805-1887
Subjects:
Art -- Canada
Art -- History -- 19th century
Document Types:
Artifacts.
Clippings.
Correspondence.
Objects.
Photographs.
Slides.

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Administrative Information

Processing Information

Collection processed and finding aid prepared by Philip Dombowsky in 2008. The second accrual was processed by Kira A. Brown in 2011.

Preferred Citation

[Title of item], Robert Whale Family fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.

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Contact Information

Cyndie Campbell
Head, Archives, Documentation and Visual Resources
Library and Archives
National Gallery of Canada
380 Sussex Drive
P.O. Box 427, Station A
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 9N4
 
T 613-990-0597
F 613-990-9818
 
ccampbel@gallery.ca 


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Series Level Descriptions

 

Correspondence. – 1833-1953, 1962, predominant 1870-1900. – 5 cm of textual records. 

Series consists mainly of correspondence between members of the John Hicks Whale family. There are also a few letters addressed to members of the Whale family from friends and associates. Included are several letters written by John Hicks Whale to his wife and their children during his travels in Ontario and England. Letters after 1905 are addressed mainly to Mrs. John Hicks Whale and her son, Reginald Whale. The content of the letters in this series mostly pertain to family matters but there is also a letter from Robert Whale that provides information on his family, his education, and his career in England and Canada. Also included are letters from John Hicks Whale written while he was travelling with Robert Whale. These letters contain information concerning travel arrangements, details about various fairs, and names of some of Robert Whale's sitters. 
Source of supplied title proper: Title based on contents of series.
Arrangement: Correspondence is arranged in reverse chronological order. Undated material is filed at the front of the first correspondence file. A letter from John Whale to his parents dated June 13, 1854 is located in the Notebooks series.
Finding aids: Box list available.

See Box List for this Series

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Historical Notes and newspaper clippings. – 1887-1984. – 5 cm of textual records. 

Series comprises notes on family history and newspaper clippings related to the history of the Whale family. Many of the historical notes were written by Reginald Whale, the youngest child of John Hicks Whale and the grandson of Robert Reginald Whale. Newspaper clippings mostly relate to the careers of Robert Reginald Whale, John Claude Whale, and Robert Heard Whale. Included is a lengthy obituary of Robert Reginald Whale from the Brantford Daily Expositor. A file on the Glenhyrst Commission, a predecessor of the Glenhyrst Art Gallery, is also included in this series. 
Source of supplied title proper: Title based on contents of series.
Arrangement: Newspaper clippings are arranged in reverse chronological order. Undated clippings are stored at the front of the file.
Finding aids: Box list available.

See Box List for this Series

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Financial and legal documents. – 1839, 1855-1905. – 9 cm of textual records. 

Series consists of financial documents, account books, and legal documents. Legal documents mostly pertain to properties owned by John Hicks Whale. Other legal documents include the last will and testament of Robert Reginald Whale. An inventory of pictures for sale by John Claude Whale from 1905 and two account books, one kept by John Hicks Whale during the years 1872 to 1901 and the other kept by Robert Heard Whale in 1882, are also included in the series.
Source of supplied title proper: Title based on contents of series.
Arrangement: Legal documents are arranged in reverse chronological order.
Finding aids: Box list available.

See Box List for this Series

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Photographs. – ca. 1835-ca. 1950, predominant ca. 1880-ca. 1900. – 124 photographs: multiple processes. 

Series primarily consists of photographs of Whale family members and friends. Many of the photographs are studio portraits and most of the images have inscriptions identifying the persons depicted. The largest group of photographs depict John Hicks Whale and his descendants. There are also photographs of Robert Reginald Whale, John Claude Whale, and Robert Heard Whale.
Source of supplied title proper: Title based on contents of series.
Physical description: Photographs include 122 b&w photographs (including 3 tintypes and 1 handcoloured ambrotype), 1 colour photograph, and 1 colour slide.
Finding aids: Box list available.

See Box List for this Series

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Painting materials. – ca. 1835-ca. 1910. – 25 objects. 

Series consists of painting materials owned by Robert Reginald Whale and his descendants. Included is a wooden easel that belonged to Robert Reginald Whale, a decorative wooden paint box made in 1882 with "R. Whale" inscribed in gold letters on the lid, a palette signed "J.C. Whale 1892," a wooden box containing 15 tubes of paint, an extendable brush, and a wooden maulstick. Three of the tubes of paint were made by a company active in Toronto in the early part of the 20th century. Also included is a compass set that belonged to Whale family builders, a palette formerly owned by Robert Reginald Whale, and two watercolour boxes that belonged to Robert Heard Whale.
Source of supplied title proper: Title based on contents of series.
Finding aids: Box list available.

See Box List for this Series

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Miscellaneous objects. – ca. 1800-ca. 1900. – 2 objects. 

Series comprises two miscellaneous objects, including a sextant and a pendant. The sextant belonged to Robert Reginald Whale's father-in-law, Captain William Heard, a sea captain who brought immigrants to Canada. The pendant belonged to Robert Reginald Whale and includes the words "Hope, Love, Truth," as part of its design. 
Source of supplied title proper: Title based on contents of series.
Finding aids: Box list available.

See Box List for this Series

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Notebooks. – 1833-1841, 1854-1855. – 1 notebook : 19.5 cm x 10 cm , 1 sketchbook : 17 cm x 11 cm , and 1 letter. 

Series consists of a notebook and a letter belonging to John Hicks Whale. The notebook contains an account of jobs undertaken between January and December 1855. The letter was written by John Whale to his parents in Burford, Ontario on June 13, 1854 and was sent before he travelled to Quebec. Also included is a sketchbook belonging to Robert Whale containing various sketches and a loose note written to his niece on the back of a photograph depicting Bideford Bridge. The material in this series was donated to the National Gallery of Canada by John Hill in 2008. 
Source of supplied title proper: Title based on contents of series.
Finding aids: Box list available.

See Box List for this Series

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Detailed Description of the Collection


Box List

Series 1 - Correspondence 

Box Folder
Box 1 File 1 Correspondence, 1833-1878, predominant 1870-1878
File 2 Correspondence, 1881-1895
File 3 Correspondence, 1900-1921
File 4 Correspondence, 1931-1953, 1962

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Series 2 - Historical notes and newspaper clippings 

Box Folder
Box 1 File 5 Newspaper clippings, 1887-1984
File 6 Genealogical notes
File 7 Glenhyrst Commission, 1957-1958, 1969
Box 2 File 1 Family Bible
File 2 School exercise book
File 3 Notebook entitled "Account of Time 1852" belonging to Robert Whale, brother of John Hicks Whale
File 4 Notebook containing miscellaneous notes

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Series 3 - Financial and legal documents 

Box Folder
Box 3 File 1 Legal documents, 1839, 1855-1899
File 2 John Hicks Whale account book, 1872-1901
File 3 Robert Heard Whale account book, 1882
File 4 Inventory of pictures for sale by John Claude Whale, March 22, 1905

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Series 4 - Photographs 

Box Folder
Box 4 File 1 Robert Reginald Whale and Ellen Whale *note: file contains 7 b&w photographs, including 1 hand-coloured ambrotype in a velvet-lined case
File 2 John Claude Whale and family *note: file contains 3 b&w photographs
File 3 Robert Heard Whale and family *note: file contains 11 b&w photographs
File 4 John Hicks Whale and family *note: file contains 39 b&w photographs, including 1 b&w tintype
File 5 Whale family and friends *note: file contains 35 b&w photographs
File 6 Whale family photograph album *note file contains 11 b&w photographs, including 2 b&w tintypes
File 7 Altarnun, Bideford, and Liskeard, England *note: file contains 11 b&w photographs
File 8 Art works *note: file contains 4 b&w photographs, 1 colour photograph, and 1 colour slide
Box 5 File 1 Robert Reginald Whale *note: file contains 1 b&w photograph with chalk overlay

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Series 5 - Painting materials 

Box Folder
Box 6 Wooden painter's box with palette and extendable brush *note: The upper left corner of the inside of the box lid includes an inscription in pencil that reads, "Made by Chas. Ellis Grand Trunk Shop Brantford, Ont. 1882." An inscription on the bottom reads, "Box made by Mr. Charles Ellis at Grand Trunk Shop Brantford, Ont., 1882." The palette is inscribed "J.C. Whale 1892."
Watercolour boxes and palette
Box 7 Wooden box with 15 tubes of paint
Box 8 Wooden easel
Wooden maulstick

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Series 6 - Miscellaneous objects 

Box Folder
Box 9 Sextant owned by Captain William Heard
Box 10 "Hope, Love, Truth" pendant

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Series 7 - Notebooks 

Box Folder
Box 11 Notebooks and letter

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