TABLE OF CONTENTS
Allister Grosart fonds:
Allister Grosart was born on December 13, 1906 in Dublin, Ireland, and raised in Shandong province, China where he attended the China Inland Mission School until 1923. He studied politics and law at the University of Toronto (1923-27) and served in the Irish Regiment of Canada during World War II. Grosart worked as a journalist with the Toronto Daily Star and the Globe and Mail before becoming involved in public relations, first with McKim Advertising Ltd. and later as a campaign manager for the Progressive Conservative Party. He ran George Drew's national leadership campaign in 1948 and later became National Director of the Progressive Conservative Association, organizing four election campaigns between 1957 and 1963. He was appointed by John Diefenbaker to the Canadian Senate in 1962, where he served as deputy leader of the opposition from 1974-79 and speaker from 1979-80. He retired from the Senate in 1981. Throughout his life, Grosart maintained an interest in Canadian art. While travelling as John Diefenbaker's campaign organizer in 1962, Grosart learned about Ojibway artist Norval Morrisseau (1932-2007) from John Alexander 'Pete' Robertson (1913-1965), a Canadian Pacific Railway train conductor and fellow Conservative party member who was later appointed to the Senate.
Norval Morrisseau grew up on the Sand Point reserve near Lake Nipigon, Ontario. He relocated in 1959 to Cochenour, Ontario with his wife Harriet Kakegamic (1935-1995) and children, where he was employed as a flotation operator in the mill attached to the Willans Mine. After corresponding with Morrisseau and receiving a letter of recommendation from anthropologist Selwyn Dewdney (1909-1979), Grosart arranged to send Morrisseau $900 so that he could leave his mining job and return to Lake Nipigon to concentrate on his painting. It was there that Morrisseau met Toronto-based art dealer Jack Pollock (1930-1992), who was instrumental in exposing Morrisseau's art to a wider audience. Pollock organized the first major exhibition of Morrisseau paintings and drawings at his Toronto gallery in September 1962, and Grosart was asked to officiate at the opening ceremony.
In January 1965, Grosart formed a trust to oversee the management of Morrisseau's income. Grosart's co-trustees were Madeleine Cooper (a field worker at the Department of Public Welfare) and lawyer Douglas Rutherford. Morrisseau's paintings were shown in two solo exhibitions in 1965 – at Hart House Gallery, Toronto, and Galerie Agnès Lefort, Montreal – and his book Legends of My People, the Great Ojibway, was published through Ryerson Press. The trust was dissolved in January 1966. Grosart died on February 8, 1984 following a heart attack.
Fonds consists of correspondence, newspaper clippings, and assorted papers accumulated by Allister Grosart in the course of his involvement with Norval Morrisseau. Correspondence includes letters to and from Norval Morrisseau, Pete Robertson, Selwyn Dewdney, Jack Pollock, Douglas Rutherford, Madeleine Cooper, and Susan Damania of Ryerson Press. Flora MacDonald (1926-), then Grosart's secretary, transcribed many of Morrisseau's handwritten letters and also wrote letters on behalf of Grosart. The fonds also includes a copy of the trust agreement of 1965, Grosart's speech for the 1965 Hart House Gallery opening, materials relating to Grosart's loan of a Morrisseau painting to the Gallery/Stratford in 1979, and one partial black and white photograph (ca. 1962) showing two paintings by Morrisseau.
Source of title: Title based on content of fonds.
Immediate source of acquisition: The fonds was donated to the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives by Allister Grosart's stepdaughter, Jane Galbraith, Toronto, Ontario, 2012.
Terms governing use and reproduction: Permission to reproduce or publish material from the Allister Grosart fonds must be obtained from the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.
Finding aids: Box list available.
Related material: Records relating to Norval Morrisseau can also be found in the Nancy Robinson Villarroel fonds, the Paul and Mary Okanski fonds, and the photograph files series and artist files series of the Dominion Gallery fonds at the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.
General note: Other records relating to Allister Grosart can be found in the Allister Grosart fonds at Library and Archives Canada. Textual records and graphic materials related to Norval Morrisseau are located at the Glenbow Archives and at Library and Archives Canada.
Collection arranged and described by Lisa Harrison in 2012.
[Title of item], Allister Grosart fonds, Library and Archives, National Gallery of Canada.
Head, Archives, Documentation and Visual Resources
Library and Archives
National Gallery of Canada
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