Charles William Jefferys

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Charles William Jefferys

Born(1869-08-25)August 25, 1869
Rochester, England
DiedOctober 8, 1951(1951-10-08) (aged 82)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Charles William Jefferys RCA (August 25, 1869 – October 8, 1951), also known as C. W. Jefferys, was a Canadian painter, illustrator, author and teacher, best known as a historical illustrator.[1]

Early life[edit]

Jefferys was born in Rochester, England to Charles Thomas Jefferys and Ellen Kennard. He moved with his family first to Philadelphia in 1875,[2] then to Hamilton, Ontario in 1878,[3] and finally to Toronto around 1880.[1] There, he attended school and was apprenticed with the York Lithography Company from 1885 to 1890.


From 1889 to 1892, Jefferys worked for the Toronto Globe as an illustrator and artist. He produced artwork for several printing companies.[4][5] From 1893 to 1901, he worked for the New York Herald.[1] Returning to Toronto, he became a newspaper, magazine and book illustrator, appearing in numerous publications, including Hardware Merchandising.[6]

Jefferys created a series of illustrations and essays for the Toronto Star Weekly, which in 1920 were published as Dramatic Episodes in Canada's Story.[7] The following year, he was chosen by the Ontario government to illustrate a textbook, Ontario Public School History of Canada, written by George Wrong.[8]

Along with Ivor Lewis and other artists, Jefferys co-founded the Graphic Arts Club (later named the Canadian Society of Graphic Art), which by the 1940s became one of the primary artists' groups in Canada. As well, from 1912 to 1939, he taught painting and drawing in the Department of Architecture at the University of Toronto.

During World War I, he was commissioned by the Canadian War Records department to paint soldiers training at Camp Petawawa and Niagara.[4] Jefferys had an interest in history, and he produced accurate and meticulous portrayals of early Canadian life. The best known collection of his historical sketches is the three volume The Picture Gallery of Canadian History (c. 1942–1960).[9]

In 1926, he was made a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.[10] He also was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists and the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour.[1] Jefferys was a founding member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto and was its president from 1923 to 1924.[11]

Death and legacy[edit]

Soon after Jefferys's death in 1952, more than 1,000 of his drawings were sold to the Imperial Oil Company, which in 1972 donated the collection to Library and Archives Canada.[12] A plaque at 4111 Yonge Street, where he died,[13] quotes him as saying,

"If my work has stirred any interest in our country and its past, I am more than paid".[12]

Jefferys received numerous awards, including an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Queen’s University in 1934.[14] C. W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute, a public high school in Toronto, is named for him.[14] There are works by him in the art collection of the Royal Military College of Canada[15] the National Gallery of Canada,[14] and the Art Gallery of Ontario.[1] A statue of Jefferys, created by Adrienne Alison, has been installed in York Mills Valley Park.[12] Jeffreys has been designated as an Historic Person in the Directory of Federal Heritage Designations.[16]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Bradfield, Helen (1970). Art Gallery of Ontario: the Canadian Collection. Toronto: McGraw Hill. ISBN 0070925046. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b David Tatham (2006). North American Prints, 1913-1947: An Examination at Century's End. Syracuse University Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-8156-3071-5.
  5. ^ "Drawing". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  6. ^ "Hardware Merchandising and C. W. Jefferys". Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. Retrieved 2022-03-09.
  7. ^ Paul Simpson-Housley; Glen Norcliffe (1 September 1992). "3". A Few Acres of Snow: Literary and Artistic Images of Canada. Dundurn. pp. 27, 38. ISBN 978-1-55488-050-8.
  8. ^ "Historicist: Sketching Cultural Nationalism". Torontoist, July 18, 2009. By Kevin Plummer
  9. ^ Dominick Grace; Eric Hoffman (20 November 2017). The Canadian Alternative: Cartoonists, Comics, and Graphic Novels. University Press of Mississippi. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-4968-1512-5.
  10. ^ "Members since 1880". Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  11. ^ "Club Presidents". Arts and Letters Club of Toronto. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  12. ^ a b c Scott Kennedy (4 March 2017). Toronto Local History 3-Book Bundle: Don Mills / 200 Years at St. John's York Mills / Willowdale. Dundurn. p. 1150. ISBN 978-1-4597-3832-4.
  13. ^ John Robert Colombo (1 January 1984). Canadian Literary Landmarks. Dundurn. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-4597-1798-5.
  14. ^ a b c "C. W. Jefferys". National Gallery of Canada. Retrieved 2021-04-03.
  15. ^ Kamille Parkinson, PhD 'An Impressive Art Collection at RMCC' (Kingston, E-veritas, June 25, 2012
  16. ^ "Directory of Federal Heritage Designations". Parks Canada. Retrieved 2022-05-29.


External links[edit]