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Early life and training
He studied at the Toronto Model School, the University of Toronto, and the Westmount Academy in Montreal, Quebec. He studied with John David Kelly in Toronto and with William Brymner at the Art Association of Montreal, Quebec. At 13, he worked in the summer on a steamer as an able bodied seaman in Montreal.
He entered the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario in 1914, but left after one year. At age 17, he joined the Dover Patrol of the Royal Canadian Navy. At the time, he was the Navy's youngest commissioned officer. He served from 1915 to 1918, on trawlers, mine sweepers, and mine layers. Upon leaving the service, he operated a woollen mill at Thurso, Quebec, where he lived for the remainder of his life. He died there in 1969.
Along with Paul Caron, Cuthbertson illustrated Blodwen Davies’ book about the Saguenay River, Saguenay, (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, Ltd., 1930). Cuthbertson also authored and illustrated Freshwater, a history of the Great Lakes, published by MacMillan, in 1931.
He became a prominent marine painter, exhibiting in major centres in Canada and the United States. His works are found in the collection of the National Archives of Canada, the Canada Steamship Lines Maritime Collection and various North American marine museums.
The Canada Steamship Lines exhibited his fully worked watercolours and maps with accompanying catalogues, in 1928 and 1942. In 1942, the exhibition travelled to London, Ontario and Fort William, Ontario and to the Mariners Museum in Newport News, Virginia.
At the National Archives of Canada, The George Cuthbertson Collection (1900-1969) consists of:
- 91 watercolours, drawings and sketches.
- 146 watercolours, gouache, pen and ink.
- 107 drawings pen and ink, pencil.
- 41 photographs b&w.
- 4 paintings tempera.
- 1 print engraving.
- 3 reproductions photo-mechanical, color process.
The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes in Kingston, Ontario features several of his works:
- drawings as a child in Toronto, Ontario
- wartime watercolours,
- charcoal study sketches done after the war.
Maritime Subjects include:
- Esquimalt, British Columbia Barquentine "Puako", "Fremona" & "Tory Head"; Dugout Canoe, "Her Majesty's Ship (HMS) Rainbow and (HMS) Algeria"
- Vancouver, British Columbia Harbour; "M.L. in Heavy Weather"; "Egeria Cutter"; "Sir Henry Harness";
- Halifax, Nova Scotia "Kingfisher"; "Triumph" at Halifax; Canadian Submarines Arriving at Halifax;
- Warwick and Knapton Canal;
- Ottawa, Ontario Ottawa River-Lake Champlain (Barge Series); Barge "Hon. L. Hill" of Whitehall, N.Y.; Ottawa Transportation Co.,
- Then Hull, Quebec now Gatineau, Quebec "Blue Barges" (6);
- Niagara, Ontario Niagara Railway Suspension Bridge;
- Mutton Harbour/ Her Majesty's Canadian Ship Acadia elevation;
- Castlegar Ferry Landing and West Robeson Canadian Pacific Railway Steamer;
- Cliff Face Construction (Caribou Road);
- A Mississippi and Ohio River Steamer,
- Pittsburg (Sailor smoking cigar); and others.
- George Adrian Cuthbertson fonds at National Archives Canada
- Cuthbertson's works donated to a museum in Kingston.