Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Angela Elizabeth Pizzey Davis (1926-1994)

Click to enlargeArt historian, educator.

Born in Hansworth, Middlesex, England on 22 September 1926 to George Frederick Pizzey and Winifred Remnant. She was educated at The Lady Eleanor Holles School, and graduated from it in 1945. Davis entered King’s College Hospital where she graduated as a Registered Nurse in 1948. Following her graduation, she worked at King’s College Hospital as Staff Nurse in charge of the Ear, Nose and Throat Ward and then as Staff Nurse in charge of the Private Patients’ Ward. She returned to her former position as Staff Nurse in charge of the Ear, Nose and Throat Ward for the duration of her employment there.

Davis married Dr. Royden A. Davis, F.R.C.P. on 27 April 1950. The Davis’ left England for Canada in 1951. Dr. Davis was stationed in Vancouver with the Royal Canadian Air Force. During the 1950s and 1960s, Davis devoted herself to her family and community. The Davis’ had five children: Sara, Christopher, Jonathon, Rowan, and Michael. While the family was living in Regina in the mid-1960s, Davis was a founding member of one of the first cooperative childcare centres. After having been a Registered Nurse and a full-time mother, Davis began her next career in the mid-1970s when she returned to school.

Davis graduated from the University of Winnipeg with her B.A. (Hons.) in History in 1977. She completed her M.A. in 1979 and had the distinction of being the first graduate of the Joint Masters Program in History between the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. Davis continued with her studies and received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Manitoba in 1987. Davis specialized in British social and cultural history, 1815-1914; Canadian social and cultural history, 1870-1921; Canadian art history, 1840-1950; and European art history 1750-1930. Other areas of research were Canadian illustrators and engravers, 1840-1940; Canadian women artists, pre-1950; and Western Canadian prairie women 1900-1930.

Davis spent the years 1975 to 1994 employed by the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba in various positions. Davis became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Manitoba in 1988 and remained in that position until 1994, at which point she retired due to health problems.

Davis was also involved in many history related activities including consulting work, conference organizing and committee work. She was also a member of several associations including the Canadian Committee on Women’s History, Canadian Historical Association, Canadian Women’s Studies Association, European Studies Group, Manitoba Historical Society, Universities Art Association of Canada, the Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada, and the Women and History Association of Manitoba, of which she was the co-founder. Davis was also the co-founder of the Osborne Gallery in Winnipeg in 1976. She was an Art Consultant for the Gallery from 1977 to 1986. Davis was also the Guest Curator at the University of Winnipeg Gallery in 1989.

Her publications included Art and Work: A Social History of Labour in the Canadian Graphic Art Industry to the 1940s (1994) and several studies of Mary Riter Hamilton.

A longtime member of the Manitoba Historical Society, Angela served on the Society’s governing council and for a number of years chaired its Program Committee. Over her career she published a number of works in both art and women’s history and was a frequent contributor to Manitoba History.

In 1993, Davis suffered what was first thought to be a stroke. After continuing problems with her memory she was examined further. In early 1994 Davis was diagnosed with brain cancer. She maintained a positive attitude throughout her illness, helped immensely by her family and friends. Davis died in Winnipeg on October 16, 1994. Davis’ great spirit, her professionalism, and her strong interest in the work of the MHS will be sadly missed by all her colleagues and friends.

Her articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:

Laying the Ground: The Establishment of an Artistic Milieu in Winnipeg, 1890-1913
Manitoba History, Number 4, 1982

Forgotten Artist: Sir Frank Brangwyn: 1867-1956
Manitoba History, Number 7, Spring 1984

Review: Helen Coy, FitzGerald as Printmaker: A Catalogue raisonné of the First Complete Exhibition of the Printed Works
Manitoba History, Number 9, Spring 1985

Mary Riter Hamilton: Manitoba Artist 1873-1954
Manitoba History, Number 11, Spring 1986

The Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1912 and 1987: An Historical Assessment
Manitoba History, Number 17, Spring 1989

“Valiant Servants”: Women and Technology on the Canadian Prairies 1910-1940
Manitoba History, Volume 25, Spring 1993

Review: Mary Hallett and Marilyn Davis, Firing the Heather: The Life and Times of Nellie McClung
Manitoba History, Number 27, Spring 1994


Adapted from a biography with the Collected Papers of Angela E. Davis at the University of Manitoba, Archives and Special Collections, which also provided the photograph Angela Davis (St. John's College Collection, PC 141 Box 3 Fd. 2, no. 11).

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 1 November 2012

Memorable Manitobans

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