Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Mary Riter Hamilton (1869-1954)


Born at Walkerton, Ontario on 7 September 1869, she came to Clearwater with her family at an early age. When she married Charles Wallace Hamilton in 1889, she moved to Port Arthur [now Thunder Bay, Ontario], where her husband was a leading merchant. He died in 1893, leaving her independently wealthy. She moved to Winnipeg and began painting china in 1894. Hamilton went to Europe in 1901 to study art, and for the most part she remained in Paris until 1911, occasionally returning to Canada. By 1905 some of her painting was exhibited at the Paris Salon. She returned to Winnipeg in 1911 to mount a major exhibition of her work. After the First World War she obtained a publisher’s commission to “reproduce the battlefields in paint,” and she remained abroad until 1922, producing over 300 paintings and innumerable sketches. Her work was exhibited in Paris in 1922 and in London in 1923. She subsequently donated most of the war paintings to the Archives of Canada. In 1929 she moved to Vancouver, British Columbia where she taught art for many years. She died at the Provincial Mental Hospital at Essondale, British Columbia on 5 April 1954. Posthumous exhibitions of her battlefield art were mounted in Victoria in 1978 and at the University of Winnipeg in 1989.

See also:

Mary Riter Hamilton: Manitoba Artist 1873-1954 by Angela E. Davis
Manitoba History, Number 11, Spring 1986

“Mary Riter Hamilton: An Artist in No-Man’s Land,” by Angela Davis, The Beaver 69, no. 5 (1989): 6-16.

No Man’s Land: The Life and Art of Mary Riter Hamilton by Kathryn Young and Sarah McKinnon, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2017.


Death registration, British Columbia Vital Statistics.

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

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 28 October 2017

Memorable Manitobans

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