Main Page About Us Whats Happening E-Mail Us Galleries Genealogy Norfolk Historical Highlights Links Location Navigation Bar
NHS Museum Logo
Norfolk Historical Society 
William Edgar Cantelon
  MainPage Cantelon Gallery

An outstanding painter 
historical subjects

William Edgar Cantelon was an outstanding painter of historical subjects. He devoted a great part of his life to painting historical buildings, personalities and scenes in Norfolk County.


These now form the body of the Eva Brook Donly Museum�s large and unique collection of art pertaining to the county�s early history.

Mr. Cantelon was born near Streetsville and started painting at an early age. He studied art in Chicago and came to Simcoe from Georgetown as a young man. He lived in Woodhouse Township, but maintained an art studio in Simcoe for many years.

He became curator of the Norfolk Historical Society, in which capacity he served over a long period of years. He was responsible for assembling the nucleus of the historical relics which ere first stored in the basement of the Simcoe Public Library and which represented the beginning of our present fine museum. He devoted a great amount of time and effort to this task without any financial recompense.

At the same time, Mr. Cantelon commenced his series of paintings of pioneer buildings, historical landmarks and of famous sons and daughters of Norfolk County, such as Egerton Ryerson and Abigal Becker. So valuable were these paintings considered that the Ottawa Public Archives was anxious to purchase them. But Mr. Cantelon steadfastly declined to permit them to leave the community.

Ultimately in the late forties through the leadership of Dr. Ralph Smith, then president of the Norfolk Historical Society, a fund-raising campaign to purchase the complete set of Cantelon paintings was initiated. Aided by a grant from the Norfolk, County Council, this campaign raised upwards of $ 4,000 to compensate Mr. Cantelon for the magnificent collection of over three hundred paintings. Earlier, some forty of the Cantelon paintings had been purchased by the late Guthrie Y. Barber of New York, a native son of Simcoe, who presented them to the Norfolk Historical Society.

Actually, it was the interest and activity of Mr. Cantelon that kept the Norfolk Historical Society alive and resulted in the Museum. For many years, he rode his bicycle up and down the concessions of Norfolk County, gathering historical relics and painstakingly painting scenes which he felt should be preserved.

Mr. Cantelon died on March 3rd, 1950, in his 84th year. He left a priceless legacy in the Cantelon paintings now on exhibit in the Eva Brook Donly Museum.

Visit the Cantelon Gallery

Copyright �1996-2000 Norfolk Historical Society  Incorporated. All rights reserved.