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