109 Norfolk St. S. Simcoe, ON N3Y 2W3 - (519)426-1583

W. Edgar Cantelon

w. edgar cantelon

William Edgar Cantelon was an outstanding painter of historical subjects. He devoted a great deal of his life to painting historical buildings, personalities and scenes in Norfolk County. These now form the body of the Eva Brook Donly Museum and Archives' large and unique collection of art pertaining to Norfolk County's early history.

Mr. Cantelon was born near Streetsville (in present day Mississauga) 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 historical relics which were first stored and exhibited in the basement of the Simcoe Public Library and which represented the beginning of our present fine Museum and Archives. 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 Abigail Becker. So valuable were these paintings considered that the Ottawa-based Public Archives was anxious to purchase them. But, Mr. Cantelon steadfastly declined to permit them to leave this community. Read more about this in his own words in Cantelon on Cantelon

In the late 1940s, through the leadership of Dr. Ralph Smith, then president of the Norfolk Historical Society, a fund-raising campaign was initiated to purchase a large set of paintings still owned by Mr. Cantelon. Aided by a grant from Norfolk County Council, this campaign raised upwards of $4000 to compensate Mr. Cantelon for the magnificent collection of about three hundred paintings. In addition, Guthrie Y. Barber of New York, a native son of Simcoe, generously presented the Norfolk Historical Society with some forty Cantelon paintings he had purchased over the years.

Actually, it was the interest and activity of Mr. Cantelon which 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 his paintings, which are well represented in the Eva Brook Donly Museum and Archives Cantelon Collection.