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Memorable Manitobans: Charles Fraser Comfort (1900-1994)

Artist.

Born at Cramond (Edinburgh), Scotland in 1900, he came to Winnipeg in 1912 and studied at the Winnipeg School of Art. He began working for Brigden’s commercial design studio in 1914, later describing it as the equivalent of “a fifteenth-century old master’s studio.” In 1918 and 1919 he won the Eaton’s catalogue cover competition, and he moved to Toronto. He often exhibited with fellow Manitoba artists, especially Eric Bergman.

In 1923 he illustrated William James Healy’s Women of Red River along with Walter Joseph Phillips. His best-known painting, a watercolour portrait of fellow artist Carl Schaefer as a generic unemployed Young Canadian, was done in 1932. Comfort shuttled between Winnipeg and Toronto,working spasmodically at Brigden’s until teaching at the Ontario College of Art (1935-1938). In 1938 he began teaching at the University of Toronto, where he remained until 1960.

He was an official wartime artist for the Canadian army (1943-1946), President of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (1957-1960), and director of the National Gallery of Canada (1960-1965). He was best known for his large portraits and his murals. He was given the Order of Canada (1972).

Comfort died at Ottawa, Ontario on 5 July 1994.

See also:

Charles Comfort by Margaret Gray (1976).

Sources:

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

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

Page revised: 17 January 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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