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Memorable Manitobans: Faye Settler (1916-2004)

Antique and art dealer.

Born at Winnipeg on 13 December 1916, daughter of Maggie Wasserman (1893-2002) and Charles Brownstone (1892-1989), she moved with her family to Southey, Saskatchewan and then to Plum Coulee and Teulon. Upon returning to Winnipeg in 1928, she completed her formal education, graduating from St. John’s Technical High School. In 1938, she married Bert Settler (1916-2002), with whom she went on to have one child.

Her professional career began in 1948 when she and her mother opened a small antique shop in their neighbourhood. In the mid-1950s, the Curiosity Shop moved to downtown Winnipeg and in 1966 was augmented by the addition of the Upstairs Gallery, which exhibited work by the Group of Seven and its contemporaries. Soon after, a regular schedule of exhibitions by local and national contemporary artists was introduced. In 1967, the Curiosity Shop became a charter member of the Canadian Antique Dealers Association, and four years later the Upstairs Gallery was invited to join the Professional Art Dealers Association of Canada (PADAC, now the Art Dealers Association of Canada). She was appointed to the board of directors of PADAC in 1979 and served a three-year term. In 1972 the growth in scale of both the Curiosity Shop and the Upstairs Gallery prompted a move to a larger space on Edmonton Street, where it remained for many years.

In 1972, her increasing interest in Inuit art prompted her first visit to Baker Lake in the Northwest Territories (now Nunavut). Many trips followed and, in 1978, she was invited to attend a printmaking seminar in Ottawa, organized by the federal government. In 1984, she was invited to participate in a government task force on Inuit Art at Frobisher Bay, and again in 1985 at Baker Lake. Through her expertise and reputation she was instrumental in the development of numerous private, corporate, and public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Canadian Museum of Civilization, and Macdonald Stewart Art Centre. She gave many talks to professional and service organizations on the topics of antiques and Inuit art and was a regular guest on CBC radio programs. In 2001, she made a gift to the Winnipeg Art Gallery of the Faye and Bert Settler Inuit Collection.

She was an active and dedicated participant in all aspects of the community in which she lived. Always an advocate of the necessity for a vital downtown city core, she was an early member of the board of Downtown Biz and, in 1987, she initiated and chaired a successful ongoing project called “Gallery on the Avenue,” which exhibited the work of young artists in storefronts up and down Portage Avenue. She also maintained a lifelong involvement in the Jewish community, and as a young woman was President of the Aliyah Chapter of Hadassah. She and her husband were founding members of the Congregation of the Rosh Pina Synagogue. As well, she volunteered with a variety of agencies, including the Winnipeg Boys and Girls Club.

An enthusiastic golfer, she was an early and ongoing member of Glendale Country Club. She was also a longstanding member of the Maple Leaf Curling Club and participated on a number of teams, including a family rink made up of her mother, husband Bert, and brother-in-law Morris Settler. For many years she attended Blue Bomber games. She remained active and interested in all levels of politics, campaigning federally, provincially and municipally, guided less by partisan allegiances than by a keen sense of social fairness. Domestic pleasures included dancing, gardening, berry-picking, and making jam. At her home, she enjoyed hosting after-performance parties for the dancers of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, offering accommodations to Inuit artists travelling to southern Manitoba, and holding elaborate celebrations with family.

In 2003, she received the Manitoba Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award, and later that year travelled to Toronto to receive the Art Dealers Association of Canada Award for Lifetime Achievement.

She died at Winnipeg on 21 January 2004.

Sources:

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 26 January 2004.

This page was prepared by Lois Braun.

Page revised: 13 February 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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