I met with a colleague, who kindly showed me this wonderful artifact. Having read the story in the Winter issue of In the Hills Magazine – Illuminating the Past: Personal History he was interested to share it with the Howard family. He kindly gave Treasured Collections his blessing to share it forward.
The item is a framed “illuminated” artwork created in April 1889 by Alfred Harold “A H” Howard (1854–1916 ). Presented by the townsmen of St. Mary’s, it celebrates the retirement Mr Robert Hillyard as Manager of St. Mary’s Branch of the Bank of Montreal. Measuring 15″ x 21″, it is set in an ornate gilded frame with acid free backing and archival-glass. The signature states, “A H Howard & Wilson Designers, Toronto.”
Among the artifacts by “A H” held in local museums, archives and by family members, there are several artworks of this nature, created for specific events, such as retirements etc., many of which were for banks.
How did he come by this commission? St. Mary’s is some distance from Toronto, but “A H” did have family connections to the Mitchell and Stratford area. He was a founding member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, or maybe “A H” was so well known for his creative illustrations, that he had became the “go-to” person for the whole area.
Photograph by Frank Cooper, London, Ontario, circa 1880
After his retirement from the bank in St. Mary’s, we understand that Robert Hillyard (1822-1893), moved his family to Toronto.
The artwork was discovered during research into one of Mr Hillyard’s daughters – Caroline “Carrie” Learoyd Hillyard, (born 1866) who became an established artist, known for her portraits and landscape paintings.
Evidently, “Carrie” died with no decedents, and her many paintings were left to the housekeeper to disperse. It is believed that after Robert died, Mrs Hillyard moved to Montreal and lived beyond 100 years. There was information about a niece among the research, and connections to Oakville. The Oakville Museum held an exhibit in 2002 – Returning Home: A Carrie Hillyard Retrospective.
In time, it is hoped the artifact will join the collection of St. Mary’s area museum. For now, we are grateful to my colleague to be able to share another wonderful piece of art created by “A H” Howard.