Popularly referred to at times in his homeland as the "Remington of the Canadian West," and "the dean of Canadian historical artists," John Innes is known for his paintings of Indians, cowboys, wildlife, and the early "Pioneer West" of Canada. Innes was born in 1863 in London Ontario, and was educated in Ontario and in England, where he excelled in design, drafting, and painting.
Upon returning to Canada, Innes headed west, blazing a trail ahead of the Canadian Pacific Railway. His artistic ability and adventurous spirit enabled him to join a survey party in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, where he created maps and sketches with Ross, Mann and Holt. Following his service with the company, Innes took up ranching and horse wrangling. In 1885 while riding as a cowboy on his own Alberta ranch, he drew cartoons for various periodicals, and later published his own newspaper in Banff titled "Mountain Echoes."
After twelve years in the West, Innes was back in Toronto where he worked as a writer and illustrator for Canadian Magazine, and exhibited with the Ontario Society of Artists. In 1905 he traveled to Vancouver by pack train, painting en route. Innes' desire was to create a series of works depicting an era of Canadian history when the Indian, fur trader and buffalo held undisputed reign, before the coming of the cowboy and the farmer. The resulting series, "Epic of the West," exhibited throughout the country, was purchased by the Hudson's Bay Company, and now hangs in Winnipeg.
Before finally settling in Vancouver, BC, Innes enjoyed a five-year stint as a staff artist for the Hearst Newspapers in NYC. Remembered as a true bohemian and frontiersman, Innes once said, "In the cow camps, in the lodges of the long-dead chiefs...on the mountain tops, or out on the Prairies criss-crossed with buffalo trails, I have learned the lore of Western Canada."
ARTWORK: John Innes
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