William Perkins Bull Historic Collection Finds a Permanent Home at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives
BRAMPTON, ON (Nov. 27, 2017) – Today, the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives (PAMA) shared a behind-the-scene look at the newly donated and recently reconstituted William Perkins Bull Collection.
Perkins Bull Collection Facts
- The full scope of what now forms the William Perkins Bull Collection includes approximately 48 metres of archival material, 245 historic artifacts* and 66 works of art
- Collection records are used extensively for publications, exhibits, research and social media
- Researchers and Archives staff use the resources of this collection every single day
“A true highlight of Peel and Canada 150 for PAMA is the remarkable gift of the William Perkins Bull Collection,” said PAMA Manager, Marty Brent. “This exceptional collection of archival records, art and historical objects is a precious legacy. It is an unparalleled window into Peel’s and Canada’s past.”
“On behalf of the Perkins Bull Foundation, may I express appreciation to the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA) for its continued stewardship of my grandfather’s remarkable collection of art, artifacts, and archival material, amassed over many years and through a multitude of experiences. I cannot think of anywhere more appropriate for this collection to be housed and made available to future generations seeking to learn more about the history and heritage of Peel County, of Ontario and, indeed, of Canada.” said Professor Thomas H.B. Symons.
The Bull family moved to Peel County soon after William’s birth in 1870 establishing a large cattle farm on land that is now much of Peel Village. In his young adult years, he practised law successfully, becoming Timothy Eaton’s personal solicitor and by 1908, the youngest King’s Counsel in the British Empire. During WW1 the Bull family was living in England and established an ‘open house’ for Canadian officers overseas. This became the Perkins Bull Hospital for Convalescent Canadian Officers. Among their many Canadian patients were Canadian solider, diplomat, Governor General of Canada (1959 – 1967) Georges Vanier and decorated World War I flying ace Billy Bishop.
After returning to Canada Bull was injured in a serious car accident. During his convalescence he decided to write a brief family history. That effort became a visionary, proactive and comprehensive history project. Perkins Bull was among the first to recognize the historical and cultural value of Peel historical records and objects.
Painting by Gertrude Spurr Cutts, Streetsville, c. 1910
Spurr Cutts was born in northern England. She began her artistic career there, exhibiting her paintings with the Royal Society of Artists and the Society of Women Artists. In her middle age she emigrated to Canada, eventually settling in Toronto. During a brief stay in New York City she studied at the Art Students League with George Bridgman, Birge Harrison and John F. Carlsen. Best known for her watercolour paintings and pen and ink renderings of the rural landscape, Spurr Cutts brought to her subject matter an evocative, emotive romantic pastoralism as seen in this landscape of Streetsville.
Painting by James Richard Tate, South of Alton, c. 1935
Tate’s landscapes of places in and around Peel Region display a rare charm, sensitivity and affection for place and subject matter.
Harvest Field in Albion and Barn Near Palgrave, 1933
Painted by Frederick G. Banting
These Caledon scenes painted by Frederick Grant Banting (1891-1941), Canada’s Nobel Prize winning co-discoverer of insulin. He often mentioned that he would have liked to have retired from medicine to spend more time on his art. Around the time of his ground-breaking insulin research in the early 1920s, Banting became friends with Group of Seven artists A.Y. Jackson and Lawren Harris. He shared their love of the rugged Canadian landscape, painting works such as these.
Brass Knuckles, from around 1845
Most of the 19th and early 20th century historical artifacts in the Perkins Bull collection reflect daily settler farm life in Peel. Other artifacts provide a different kind of glimpse at our past, including a pair of brass knuckles owned by Peel County Police Constable James Smith in the 1850s. Used to protect one’s hands in fist-fights, brass knuckles have long been illegal to use in Canada. James Smith went on to become the Peel County Inspector of Weights and Measures in 1867.
Patient registers and guest books from The Perkins Bull Convalescent Hospital for Canadian Officers, 1916-1919: Bull and his family were living in London when the First World War erupted. At that time there were many wounded and recovering Canadian Officers in London and hotels were often full. Bull and his wife Maria opened their London home as a place of temporary accommodation and treatment. It became a place of respite for injured, ill, and battle weary Canadian Officers. The guest books and registers document the comings and goings of patients, visitors, and dignitaries including King George V and Queen Mary.
Animated folklore maps of County of Peel townships [ca. 1933]
Three unique illustrated maps of Albion, Chinguacousy, and Caledon Townships include a great number of visual references to area folklore and history (Bull referred to such maps as “animated”). Commissioned by Bull, they were hand-drawn by Gertrude Kemp, a young University of Toronto artist. Among the highlights are fanciful depictions of a sea monster living in Heart Lake, a rower paddling through flooded Brampton downtown, and prospectors looking for gold near the village of Cataract.
*Images of the artifacts are available to the media on request
PAMA is a place to explore and learn about Peel Region’s culture and heritage, and to converse, question and tell stories to help make new and fascinating connections to the surrounding community. Throughout the year, PAMA offers a variety of workshops and programs for all ages: students, families, adults and seniors. Operated by the Region of Peel, PAMA is located at 9 Wellington St. E.in Brampton. Visit pama.peelregion.ca to learn more.