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He was an early and important artist in British Columbia history, arriving here in the early 1880s after surveying for the Canadian Pacific Railway then under construction. He served in the Boer War with the Second Canadian Mounted Rifles, awarded a medal and three clasps.
He painted and worked as a commercial artist in Vancouver from 1913 until his death in 1941, in addition to his fine art painting career. He had a one-man exhibition at the Hotel Vancouver in 1915, showing sixteen canvasses in an exhibition titled "Chunks of the Western Epic". He also exhibited with the B.C. Society of Fine Artists, the Ontario Society of Artists, the Royal Canadian Academy, and at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in St. Louis. He also designed the posters for the 1919 Victory Loan campaign in British Columbia.
Innes was a major contributor to the 1918 and 1919 issues of The Gold Stripe, published in Vancouver to honor the men who fought in "The Great War". In addition to his many pen & ink illustrations in the two volumes, there is a short biography of Innes titled "John Innes - Author, Artist, Soldier, Cowboy". The article includes a photograph of Innes.
In 1920 Innes was a founding member of the B.C. Art League. He was listed as a member of the B.C. Society of Fine Arts for only two years, 1921 and 1922. In 1926 Innes contributed two pen and ink drawings to the limited edition publication Chinook Days, by Tom McInnes.
By 1928 Innes had found a sponsor who provided the funding that enable him to complete his art epic, partially displayed earlier in "Chunks of the Western Epic", that resulted in reproductions of the series being used as illustrations for The Epic of Western Canada published in 1928, and for From Trail to Trail - the Epic of Transportation, published in 1930.
Innes had a solo exhibition of eight paintings at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1933. Following the exhibition the paintings were hung at the University of British Columbia.
In 1936 Innes provided an extensive range of illustrations for the school reader The King's Wish, the third volume of the Far Horizons series published by J.M. Dent & Sons of Toronto. He provided one full page colour frontispiece entitled "White Cloud", seven full page and one half page pen and ink drawings, and over forty page header and page break pen and ink drawings. A number of chapter and page footer drawings in the book may be by Innes or by others. The wide range of subject matter illustrated by Innes show him to be an accomplished master of pen and ink drawing, Fairies Dancing Just Before Going to Sleep for the Winter is an excellent example of his work.
In The King's Wish Innes alternately signs his drawings in full as "John Innes", usually underlined, or with a monogram. The monogram is a black capital I, in a white field surrounded by an outline that is somewhat shield shaped, flat on top and pointed at the bottom. This stands out when signed on white areas of a drawing, alternately the inner white field and the capital I stand out when signed in a black or shaded area of a drawing.
B.C. Artists at Vancouver Art Gallery: 1938
BCSFA: September 1921
|1915||Chunks of the Western Epic||Hotel Vancouver|
|1933 November 14 - 26||Eight Paintings||Vancouver Art Gallery|
|1932 Oct. 5 - 30||VAG 1st Annual B.C. Artists||Children of Immensity|
|1946 July 2 - 28||VAG Jubilee Exhibition||June 24th 1792, Martinez Claiming the Pacific Northwest for Spain|
|Old Red Cart|
|The Covered Wagon|
The Gold Stripe - Volume Two
1919, May. Published by the Amputation Club of B.C., Vancouver
220 pages (including text, advertisements and photographs)
Heavily illustrated by many early Vancouver artists.
Tragedy of the Sway-Backed Pinto
1920, Paton; written & illustrated by John Innes.
Chinook Days, by Tom McInnes (author of Roundabout Rhymes)
1926; illustrated by Josiah Smith (9 drawings) and John Innes (2 drawings).
1,000 copies printed for the opening of Grouse Mountain Highway and Scenic Resort.
WHEN FUR WAS KING by Henry John Moberley (retired Hudsons Bay Company Factor)
"In Collaboration with William Bleasdell Cameron"
1929; Published by J.M. Dent & Sons
Illustrated by John Innes
Far Horizons Book 3: The King's Wish
1936; 288 pages, hardcover
Colour frontispiece and over 50 black & white illustrations by John Innes
Published by J.M. Dent & Sons (Toronto), no ISBN.
School reader, includes "Quill Pig the Porcupine" by Ruiter Stinson Sherman
Inside cover illustration (same front and back) by Reginald L. Knowles
Who's Who in Northwest Art edited by Marion Brymner Appleton
"A Directory of Persons in the Pacific Northwest Working in the Media
of Painting, Sculpture, Graphic Arts, and Handicrafts".
1941; published by Frank McCaffrey, Seattle Washington.
Short reference to Innes.
Creative Canada - Volume One, by University of Toronto Press
1971; ISBN 0-8020-3262-1
"A biographical dictionary of twentieth-century creative and performing artists."
Includes full column of information about Innes
The Mountains and the Sky by Lorne E. Render
1974, Glenbow-Alberta Institute; published by McClelland and Stewart West
ISBN 0-7712-1001-2; 224 pages, illustrated throughout in colour and b&w
Includes biographical information on Innes and one of his paintings illustrated
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts - Exhibitions and Members 1880 - 1979
1981, Evelyn de R. McMann, University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0-8020-2366-5
Definitive list of Academy members, includes a list of all exhibited paintings.
1989, A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 2, G - Jackson, 3rd Ed.
Colin S. Macdonald, Canadian Paperbacks. ISBN 0-919554-04-0
A New Class of Art - The Artist's Print in Canadian Art, 1877 - 1920
1996, Rosemary L. Tovell, ISBN 0-88884-655-X; published by National Gallery of Canada
Technically an exhibition catalogue of travelling show, but has extensive information.
Illustrated; includes endnotes; list of works; selected references; index
An excellent overview of an important period of Canadian printmaking
Includes information on Innes with one etching illustrated
Biographical Index of Artists in Canada
2003, Evelyn de R. McMann, University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0-8020-2790-3
250 pages; 9 pages of works cited referenced to 8,800 artists
9 references listed for Innes, including CC1, M, and RCA listed above.
"In the person of John Innis (sic), British Columbia has a unique and interesting artist.
Innis was born in Quebec, and in his younger days spent many years in the West as a
cowpuncher and bronco buster, taking part in the stirring life of pioneer days on
the prairies. Later, when a newspaper artist in Toronto, he found time to produce a
portfolio of prints depicting the life of the bronco. Settled now for the past
twenty years in Vancouver, he has devoted his time to painting colourful records of
pioneering days on the coast. A series of his mural paintings, dealing with discovery
and settlement of the Province of British Columbia, has been placed in the library
of the University of British Columbia."
From Canadian Landscape Painters, Albert H. Robson; page 190
The Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1932
"A series of eight paintings depicting scenes in the early history of British
Columbia" commissioned by the Hudson's Bay Company "through the efforts of the
Native Sons of B.C. Post No. 2."
by (unknown), News Herald, November 17 1933
Artist - Native of London, Dies.
by John Bruce Cowan, The London Free Press, January 14 1941
John Innes - Rugged Individualist In Art of The New World
by (unknown), Vancouver Province, April 6 1945
John Innes - Painter of the West
by John Bruce Cowan, The London Free Press, April 1 1967
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