Artwork by Peter Clapham Sheppard,  Fair For Britain (Night Scene, Riverdale Park, Toronto, 1942-43)

P.C. Sheppard
Fair For Britain (Night Scene, Riverdale Park, Toronto, 1942-43)

oil on board
signed lower right; titled on the reverse
20 x 23.75 ins ( 50.8 x 60.3 cms )

Sold for $3,910.00
Sale date: November 22nd 2016

Private Collection, Ontario
“Fair for Britain”, Jack Ray: Selling Glamour and Illusion, North American Carnival Museum and Archives ( online resource), Section 1
In 1942, James “Patty” Conklin, head of the Canadian National Exhibition from 1937 to 1970, was left without a venue for the yearly extravaganza as the grounds were in use by the Canadian Armed Forces. As well, and importantly, “Fun wasn’t much of a priority
with the outbreak of WWII. Land, money and effort were all spent supporting the Allied Forces.” Rather than cancel, Conklin developed a strategy to not only support the war effort, but to also “help sustain morale of citizens through entertainment” and “provide work for unemployed carnies and others during hard times.” Conklin introduced Fair for Britain, a carnival held for two years in Toronto’s Riverdale Park. Proceeds from the gate would be donated directly to the Toronto Evening Telegram’s British War Victim Fund. Over the two years, the fair raised more than $127,000 for the cause, in excess of $1 million today.

An expert in capturing varied scenes of life and industry in early to mid-century Toronto, P.C. Sheppard presents a scene of energy and beauty, viewing the fairgrounds from above, the fronts and midway glowing with light and excitement between the tents and canopies. Pointing to the success of the fair, the scene is heavily populated by excited patrons old and young (Conklin’s fair introduced “Kiddie-Land”, a section devoted to rides and activities for young children, an instantly popular attraction which was soon adopted by other fairs and amusement parks). Each area of the fair is jammed with people while two late-comers race to get inside from the lower right corner of the composition. Towering over the scene, a ferris wheel blasts streams of light into the dark sky. This perspective of “Fair for Britain” was also employed by Owen Staples, his “Lancaster over ‘Fair for Britain’, Toronto, Ont.” (1942) looking down into the fairgrounds by day.

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Peter Clapham Sheppard
(1882 - 1965) OSA, RCA

Peter Clapham Sheppard was born in Toronto on October 21, 1881. He apprenticed at engraving houses such as at Rolph, Clark, Stone Ltd. in Toronto, where he became a highly skilled lithographer. He received his art training at the Central Ontario School of Art and Design and the Ontario College of Art under George Reid, John William Beatty, and William Cruickshank. Between 1912 and 1914, he obtained nine Honours Diplomas for for painting and drawing and was awarded the Sir Edmund Walker Scholarship and the Stone Scholarship (Life Classes).

After 1912, Sheppard travelled extensively throughout Europe and the United States. He was elected a member of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1918 and an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1929. His works were shown in many of the annual R.C.A., O.S.A. and C.N.E. exhibitions, along side works by Tom Thomson, Frederick Varley and J.E.H. MacDonald. His artworks were also included in The British Empire Exhibition, Wembley 1925, L’Exposition D’Art Canadien, Paris 1927, The Exhibition of Contemporary Canadian Painting (Southern Dominions) 1936 and The World’s Fair, New York 1939. Sheppard’s work is held in collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian War Museum and the National Gallery of Canada.

In 2010, Sheppard’s works were prominently featured in the “Defiant Spirits” exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario, curated by noted Canadian author Ross King. Powerful images such as “The Building of the Bloor Street Viaduct (1916)”, “Toronto Gasworks, (1912)” and “The Engine Home, (1919)” attested to Sheppard’s unchronicled contribution to modernism and to the city of Toronto in the formative years of its art history. P.C. Sheppard’s artwork is visible at the thirty-three second mark within this “Group of Seven: Defiant Sprits Exhibition” video -

(Source: The Estate of the Artist)