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Emily Carr (1871-1945)
Artist, writer

Emily Carr
Emily Carr
Archives and Library Canada 4282

Emily Carr grew up in a strict household in Victoria, B.C., where her English parents had settled. Orphaned in her early teens, she managed to convince her guardians to let her study art in San Francisco at the California School of Design. During her later studies in England and France she began to develop a distinctive style of painting that produced bold and colourful canvases that would eventually make her a Canadian icon.

But Emily Carr's journey of self-discovery was a painful one. Unable to support herself through her art, she focused on managing an apartment house in Victoria for 15 years. It wasn't until 1927 that Emily Carr came to the attention of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and was welcomed by the Group of Seven painters when she exhibited some of her work. Renewed by the contact with these talented artists, Emily Carr began to paint vivid pictures of the natural world and West Coast native peoples.

It was only near the end of her life that Emily Carr began to be recognized as an exceptional painter as well as a writer. Her first book, Klee Wyck, won a Governor General's Award. Her paintings now hang in galleries across Canada and the fascinating life of Emily Carr is celebrated in a multitude of books and films.

An impressive bronze statue of Emily Carr, created by sculptor Barbara Paterson, was unveiled in Victoria on October 13, 2010.

Emily Carr: A Brief History

Discover more


  • Life and Times of Emily Carr
    Documentary.Available from CBC Shop Online
  • Emily Carr: Growing Pains
    1978 NFB film, 57 min 12 sec. Available from The NFB Store.
  • Emily Carr: “Little Old Lady on the Edge of Nowhere”
    1978 NFB film. 57 min 03 sec.Available from The NFB Store.
  • Klee Wyck
    1946 film, 15 min 02 sec. Part of the Canadian Artists series.Available from The NFB Store.
  • Blanchard, Paula. The Life of Emily Carr. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1987.

  • Burns, Flora Hamilton. “Emily Carr”. In Clear Spirit-Twenty Canadian Women and Their Times, M. Q. Innis (ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1966. A wonderful article by a friend of Emily Carr.

  • Carr, Emily. Book of Small. Toronto: Oxford, 1942.
    ____Growing Pains: The Autobiography of Emily Carr. Toronto: Oxford, 1946.
    ____Heart of a Peacock. Toronto: Oxford, 1944.
    ____House of All Sorts. Toronto: Oxford, 1944.
    ____Klee Wyck. Toronto: Oxford, 1941.
    ____Pause: A Sketch Book. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1954.
    ____Hundreds and thousands: Journal of Emily Carr. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1966.

  • Dilworth, Ira and Lawren Harris. Emily Carr: Her Paintings and Sketches. Toronto: Oxford, 1945.

  • Hembroff-Schleicher, Edythe. Emily Carr: The Untold Story. Saanichton, B.C.: Hancock House, 1978.

  • Pearson, Carol. Emily Carr as I Knew Her. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1954.

  • Shadbolt, Doris. The Art of Emily Carr. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1979.

  • Shadbolt, Doris. Emily Carr. Vancouver/Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 1990.

  • Tippett, Maria. Emily Carr: A Biography. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1979.


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