Several weeks ago Parkwood received an archival donation of a letter Adelaide wrote in response to a thank you she received from Doris Slater. Doris had been the recipient of a tuition scholarship from Mrs. McLaughlin to attend the Ontario College of Art, Toronto in 1936.
You will see the letter to the right on ALM’s embossed stationary card.
“May your work increase in beauty of interpretation. To be lasting art must be beautiful, not only to its delineation, but to the seer” Adelaide remarks to Doris in her note, going on to say “One piece of advice may I give you? Don’t let your work obsess you to the extent that no one can bring you other happiness.”
Who was Doris Slater? Doris Slater was a young Canadian woman who attended the Ontario College of Art, Grange, to study, and thanks to McLaughlin generosity to grow her talents, becoming the recently recognised first Canadian female comic book illustrator and 2015 inductee into the Joe Shuster Hall of Fame.
Born in Chatham in 1917, Doris attended the OCA in the mid 1930s. Best known for her work on Penny’s Diary, a Canadian war time comic, Slater drew the scripts for Patricia Joudry’s popular CBC radio show. Check out this blog about Penny’s Diary: Comic Syrup write up on Penny’s Diary
Comics produced in Canada during the war years are called Canadian Whites, and this era is referenced as the Golden Age of Comics. Canadian Whites obtained their name from the fact that they were published in Canada, had a colourful cover, but black and white interior pages.
The “Whites” proliferated the Canadian market after the War Exchange Conservation Act restricted trade of what was considered non-essential goods from the United States into Canada, which included fiction periodicals. Four companies took advantage of the situation by publishing comics in Canada, sometimes using imported scripts. Anglo-American Publishing of Toronto and Maple Leaf Publishing in Vancouver started publishing in March 1941. Later, two other Toronto-based publishers joined in: Hillborough Studios that August, and Bell Features (originally Commercial Signs of Canada) in September.
Once war time restrictions were lifted, American comics came back into the Canadian market and the heyday of the Canadian whites came to an end.
When one reviews the 1936 Ontario College of Art Annals, held at OCAD University, and it is a fascinating read. During Slater’s time at OCA, the principal was Frederick Haines, the muralist who painted the staircase mural at Parkwood. Her instructors, Yvonne McKague, a great friend of Isabel McLaughlin’s; and Frederick Challener, painter and mural painter of the Parkwood Grand Hall and Billiard Room.
Finally, Slater’s classmate, Donald Stuart, also a scholarship recipient, is the artist behind the bas-relief of the stags in RS McLaughlin’s art deco suite. What a group to be associated with!!
Doris Slater was killed by a drunk driver in a head on collision in 1964 at the age of 47.