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Allisonian Firsts: John Warrener Gray

A virtual exhibition celebrating the bold Allisonians who became the "firsts" in their field.

John Warrener Gray

First professor of Fine Arts at Mount Allison University (1869)

John Warrener Gray was born in England in 1824. He studied art at the School of Art in South Kensington, England, and arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1847. Gray became Mount Allison's first professor of painting and drawing in 1869 but his position was terminated in 1873. [1] Mount Allison would not see another professor of fine arts until 1893, when the collection of the Owens Art Gallery in Saint John, New Brunswick, was transferred to Mount Allison University, and with it, artist and educator John Hammond. 

Gray worked as an art teacher in the United States until he settled in Montreal in the 1890s. He taught free hand drawing, watercolour, and oil painting in Mrs. John Lovell’s Young Ladies Educational Institute. He was an original founder of the Art Association of Montreal (now the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts/Musée des beaux-arts de Montreal) and later became a director. He was in charge of picture selection for a number of years and gave the first lecture on ceramics. He died in Montreal, Quebec, on 24 February 1912.



[1] The Minutes of the Board of Trustees note that [Principal Inch] "considered it undesirable to continue the services of Mr. Gray as teacher of Painting, his salary being greater than the profits yielded to the Institution financially." (Reid, John G. "The education of women at Mount Allison, 1854-1914." Acadiensis, Vol. XII, No. 2 Spring/Printemps 1983).