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 The Société d'histoire de Pointe-Saint-Charles & the PSC Community Theatre have announced that this year they will honour

Emily Coonan

at their annual

Joe Beef Market event

(scheduled for September 10th 2011)


            Although not well known outside of “Art Circles”, Ms. Coonan is considered one of Canada’s best artists - with her work displayed in many galleries across the country – including the National Art Gallery of Canada.

          She was born in Point St. Charles in 1885; and lived most of her life on Farm Street, in the neighbourhood. The last two years of her life, she lived with a niece in Cote St. Luc, where she died in 1971.

          Her father was William Coonan who worked as a machinist for the Grand Trunk Railway, and her mother was Mary Ann Fullerton. And, although her respectable Irish Catholic family was not wealthy, her parents, who encouraged all of their children,  - nurtured her artistic talent. (Her brother, Thomas Coonan, became a Minister, without portfolio, in the Québec Union National Government led by Maurice Duplessis from 1936 – 1939)

          She started her formal art training at about 13 years old, when she attended the Conseil des Arts et Manufactures. In 1905, Emily enrolled at the Art Association of Montreal, with William Brymner (1905-09), winning first prize in 1907. She also became a member of the Beaver Hall Group, a group of about thirty Montreal artists who exhibited together around 1921-22, (named after their studio location at 305 Beaver Hall Hill). The membership consisted of male and female, anglophone and francophone artists, and most were former students of William Brymner at the Art Association. Four or five exhibitions were organized before the dissolution of the Group around 1923.
           Coonan traveled to Europe in 1912 with fellow Beaver Hall Group member Mabel May, visiting France, Belgium and Holland. She was awarded a National Gallery of Canada traveling scholarship in 1914, but because of the war had to wait until 1920 to 1921 to enjoy her second trip - a full year painting in Europe.

            Although she continued to paint all her life, Emily Coonan appears to have formally exhibited, for the last time, in 1933 – the reason why she decided to retire from public exhibitions, at the height of her career, is a mystery. Although her fellow painter Torrance Newton described Emily as “A very odd, shy, strange person – a real loner”

            If you would like any additional information about our annual Joe Beef Market and/or have any details about the life and times of Emily Coonan to share, please visit our new Point St. Charles History web site at: www.shpsc.org.