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From: "Carolyn Wallace" <>
Subject: JOHN WILSON, Sculptor, 1877-1954
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2004 20:32:28 -0300


The Evening News, New Glasgow, N.S., 3 May 1972:

John Wilson, Sculptor, 1877-1954
Famous Nova Scotian from N.G.
Editor's Note: The following article was written by Eric Barker of New
Glasgow on the life of John Wilosn, sculptor, who lived from 1877 to 1954.
Mr. Wilson is one of Pictou County's less known famous sons.
On East River, at Potter's Bridge, New Glasgow, one of the most famous
men of Nova Scotia spent his retirement years. His last days were probably
spent recalling thoughts of Harvard University, of Harvard Alumni and
Harvard's Faculty. The man was John Wilson, whose career was sculpture. He
was one of the many men from Pictou County who found success and more than a
modicum of fame in the United States. To John Wilson came plaudits from the
art critics of the world.This is the story of John Wilson........
His birthplace was New Glasgow, 1877, son of John and Annie Cameron
Wilson. Both parents were natives of New Glasgow. The father was son of
Alexander Wilson, stone mason, emigrant from Beaulie, Invernesshire. His
mother was the daughter of Alexander Cameron and granddaughter of New
Glasgow's alleged first settler, Daddy Chisholm. John Wilson(father of
sculptor) was a speculator in mines. The family owned an iron ore deposit at
MacLellan's Mountain. Two of his mother's brothers, James and Alex Cameron,
were the shipwrights who made the famous four oared shell that went to Saint
john, N.B., with a local crew, there raced and beat a British naval crew,
and in beating the Royal Navy so exerted the British captain that the
unfortunate man dropped dead at the end of the race.
John Wilson attended New Glasgow High School when David Sloan was
principal. In sports he favored boxing, a hobby that helped him along his
career.
It was during his childhood he evinced an interest in carving. With a
jack knife he carved wood and with a file and rough mallet he taught himself
to square a piece of stone. At the age of fifteen he chipped out of stone, a
lion that is now standing in front of Mrs. Caress's home on Summit Avenue.
Even in the 1890's he received awards for drawing entries in the Counties
Exhibition, meaning the annual fall fair, as it then was, of the Counties of
Antigonish, Colchester, Cumberland and Pictou.
John Wilson knew of the hard struggle to get a footing in the art world.
In 1896, a lad of nineteen, he went to Boston. By night he attended the
Cowles Art School, by day he worked as odd job man and usher in a theatre.
(*This is a very long article so I will shorten it considerably. Anyone
interested I will e-mail a copy of the whole thing.)
John Wilson boxed on weekends and what he earned he paid for his
schooling.
In 1902 the Royal Academy of Arts accepted one of his works for its annual
exhibition in Montreal. He was commissioned by the State of Pennyslvania to
make a monument of Pennsylvanias' men who served in the American Cicil War.
For his work at the Cowles Art School he was given a Fellowship at the Art
Museum. He taught at Cowles Art School, honorary membership on its Board of
Govenors for 20 years, 5 years he taught at the Worcester Art Museum, 3
years at Childe's Walker School, 3 years at Bradford College for Girls.
John Wilson taught at Harvard when the scholarly Lawrence Lowell was
president.
He was appointed Instructor in Modelling School of Architecture, Harvard
University in 1917.
When his working years were over John Wilson came back to New
Glasgow(1949), to live again in the town of his birth. In the more than 50
years he spent in the United States he did not relinquish his Canadian
citizenship. I have been told by residents that Wilson came home to die. He
only lived five years after returning. On Dec.8th, 1954, John Wilson died,
in the Aberdeen Hospital, New Glasgow, so ending the life of probably one of
our greatest Nova Scotians. Before his passing he donated property to the
Aberdeen Hospital where Glen Haven Manor now stands. A palque in his honor
hangs in the Hospital's cafeteria.
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Carolyn Wallace


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