George Alfred Paginton was a painter who belonged in spirit and in time to a class of Canadian artists that included the members of the Group of Seven, David Milne, Berthe Des Clay, Goodridge Roberts and Anne Savage.
Paginton arrived at age ten to Lindsay, Ontario as one of the British Home Children. In 1927, he spent a term at the Ontario College of Art Summer School at Port Hope and studied under the direction of noted Canadian artists, John William Beatty, Frederick Haines, and Frederick Challener. It was Beatty who was first to express professional appreciation towards Paginton’s work. “Delighted with the bold Canadianism in the Paginton canvases,” he stated to the Toronto Daily Star on November 29, 1931 at Paginton’s first exhibition.
Like many Canadian artists at the time, Paginton became a commercial artist and landed his first job at Photo Engravers and Electrotypers Ltd., of Toronto and from there, he began a 43-year-long career in the Toronto Star’s art department.
Although roughly twenty years younger, Paginton was closely associated with Group of Seven member A.Y. Jackson and was a pallbearer along with A.J. Casson at Jackson’s funeral in 1974. In 1941, Paginton moved into the famed Studio Building and took over J.W. Beatty’s space, one floor up from Jackson.
As a plein air painter, his subject matter crossed the entire country from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, through Quebec and Ontario, to Alberta and British Columbia. Paginton’s favourite place to paint was Île d'Orléans, Québec and there are pictures depicting the landscape and culture of all six parishes.
George Paginton's work is held by many esteemed private collectors and public and museum collections across Canada including the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Art Gallery of Algoma, Art Gallery of Northumberland, Art Gallery of Sudbury, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives, Robert McLaughlin Gallery and the City of Toronto, along with the National Capital Commission’s Official Residences Collection in Ottawa.
A retrospective of his work was presented by the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives, Ontario in 2019 along with the release of a book in both English and French about the artist and his work, George Paginton: Painting a Nation. Rediscovered, Paginton fills the gaps in the history of Canadian art. His work is represented at fine art galleries across Canada.
Adamowicz-Clements, Sharona and Martens, Darrin J. (2019). George Paginton: Painting a Nation. Figure 1 Publishing. Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives. Brampton, ON.
Guernsey, Better and Dorlan, Richard. (May 16, 1987). Orleans – The Island Time Forgot – Since settlement as French colony, this island in St. Lawrence has changed but slightly, as shown in paintings by George Paginton), Toronto Star.
Lowman, Ron. (April 9, 1974). Friends exchange fond tales at Jackson’s funeral. Toronto Star. Pg. F7.
MacDonald, Colin S., Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 5, National Gallery of Canada, Artists in Canada database, pgs. 1464-1465.