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Description found in Archives

Mary Bishop Rodrik and Franz Johnston Fonds [textual record, graphic material]. 



Place of creation


1.260 m of textual records.
1289 photographs and other items.
1 collage cut-out coloured papers
26 reproductions photomechanical print
1 watercolours
6 drawings
7 prints

Scope and content

The collection includes Franz Johnston's own papers, photographs and a small amount of artwork; personal papers and photographs of Mary Bishop Rodrik's; and manuscripts relating to the unpublished biography of Franz Johnston by Paul and Mary Rodrik, and related research material, including photographs and artwork, collected by the Rodriks.

Graphic (art)
90: Open
Researchers must be accompanied by an ar
t archivist.
Graphic (photo)
90: Open
from 8 to 18
90: Open
Archival reference no.

Terms of use

Copyright varies. The recipient of copies is responsible for determining whether material is subject to copyright and whether any use of it does or does not constitute an infringement of copyright under the Copyright Act.

Textual records: The finding aid is a file list of the textual records. MSS2139 (Paper)

Textual records: Finding aid. MSS2139 (Electronic)

Art material. Art items have been catalogued at the item-level on the Minisis-ICON database. 90 (Electronic)

Biography / Administrative history

Franz Johnston was born Francis Hans Johnston in Toronto in 1888. After receiving his early education at the Shaw Street and Givins Street schools in Toronto, he began his art studies at the Central Ontario School of Art under William Cruikshank and George Reid and at the Central Technical School under Gustav Hahn. He apprenticed with the jewellers, Ryrie Brothers, and then the printers, Brigden's, ca. 1907. He joined the commercial art firm Grip, ca. 1908, where he met Tom Thomson, J.E.H. MacDonald, Fred Varley and Arthur Lismer, and began to exhibit (under the name Frank Johnston) with the Ontario Society of Artists. With assistance from Dr. James McCallum, he went to the United States ca. 1912 to study at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts under Daniel Garber and Philip Hale. He then moved to New York and worked as a commercial artist at Carlton Studios, where he met fellow Canadians Norman Price and Jay Hambridge. He returned to Canada during World War I and in 1918 was appointed an official war artist with the Canadian War Memorials to document Canadian airmen training for the R.A.F. Johnston accompanied Lawren Harris and J.E.H. MacDonald on two of the famous boxcar trips to the Algoma region of northern Ontario, in 1918 and 1919. In 1920, he was a founding member of the Group of Seven, exhibiting in the Group's first exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto, along with Fred Varley, Frank Carmichael, Arthur Lismer, A.Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris and J.E.H. MacDonald. Although he was associated with the Group during its early years, this was the only time he exhibited in a group exhibition, as he left Toronto in 1921 to become principal of the Winnipeg School of Art. On his return to Toronto in 1924, Johnston resigned from the Group of Seven. Shortly afterwards, he changed his professional name from Frank to Franz. In 1927, he joined the Ontario College of Art as an instructor in charge of first year students; he resigned in 1930. From then on, he supported his family by running a lodge and summer art school at Balm Beach on Georgian Bay, and by selling his popular, commercially successful, paintings through such dealers as Simpson's, Malloney's, and Eaton's Fine Art Galleries. He died in 1949. Johnston married Florence Jamieson in 1910. They had four children, including a daughter, Frances, who studied art and married the painter Francis Arbuckle, and a son, Paul, who took the family name Rodrik as his surname and became an artist as well. Florence Jamieson survived her husband and married John Scolfield. She died in 1979. Mary Bishop was born in 1919, the daughter of Reginald Worth and Edith Bishop, and niece of WWI flying ace Billy Bishop. She was educated in Owen Sound and began her career as a secretary with the advertizing firm Vickers and Benson. A member of the Toronto Flying Club, who had trained to fly Moths, she joined the Canadian Women's Army Corps in 1943 and served overseas. She received her discharge in 1946. After the war, she worked in public relations and in 1966 married the artist Paul Rodrik, Franz Johnston's elder son. Together they collected the papers of Franz Johnston and began writing his biography. Paul Rodrik died in 1983, but Mary Rodrik continued the work they had begun and largely finished the biography. Despite her efforts, it was never published. Following Paul Rodrik's death, Mary Rodrik married Max Challice, who also left her a widow.

Additional information

The collection was largely donated in 1997 by Mary Bishop Rodrik Challice of Markdale, Ontario, a daughter-in-law of Franz Johnston, who with her husband Paul Rodrik had researched the life of Johnston while preparing a biography. A small portion of the collection came directly from Mary Challice while other material was transferred from the home of her friend Rosemary Southworth of Flesherton, Ontario, and the bulk was transferred via Ritchie's auction house in Toronto. The scrapbook kept by Franz Johnston was purchased in 1997 at Sotheby's in Toronto, but originally formed part of the collection held by Mary Challice. A sketchbox used by Franz Johnston and acquired as part of the same Sotheby's lot as the scrapbook was transferred to the National Gallery of Canada in 1998.


Related control no.

1. 1998-030 VSA
2. 1997-00155-1