Art Under the Influence – Morris Allaire Scovil

The tradition of finding inspiration in our people and places continued into the 20th century with river scenes by Morris Allaire Scovil (1889-1968).  Born in Gagetown on 4 July 1889, Morris Allaire Scovil was the son of Morris Scovil and Harriet DuVernet.  He grew up at “Meadowlands” in Lower Jemseg – the farm at the ferry landing on the Jemseg side.  Upon his mother’s death in 1903, his father’s sister, noted nurse, editor and author Elizabeth Robinson Scovil returned to the farm to look after Morris and his siblings.  He attended school in Gagetown and went on to study at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro, Nova Scotia.  On 30 March 1915 he enlisted with the 6th Canadian Mounted Rifles and was in the second battle at Ypres.  His attestation papers describe him as 5 ft 8 inches tall with light brown hair and blue eyes and noted previous military service as five years with the 28th New Brunswick Dragoons.  He was captured and spent time in Germany and Holland as a prisoner of war.  He returned to Canada and on 17 March 1920 married Mary Madeleine Bliss, daughter of Gerald Courtenaye Wentworth Bliss and Frances R. Crane, in Amherst, Nova Scotia.

Morris Allaire Scovil (1889-1968), painting: Victoria Arriving at a Wharf, c. 1964, oil on panel, gift of Mrs. R.K. Nevers, 1974 (1974.497.1)

Morris Allaire Scovil (1889-1968)
painting: Victoria Arriving at a Wharf, c. 1964
oil on panel
Gift of Mrs. R.K. Nevers, 1974 (1974.497.1)

The Scovils lived in Manitoba and England where he ran a commercial sales and service business, eventually returning to Amherst where he worked as director of the Maritime Stockbreeders Association.  Morris Scovil took up oil painting in his retirement and studied with Fred Nicholson, Alfred Whitehead and Willard Morse Mitchell.  He died in 1968 in Amherst, Nova Scotia.  His work depicts landscape scenes in and around the Maritimes and was popular with tourists traveling through the Maritimes. In 1955 the Nova Scotia Government purchased one of his paintings for its permanent collection and in 1957 an Amherst Daily News article noted proudly that Scovil was “Proclaimed One Of Nova Scotia’s Most Prolific Landscape artists”.  This view of the steamer Victoria approaching a wharf is similar to another work in the collection of the NBM and reflects his memories of life along the St. John River.  The Victoria was the largest steamer ever on the river and operated between 1897 and 1916, measuring 200 feet long and capable of carrying up to 1000 passengers.   Imagine sitting at Meadowlands and watching such a majestic vessel steam by your front door!

This work was featured in Art Under the Influence.  For more information or if you have any additional information, please contact us at info@queenscountyheritage.com.  We would really like to have a photograph of Mr. Scovil!

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