a dual mandate facility (arts & heritage) the EAGM's collections
are comprised of two distinct components; a Fine Arts collection, and
a collection of NWMP/RCMP artefacts (plus local history artefacts).
The dual mandate enables the EAGM to provide a diverse exhibit and public
programming schedule to the public which is not served by any other
organization in Southeast Saskatchewan.
The EAGM's fine arts collection consists
of prints/paintings donated to the Centre by the Saskatchewan Arts Board.
These prints are from well-known Saskatchewan/Canadian Print-makers
& Painters such as: David Thauberger, Ernest Lindner, Michael Lonechild,
Doris Wall-Larsen, Ronald Bloore, etc.. Enhancing this collection, is
a recent donation of Andrew King (former resident of Estevan and internationally
established poster printer) printing block, prints and travel trunks.
In the 1930's, Andrew King's business Enterprise Show Print was the
only full-time show poster printing plant in Canada. He later moved
to Estevan and renamed the business King Show Print, and continued to
produce posters and sell them nationally and internationally. The King
collection directly applies to Estevan's history and heritage.
The EAGM's artefacts collection consists
of artefacts that are related to the North West Mounted Police and the
1874 March West from Roche Percee to Estevan. This collection includes
the historic Detachment Post. Artefacts housed in the NWMP Museum consist
of; buttons from the NWMP tunic's, nails found in the building and on-site,
RCMP uniforms, rifles, arrowheads, riding gear, photographs and other
paraphernalia related to law & order on the prairies in the 1870's
+ The museum building NWMP Post (located on the grounds of the EAGM
is the oldest historic Detachment Post in Saskatchewan) is an actual
artefact in itself and in 1987 it was declared a "Municipal Heritage
Building" by the City of Estevan and the Saskatchewan Municipal
Government, Heritage Department. Originally, this building was located
where the Boundary Dam is now (a few miles South of Estevan).
contained in the museum are related to the NWMP & RCMP, didactic
panels relate the history of the illegal whiskey trade between the "Indians"
and the United States. The founding of the NWMP by Sir John A. Macdonald
was to stop the illegal whiskey traders selling there bad whiskey to
the Indians in Western Canada. (Whiskey trading with the Indians was
outlawed in the USA, and it was quickly realized that the whiskey traders
could move into the British Territory to do their trading with the Indians.)
With all the bloodshed that was occurring due to drunkenness, Sir John
A. decided to form this new group to try to prevent some or all of this
continuing to happen.
As part of the EAGM's mandate as a
gallery/museum, the collections are actively used for the advancement
of life-long learning in arts, culture and heritage. Exhibiting artworks
& artifacts demonstrates the EAGM's commitment to fostering knowledge
in our local and regional history, art education/art history and art
practice of Saskatchewan artists, gaining an understanding and appreciation
of Saskatchewan and Canadian art.
can you hear it? Ladies & Gentlemen, step right up to the Greatest
Show on Earth! The sound of the carnivals, the smell of the sawdust,
cotton candy and popcorn, the promised excitement of daredevil spills,
chills and thrills. Ah, those were the golden days of traveling entertainment
companies, circuses, carnivals, acting troupes and thrill shows. These
shows criss-crossed the North American continent and stopped in every
community with a population of several hundred or more. Many of these
companies advertised with brightly coloured posters produced by Andrew
King of Saskatchewan.
Andrew King was owner and publisher
of the Rouleau Enterprise. The small town newspaper developed a show
print business as a sideline in 1912. The show print business was conceived
and developed when King had the good fortune to commiserate with the
promotion agent of a theatrical company whose advertising posters had
gone astray. It was when the promoter enquired as to why there were
no Canadian poster printing companies, that King realized that this
was a golden opportunity, gaining King a major role in the history of
the printing industry in Canada. By the 1930's Enterprise Show Print
had become the only full-time show printing plant in Canada.
As word spread about Enterprise Show
Print, so did the list of customers. Beginning in 1914, King produced
a catalogue which illustrated the posters his company had in stock.
By 1919 King was supplying posters to customers from Vancouver to St.
Johns and southward to Kentucky and the Pacific Coast states. That same
year, when railway employees walked off their jobs during the Winnipeg
General Strike, a poster plant in Winnipeg couldn't ship its orders
and as a result, lost customers to King. By the 1920's, big time operators
such as Conklin and Garratt (forerunner to today's Conklin Shows), Royal
American Show and the Dailey Brother Circus were giving their orders
to King. Elite printing contracts such as the Coldstreams Guards Band
and the Royal Air Force Band of London, and thrill shows including Jimmy
Lynch's Death Dodgers of New York and the Flash Williams Thrill Show
of the Springfield, Mississippi, were among King's customers. Even during
the 1930's, as businesses crashed and farmers went broke, the public's
need for entertainment raged on and Enterprise Show Print flourished.
specialty was the production of posters by the wood block process. King's
hand carved letters and numbers in wood, were as large as seven feet
high. At first King produced his own poster designs or used commercial
artists. Eventually he teamed up with Herb Ashley, a park warden in
Banff Alberta, who worked part time as a commercial artist. The partnership
lasted twenty years. Ashley would produce a drawing or a poster-sized
watercolour which King would transpose onto and then carve from basswood
boards - a tough wood with a soft, close grain imported from Wisconsin.
With their simple and dynamic design
and striking colouring, King's show prints attest to an especially engaging
and effective means of promotion. King's posters were unique from a
commercial point of view because they were printed with wood blocks.
Wood block printing is a relief process; when the design is carved,
the remaining areas - the "relief" are where the ink is applied.
Usually three blocks - one for each of the primary colour of red, yellow
and blue - were carved to create the whole picture. Up to five colours
could be used, by transposing one colour over another.
Although commercial lithography was
a far more prevalent and economically viable process, Andrew King's
mastery of wood block printing and his adaptation of the process to
suit the needs of bold and catchy show business printing made his business
a uniquely Canadian venture. King was the first man in Canada to engrave
wood blocks from which multi-coloured pictorial posters were produced
at his plant. Andrew King became famous throughout Canada and the United
States for his production of posters for all the major shows that toured
in the days when circuses were flourishing.
sizes had been standardized for years, but the 24-inch by 42-inch one-sheet
size didn't limit the creative possibilities. Posters nearly seven feet
high and more than 10 feet long were created by piecing together the
poster sheets to produce a billboard. Such billboards, with their splashy
colours and larger-than-life shapes, were slapped onto the sides of
barns or empty buildings so that they could be seen, and more importantly,
identified from street distances.
Three storey buildings, running 100
feet long were covered in posters in about ten minutes, leaving no time
for the proprietor to disagree with the promotion. Sometimes these bill-boards
were made up of over 100 sheets of printed paper, creating the visual
imagery that promotes circuses, rodeo's and carnivals.
In 1944 King purchased the Estevan
Mercury and moved his plant from Rouleau to Estevan, Saskatchewan, renaming
the business King Show Print. After the move to Estevan, King continued
both the newspaper and printing businesses. At the end of the Second
World War, the businesses were owned jointly by King and his two sons
and employed about 30 people. In a June 1947 article published in a
magazine called Canadian Business, King is described as a "typical
country editor, a well informed, quiet, but affable fellow who looks
as though he is always thinking things over..." perhaps he was.
the 1950's, traveling circuses and shows were disappearing and television
was becoming a national pastime. Posters announcing a local rodeo or
fair, their message had been usurped by the aggressive advertising techniques
of an electronic media saturated generation. Billboards were forbidden
within 500 feet of a highway, and by 1958, when King sold the business,
they hadn't printed a 24 sheet poster in 10 years. The market was dwindling,
the large posters were a dying form of advertising.
Because of the intricacy of the process
he used, King's role in Canadian printing history has been recognized
by many, including the University of Toronto. A tribute to his contribution,
includes posters and some of the original wood blocks, is in a permanent
display called King's Corner in Massey Hall at the University. Most
of the blocks were carved by King and his two son's, Stirling and Bill
King. King used wood blocks because they were less expensive than lithography.
Although King had to teach himself the technique of carving wood blocks,
perfecting the art through trial and error, the printing business was
familiar to King.
King did make money from King
Show Print, he was also a carnival buff who'd let the owners get away
without paying their bills. He kept churning out the posters - millions
of them over the 46 years - and consequently left a legacy worth far
more than the mighty dollar.