The Consummate Canadian: A Biography of Samuel E Weir QC


312 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-896219-38-1
DDC 709'.2




Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University and an avid outdoor recreationist. She is also the
author of The Mountain Is Moving: Japanese Women’s Lives, Kurlek, and
Margaret Laurence: The Long Journey Hom


The Consummate Canadian records the life of Samuel Edward Weir, Q.C.
(1898–1981), a passionate art collector who deserves to be better
known. Over a period of some 60 years, this quixotic lawyer bought,
displayed in his home, and preserved for posterity approximately 1000
works by outstanding painters and sculptors, most of them Canadian.

Weir was born in London, Ontario, of pioneer Irish and German stock.
From impoverished beginnings (torn clothing made him the butt of
schoolyard jokes), he managed to become a lawyer and, eventually,
Queen’s Counsel. His interest in art began early, and he was known as
a keen collector by the 1920s. In time, his collection would include
bronzes by Jacob Epstein (a bust of George Bernard Shaw) and Tait
McKenzie (The Sprinter, Ice Bird) and oil paintings by such masters as
Paul Peel, James Wilson Morrice, Marc Suzor-Coté, and Cornelius
Krieghoff. Weir’s collection is preserved and open to the public at
River Bank, his former home in Queenston, Ontario.

Torontonian Mary Willan Mason is a lifelong student of fine art and has
written extensively on the subject. This is her first biography of a
collector. Her extensive research has resulted in a detailed,
well-rounded portrait that is enhanced by 27 full-page color plates and
numerous black-and-white photographs of Weir’s beloved collection. The
Consummate Canadian is a valuable record of the Canadian art scene in
the early and middle 20th century.


Mason, Mary Willan., “The Consummate Canadian: A Biography of Samuel E Weir QC,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 7, 2023,