Fonds whyte-1091 - Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation fonds

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Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation fonds

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WHYTE whyte-1091

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Physical description

ca.6 m textual records and other material.

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Biographical history

The Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation is a charitable, non-profit organization that operates the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Alberta, Canada. The Wa-Che-Yo-Cha-Pa Foundation, as the foundation was initially named, was founded and endowed by artists Peter and Catharine Whyte in 1958. It supported broad causes as well as acting as an agency for collecting and preserving cultural materials of the Canadian Rockies. In 1968, a building designed by Philippe Delesalle and known as the Archives of the Canadian Rockies opened at 111 Bear Street in Banff, providing accommodation for a regional archives, gallery and the Banff Library. After a major renovation and addition in 1993, the foundation now supports three collection and exhibition departments under the name of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies: Archives and Library, Art Gallery and Heritage Collection. Geographic collecting limits of the museum are the mountainous areas of Canada bounded by the 49th Parallel on the south, the Peace River on the north, the Front Ranges of the Rocky Mountains on the east and the Columbia Mountains on the west.

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Biographical history

Peter and Catharine Whyte were artists, photographers, outdoor enthusiasts, travelers, philanthropists and cultural workers at Banff, Alberta, Canada. Peter Whyte, 1905-1966, was born at Banff in 1905 to pioneer merchant Dave White and Annie (Curren) White. He was an accomplished skier and ski jumper and one of the region's first native-born painters with an intimate knowledge of the mountains and was an active photographer from ca.1920 until the 1950s. Peter Whyte studied art at the Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles, 1923-1924, and at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Boston, 1925, where he met Catharine Robb. Catharine Robb Whyte, 1906-1979, was born in 1906 at Concord, Massachusetts and grew up amongst the wealth and creativity of the Robb and Morse families. She studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Boston, 1925-1929. Following their marriage in 1930, the Whytes pursued a life of painting, photography, hiking, skiing and travelling. Their log home and studio in Banff became a focal point for their artist friends, Stoney Indians and local pioneers. Catharine shared Pete's involvement in skiing and hiking organizations and together they managed Skoki Lodge from 1932-1934. In following years, the Whytes travelled extensively. During the Second World War, Peter served in the reserve army, with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a photographer and, briefly, as an official war artist. Catharine continued to paint and maintain their home and, when possible, accompanied Pete to his military postings. In civilian life, Pete resumed his art career, explored new photographic techniques and sculpted. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Whytes formulated plans for a foundation to preserve the art and history of the Canadian Rockies. Plans for a building to house an archives, public library and gallery were in preparation when Pete died in 1966. The Peter Whyte Foundation was named in his honour. Catharine immersed herself in the development of what is now the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, in the cultural community, painting, outdoor activity, travel and work with the Stoney Indians. She became a more active photographer, recording her travels and outdoor pursuits. She served in an official capacity with numerous cultural and charitable organizations, was a patron to individuals studying art and music, and supported numerous causes relating to the Stoney Indians, multiculturalism, regional culture and recreation, and cancer research. Despite her modesty and often anonymous patronage of causes, Catharine was recognized with numerous awards and honours, including the Order of Canada in 1978. She died at Banff in 1979.

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Scope and content

Fonds consists of administrative and operational records of the Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation and the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. Textual records: 1. Board of Trustees; 2. Administration; 3. Archives; 4. Gallery; 5. Heritage collections; 6. Photography. Photographs: A. Foundation buildings; B. Gallery exhibition installation shots (negatives only); C. Events and guests (including Banff Day, gallery openings, special events and guests); D. Displays (inside and outside of the museum); E. Publicity and publication (includes views produced for this purpose); F. General (mainly people, places and events in Banff and area; includes photographs produced by Museum staff not included in other series). Photographs were made by staff of the Whyte Foundation, private photographers, and others. Three sound recordings were made for research purposes during the course of Gallery operations; pertain to Ann Wheeler, David Settles and Peter Whyte art and exhibit. Other sound recording is of Grant MacEwan talk at the Whyte Museum, December 1993; recorded by Woody MacPhail. Video recording is of Banff Day 1997 by Eddie Hunter. 2 audio cassettes are a recording of the Clifford Jackson White memorial service held September 13, 2003 hosted by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. Cartographic materials include a site plan of lots 7-12, Block A, Plan 6719 B.C., November, 2000.

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Physical condition

Includes ca. 12,500 photographs: prints, transparencies, negatives, 7 sound recordings: 6 audio cassettes, 1 audio compact disc (copy of 2 audio cassettes), 1 video tape recording: VHS, and 1 cartographic record: survey site plan: 1:250.

Immediate source of acquisition

Acquired by transfer;Acquired mainly through transfer from administrative bodies and deparments


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  • Language is English

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Access and use restricted

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General note

Record No. M124 / S38 / V692<br><br>

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