Peter Whyte

1905-66

Peter Whyte was one of Banff’s first hometown artists. His training was traditional. An early Banff art teacher was Nora Drummond-Davis. He later took lessons from and/or painted alongside Belmore Browne, Carl Rungius and J.E.H. MacDonald. After early formal study at the Otis Art Institute (Los Angeles, 1924), Peter Whyte, encouraged by the American landscape artist Aldro T. Hibbard, enrolled in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (1925-8). This is where he met Catharine Robb, his future wife.

"Mt. Norquay Looking North" was painted after his studies in Boston and before Peter and Catherine married (1930). This work is considered to be around the time he was spending time with Belmore Browne (1880-1954) the well-known American painter who lived in Banff from 1918. It is evidence of the Peter Whyte's early interest in painting a landscape that he knew intimately; a practice that continued throughout his life.

After their marriage, the Whytes built a studio home in Banff which soon became the social centre of the community, and a regular stopping place for visitors. Their home, as well as other properties, is now contained in the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies compound (between the Bow River and Lynx Street, Banff). The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, established by Catharine after Peter’s death in 1966, houses most of their artwork, as well as their extensive archive comprised of personal correspondence, documents relating to the town of Banff, and a collection of mountain photographs.

The Whytes were generous benefactors and were involved in many activities in the community, particularly Banff’s annual Indian Days celebrations. Peter’s parents (Dave Whyte and Annie Curren) established one of the original families of Banff. Clever in business they purchased several properties in the flourishing tourist destination. The Whyte family also developed a strong relationship with many members of the Stoney Band on the Morley Reservation (65 km east of Banff). This association continues.

References:
-Ewen, Anne, Lisa Christensen and Monique Westra. Artistry Revealed: Peter Whyte, Catherine Whyte And Their Contemporaries. Banff: Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, 2018.
-Lisa Christensen, A Hiker’s Guide To Art Of The Canadian Rockies. Calgary: Glenbow Museum, 1996
-Kim Mayberry, Romance In The Rockies, The Life and Adventures of Catharine and Peter Whyte. Canmore: Altitude Publishing, 2003)