Peter Whyte


Perhaps homesick for Banff and his Stoney friends or commissioned to draw a local from his hometown, it is considered that Peter Whyte completed this drawing (1928) while living in Boston. His training was traditional, as this well-constructed drawing attests. His intent was for accuracy and an honest depiction that communicates confidence, pride of place and a thorough knowledge of his subject.

Peter Whyte was one of Banff’s first hometown artists. 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.

After their marriage (1930), 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.

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)