Pamela Glew

190-192 Oxford Street


Artists Paul Peel and Mildred Peel spent their teenage years in the house that once stood at 190-192 Oxford Street. Eventually, they would both study art in Paris. When they were young, their father, sculptor John R. Peel, would set them drawing assignments, offering a prize for the best drawing.


Paul Peel, possibly Canada’s best known 19th century painter, began studying art in his teenage years, while living in a house that once stood at 190 to 192 Oxford Street directly across the street from this sign. In the following story Pamela Glew tells a story about Paul Peel and Paul’s sister Mildred Peel, also a noted Canadian artist.


Yes, that was the habit of John Robert Peel to set assignments to Paul and Mildred: drawing assignments. And one that is recorded, he told them to go and draw a picture of two boys fighting and the reward for the one he liked best was actually to be a Jew’s Harp he’d brought back from from the local novelty store.

And, when the drawings were completed he preferred Paul’s, and he took a rather male chauvinistic view of Mildred’s contribution because he teased her by saying only a girl would draw two boys fighting but pulling each other’s hair. And that struck me as a rather unfair reason for denigrating her drawing compared to Paul’s, but I’m sure there were occasions where Mildred fought back and won the gift, the prize, for something else that she had drawn in these little contests.

And of course this was a valuable training for the children to see that it was worth putting effort into really creating something that fulfilled the mandate, the specification. And, of course, they were producing works for customers, so why not do exactly what the customer asked for?


If you would like to hear stories from the Great Talbot area walk north on the west side of Richmond Street until you reach Sydenham Street, cross Sydenham, and look for an orange Hear, Here sign just west of the corner of Sydenham and Richmond.