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The 45th Anniversary of a generous family gift to the Canadian Public

November 30, 2018

Press Release

OTTAWA – November 30, 2018 – The year 2018 marks the 45th anniversary of the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art (FCCA) becoming public. This significant Canadian art collection established by Ottawa-based collectors O.J. and Isobel Firestone is now housed at the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG). The Gallery hosted an event on Thursday, November 29th in honour this moment, which brought together Mayor Jim Watson, Brenda Firestone, eldest child of the late O.J. Firestone and Isobel Firestone, along with OAG Board of Directors Chair Victor Duret and Director and CEO Alexandra Badzak.

“Ottawa is proud and fortunate to be home to the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, one of the largest and most impressive collection of works by the Group of Seven and other important Canadian artists. This collection, which was generously donated by the Firestone family, highlights our beautiful and untamed Canadian landscapes, while giving the viewer a glimpse into our rich Canadian history.”

-Jim Watson, Mayor, City of Ottawa

In 1973, O.J. and Isobel Firestone donated their collection to the Ontario Heritage Foundation who transferred its ownership to the City of Ottawa to ensure that it remained available to the public. The City then assigned custodianship of the collection to OAG who catalogues, conserves, and displays it through changing exhibitions. The FCCA, numbered over at over 1600 works, touches on the major groups and regional movements in Canada, with an emphasis on the Group of Seven, and includes influential Canadian artists such as Lawren Harris, Emily Carr, Paul-Émile Borduas, Marian Scott, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Rita Letendre, and Franz Johnston.

“As an immigrant, O.J. Firestone collected art as a means of understanding his adopted country and healing from the ravages of war. 45 years ago and over 1600 artworks later, he and his family made the decision to donate their incredible collection of art to all of us. As stewards of that collection, the OAG is celebrating this special anniversary by gifting 45 memberships to new Canadian families.”

-Alexandra Badzak, OAG Director and Chief Executive Officer

O.J. Firestone was an economist born in Austria who immigrated to Canada in 1938. In honour of this history, the Gallery will offer OAG memberships to families that have recently moved to Canada.

 “It was the wish of my parents OJ and Isobel Firestone that our art collection—the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art—be exhibited in the City of Ottawa and be available for viewing by a wide audience. Our family is thrilled that the City of Ottawa together with the Ottawa Art Gallery has created this wonderful new art gallery to exhibit works from our collection. The new Ottawa Art Gallery is a beautiful, warm and welcoming space and a perfect home for our gift to the city.”

-Brenda Firestone

Firestone Collection of Canadian Art (FCCA) Facts

  • Over 1600 works in the collection.
  • Over half the works in the collection are by the members of the Group of Seven.
  • There is an unusually high number of women artists represented in comparison to collections of Canadian art of the same era.
  • The large majority were obtained directly from the artists, many of whom maintained relationships with the Firestone family.
  • The Firestones collected works from Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Provinces, Prairie Provinces, and Western Canada.
  • The work was collected between the early 1950s and the mid-1980s.
  • The donation of the entire collection to the Ontario Heritage Foundation was completed in 1973.
  • It passed to the City of Ottawa in 1992, and was transferred to the Ottawa Art Gallery for exhibition and conservation.
  • One of the stipulations by the Firestone family in donating the collection was “that the collection continue to be on display, accessible to the public, in the Greater Ottawa area.”
  • It has been on continual exhibition rotation at the Ottawa Art Gallery since 1992.
  • Public and educational programming such as artist talks, screenings and workshops also highlight the collection.

Dropbox Image Folder:
– Images of the new Firestone Gallery
– Artwork selection from the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art
– Archive images of the Firestone House

For media enquiries or to book an interview with Brenda Firestone or Alexandra Badzak:
Véronique Couillard
Ottawa Art Gallery
613-233-8699, x244

About the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG)
OAG is Ottawa’s municipal art gallery and cultural hub. Located in Ottawa’s downtown core, the expanded Gallery is a contemporary luminous cube designed by KPMB Architects and Régis Côté et associés.


OAG is Open from 10 AM to 6 PM Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday | from 10 AM to 9 PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Admission is always FREE. Register for Summer Art Camps!