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Fonds F0211 - John Snow fonds.

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John Snow fonds.


  • ca.1920 - ca.1999 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

1.63m of textual records, photographs, drawings, artwork and 1 video recording.

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Dr. John Harold Thomas Snow (1911 – 2004) LL.D (Hon), R.C.A., A.S.A., was an important contributor to the arts in Calgary. Born in Vancouver, Snow and his family moved to England prior to the First World War. He returned to Canada in 1919, and in 1928 embarked upon a long and successful career as a banker with the Royal Bank of Canada. Following service as a navigator with the RAF and RCAF during the Second World War, Snow began studying at the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (now the Alberta College of Art and Design), which was at the time located in Coste House. It was there that Snow met numerous distinguished members of Alberta’s art community, including Maxwell Bates (1906 – 1980), a man who would become Snow’s lifelong friend and collaborator.

In 1953, two years after Snow purchased a house at 915 18 Avenue SW in Calgary (which is now named after him), Bates and Snow salvaged a press and some lithographic stones from a commercial printer who was no longer using them. They installed the press in Snow’s basement, and began the process of teaching themselves lithography through experimentation, books, and the guidance of commercial printers. A press remains in the basement to this day, although it does not appear to be one of the salvaged presses.

Snow was widely regarded as a master printer. In addition to creating his own work, he printed images for other artists, including Bates, Illingworth Kerr, W. L. L. Stevenson, and Peter Daglish. His willingness to work with other artists seems to have extended into his banking career: it is rumoured that Snow never turned down a loan to a needy artist.

Snow married Kathleen (Kay) Allen (1918-1995) in 1963. As a couple, their impact on the arts in Calgary was significant. In addition to creating a sense of community by hosting dinners for their artist friends, Kathleen—a teacher and librarian—wrote Maxwell Bates : biography of an artist (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1993). Snow and his friend, Quenten Doolittle, also contributed to the arts in Calgary by co-founding New Works, a non-profit society dedicated to the creation of contemporary classical music.

While Snow is perhaps best known for his prints—especially his lithographs and woodcuts—he also created paintings and sculptures. Two of his sculptures are currently located on the property. His work, which is often more concerned with colour than with three-dimensional forms, is seen as part of an important move toward modernism in Alberta. His prints, paintings and sculptures are held in numerous collections, including the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Glenbow Museum, the Nickle Arts Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada, among others. In 1996, Snow’s significant achievements were recognized when he was appointed to the Alberta Order of Excellence. From:

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Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of John Snow's business and personal records and includes correspondence with galleries on sales and exhibits, artist colleagues including Illingwood Kerr, financial records of sales, inventories of his artwork, lithoprinted cards, posters, poetry on Maxwell Bates, and childhood scrapbooks and family photographs, and a proposal for a municipal plaza from 1987.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Fonds is divided into 11 series: Business Correspondence, Personal Correspondence, Financial records, Business Proposal, Personal Records, Professional Memberships, Works by Others, Audio-Video Recordings, Writings by John Snow; Art Work Inventories; and Exhibit Posters.

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Language and script notes

Text in English.

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Notes area


Kathleen M. Snow collection of material relating to biography of Maxwell Bates.

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