Art at the Union Club

Art has long adorned the walls of the Union Club since the members acquired their first Clubhouse on Douglas Street in 1885. 

The collection reflected the tastes and interests of its members.  The first roster included circuit court judges, lawyers, land surveyors, mining engineers and military personnel. They delighted in its scenic splendours of the Province. Unsurprisingly, their taste coincided with the opportunities for sports fishing and big game hunting which this vast landscape offered in abundance. The Union Club was noted for its outstanding collection of mounted trophy heads.  In 1910 the Club loaned this collection of “taxidermy art” to the Dominion Government for exhibition at the Viennese World Exhibition.  The picture collection of paintings and prints also celebrated these wild-life “sports”, and the dramatic landscapes in which they were played, in the grand Romantic tradition. A significant portion of the membership, some in active service with Royal Navy and others retired officers from the British colonial armies, appreciated engraved prints of heroic battle scenes or ships clustered in exotic ports.
Over time this was to change. Architects such as club members William Ridgway Wilson, Francis Mawson Rattenbury and Samuel Maclure, along with collectors and connoisseurs like member John Shallcross, were active in founding the Victoria Arts and Crafts Institute for the education of artists, and the Arts and Crafts Society to organize local art exhibitions.  They both participated in and supported the North-West tradition of plein-air water-colour painting. 
More recently acquisitions feature the work of member artists such as Len Gibbs, Arthur Vickers, Judith Saunders and Stephen Lowe.  The Club has recently rededicated itself to further developing the art collection to reflect its own history of engagement in British Columbia culture and the interests of its members in current arts practice.