Fonds AR460 - Ted Harrison fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Ted Harrison fonds

General material designation

  • Multiple media

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the fonds.

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1935 - 2008 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

6.06 m of textural records and other material.

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Edward Hardy (Ted) Harrison was born in Wingate, County Durham, UK, 28 August, 1926, the son of Charles Edward and Martha (Thirlaway). Harrison married Robina (Nicky) McNicol 12 November 1960, and had one child, son Charles Edward. Harrison died in Victoria, British Columbia on January 16, 2015.

Harrison was educated at Wellfield Grammar School, Wingate (1943) and holds a National Diploma in Design (1950) from Hartlepool College of Art (Cleveland, UK), Art Teacher’s Diploma (1951) from the University of Durham ; and a Bachelor of Education (1977) from the University of Alberta. Among Ted Harrison’s many awards are the Order of Canada (1987), representation on a Canada Post Christmas stamp (1996), an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria (1998), a distinguished Alumni award from the University of Alberta (2002), membership in the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts (2004), an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Alberta (2005), an Honorary Doctorate from Malaspina University College, Nanaimo (2006) and the Order of British Columbia (2008).

From 1945-48 Harrison served with the British Army Intelligence Corps Field Security Section in India, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda and Somaliland with the rank of sergeant. Following teaching certification, Harrison taught at the following institutions: Technical School of for Boys in Middlesborough, UK (1951-57); the Slim School in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia (1958-62); Te Kauwhata District High School, New Zealand (1958-62); Wingate Junior School, Wingate, UK (1965-66); Dene House School in Peterlee, UK (1966-67); Wabasca Elementary School, Northern Alberta (1967-68); Carcross Elementary School, Yukon Territory -- where he also served as Fire Chief (1968-71); Yukon Vocational School (1971-75) and F. H. Collins Secondary School, Whitehorse (1975-1980).

Upon arrival in the Yukon in 1968 Harrison discovered the necessity of a different approach to painting. He began to simplify his shapes and employ bright, arbitrary colours producing a profound and unique visual statement. He was discovered at his first showing in Whitehorse (1971) and his work was brought to Vancouver and Ottawa, where it met with immediate success. Subsequently his paintings were represented in galleries all across Canada and in the United States. In addition to sought-after originals he produced hundreds of editions of screen prints.

Harrison’s first illustrated book was Northland Alphabet, produced in 1968 through the University of Alberta. Subsequently he achieved international success with: <Children of the Yukon (1977, author and illustrator); The Last Horizon (1980, autobiography); A Northern Alphabet (1982); The Cremation of Sam McGee (1986, illustrating text by Robert Service); The Shooting of Dan Magrew (1988, also by Robert Service); The Blue Raven (1989); O Canada (1992, illustrating the national anthem); and Maggie’s Magic Dream (2004). Harrison’s work was featured in a juried exhibition at the Bologna Book Fair (1978), with the International Board of Books for Youth in Nicosia, Cyprus (1984) and in Kobe, Japan. "The Cremation of Sam McGee" received a Best Book award from the New York Times in 1986. In 1993 Harrison and his wife Nicky moved from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, to Victoria B. C. Nicky died in 2006.

He has been the subject of a number of films and a major book, "Ted Harrison: Painting Paradise" by Katherine Gibson (Crown Publications, Victoria 2009).

See the following link for UVic Library catalogue record:

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds reflects the development of Harrison's career as a painter following 28 years as a teacher, and consists of the following series: Harrison Family and Personal; Accounting; Teaching; Art Works; Production; Harrison Appearances; Publishing; Projects; Galleries; Photography; and Miscellaneous Objects.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by Ted Harrison, August 2011.


Fonds was received by UVic Archives with some original file titles in place. Series arrangement was imposed by the archivist.

Language of material

  • English

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Finding aid available with file level control.

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2011-008, 2017-006, 2017-016, 2017-020

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created, February 5, 2013.
Revised, December 12, 2023.

Language of description

  • English

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Accession area