“Everybody said that I would never make a living at sculpture in Canada. But I’ve never listened a great deal to everybody, so I just went on drawing and modelling. I taught myself all that I know.”
Canadian Sculptor Walter Allward is best known for his public monuments in Toronto, Ottawa, Brantford, Stratford and Peterborough, and for the Vimy Ridge War Memorial in Vimy, France. He did very few small bronzes.
Allward studied at Toronto’s Central Technical School with William Cruikshank. In his mid-teens, he apprenticed as a draughtsman with the architectural firm Gibson & Simpson. At 19, he began working at the Don Valley Brick Works, where he modelled reliefs in terracotta. It was at this time that he received his first public commission for Toronto’s North West Rebellion Monument for Queen’s Park (1894–1896). In 1898, Allward visited London and Paris. As a young artist, Allward admired the work of Michelangelo, but his greatest influence was the work of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin.
Allward designed the supporting architecture for all his monuments, including the Vimy Ridge War Memorial (Vimy, France 1920–1936), the model for which is in the National Gallery (Canada “Bereft”: Maquette for the Vimy Memorial, c. 1921). The monument at Vimy was unveiled by King Edward VIII on July 16, 1936.
Allward was elected to the Ontario Society of Artists in 1900 and became an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1903 and an Academician in 1914. He was a founding member of the Arts and Letters Club in 1908, a member of the Canadian Art Club in 1909 and Honorary Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (1936).