The Mayan Ruins: In 1838 John Caddy was posted to British Honduras. While there he and Patrick Walker - a British supreme court judge at Belize - were the first to explore and excavate the marvellous ancient Mayan ruins at Palenque, in Chiapas, Mexico (in 1839-40).

Caddy made numerous drawings of the site - some are in the Royal Ontario Museum - the first ever views of these archaeological marvels.

But it was the official American team of John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, who followed them, who won the glory because they published their book first.

Caddy couldn't even get the British government to reimburse him for the expenses he incurred on his expedition. His drawings were exhibited in London in 1842 but most were subsequently destroyed in a fire.

In 1840 Captain Caddy was posted to London, Ontario, then back to the West Indies, and back to London, in 1842. Tired of the grind away from his family, John Caddy retired from the British Army and settled in London, Ontario in 1844. He became town engineer.

In 1851 he moved his family to Hamilton Ontario, where he was employed in the engineering department of the Great Western Railway, till 1856, when he set up an art studio to work as a painter full time.

For two generations John Caddy was an important artistic contributor to the cultural life of this part of southern Ontario.

John Caddy gave art lessons privately and at the Wesleyan Female College. As an amateur painter he ranked high and gradually won professional status.

He exhibited his art annually and won prizes for Ontario landscapes, and flower and animal studies. He worked mostly with water colours, did an occasional oil, and drew in sepia.

He is chiefly remembered as a topographical artist of the Canadian landscape from the St. Lawrence to Lake Superior.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Cliffs at Port Stanley, Shore of Lake Erie, c 1848 - JH Caddy
Orig. watercolour on paper - Size - 12" x 24"
Found - St. Thomas, ON
On back "No 29 Port Stanley Cliffs," Prov. the Anderson Estate
This scene features workers on shore around a dismantled windlass, probably used to pull boats up on shore - one is beached beyond - to work on the hulls, when the lake is quiet for a spell. Smoke from a fire - where logs from land clearances are being turned into charcoal - wafts lazily skyward in the background, as a sailing ship off the point barely moves in the light airs.

This painting is unsigned but came from an "old wealth" St. Thomas estate auction, attributed to Caddy. Comparing how Caddy treated his figures in a known work (top) with this one makes it clear that Caddy painted them both. Note the distinctive daubs of paint on the hats, and the treatment of light and shadow on the pants and clothes of the figures.


Caddy Page 13

Great Canadian Art & Artists

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
McKay Mountain from Fort William, 1850 - JH Caddy
Orig. watercolour - Size - 11.25" x 20.5"
Found - Toronto, ON
A spectacular sunset scene by a master water colourist, at a remote fort (today's Thunder Bay) on Lake Superior, from which generations of fur traders once left the Great Lakes for the interior of Canada's western and northern regions, carrying trading goods, and returning, months later, with furs. On the dock two Indians watch a canoe expectantly, maybe hoping for a lift to the village whose tipis sit on the far side. On the right, North West Company workers are unloading firewood they have just brought in from inland on the dock. Steamships from Toronto, and beyond, will need all the wood they can stockpile, for their trips back to civilization.

John Caddy was born in Quebec, the son of a British artillery officer who was stationed there. Young Caddy was educated there and grew up in Amherstburg, Ontario, on the Detroit River.

At an early age he was sent for military training to the Royal Academy, at Woolwich, in England. He received instruction in drawing and painting.

In 1816 he - like his father before him - joined the Artillery as a cadet. He became a Lieutenant in 1827 and a Captain in 1840. To history he is known as Captain JH Caddy.

John Caddy married Georgiana Hamilton, the daughter of an Artillery colonel. First alone, then with her, and a growing family, he served in the 1820s and 1830s in the colonies in the British West Indies. There he painted some of the most memorable views that remain of St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Dominica, Trinidad, and Barbados.

In 1837 he returned to England and continued to paint there as well as in Scotland and Wales.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure






A wonderfully framed watercolour shows expedition members repacking, before moving on, probably somewhere along Lake Huron or Superior.

In fact even maps of 1837 show the vast area east of Georgian Bay - and the heart of today's holdiday country - as unexplored and unknown "except to traders."

The Survey Party - JH Caddy
Orig. watercolour on board - Size - 12" x 24"
Found - St. Thomas, ON
Prov. the Anderson Estate
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure









A view probably painted somewhere in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River.

Homestead on the St. Lawrence, JH Caddy c 1850
Orig. wc - Size - 15" x 19" oval
Found - Toronto, ON
Orig. frame & glass

Heritage Update - Canada's Military Painters 1759-1900

Perhaps the biggest group of paintings that show what Canada was like in its early days, was done by British military officers who were stationed here when settlement in Canada was mostly along the waterways of the eastern provinces. In between was trackless wilderness, with tiny villages dotted here and there, connected by rough trails or paths through the woods. Order and protection - when America was the only threat - was provided by British Army units scattered here and there, and officers of these units painted what they saw.

As part of their military training British army officers were taught how to draw and paint. In the days before photography good artists were valued for their ability to draw fortifications, entrenchments, batteries, defensive installations, and provide good likenesses of the countryside where they were posted by the Army.

In their leisure hours officers would paint "views" of interesting people, places, and events they saw around them. Men like James Cockburn, John Caddy, Phillip Bainbridge, Thomas Davies have provided some of the most memorable views of the Canada that once was.
Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. - 1996, 1999, 2005

John Herbert Caddy 1 - (1801-1883)

1 2 3 4 5 6