John Ensor (1905-1955)

John Ensor (1905-1955)

Before he settled in Canada in his 30’s, Arthur John Ensor was already a well-travelled artist who had enjoyed a thriving career as a designer. Born in Wales, Ensor began his artistic training in the early 20s at the Accademia di BelleArti in Florence. He received a diploma in art history from the University of London and received specialized training in mural painting at the Royal College of Art, going on to paint a number of murals throughout the UK.

In 1930 he found employment as a poster illustrator for the Empire Marketing Board and then as an “artist in industry” for Imperial Chemical Industries. An inheritance provided Ensor the freedom to travel, whetting his lifelong interest in combining travel and art making. He discovered Canada just before the outbreak of WWII and was left with such a lasting impression he decided to settle there after the war.

He worked as a war artist during the Second World War, serving with the British Royal Engineers, helping design a mobile anti-aircraft gunner control post and the “Mulberries,” a pair of portable harbours used in the D-Day landing at Normandy in 1944. At war’s end he taught classes in art and design in Germany for the occupying British forces and local people to re-establish the community.1


1 Art for War and Peace: How a Great Art Project Helped Canada Discover Itself” by Ian Sigvaldason/Scott Steedman published by Read Leaf 2015