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The Work: Phantom Glacier, 1989
Watercolour on paper
27.94 cm ×  38.1 cm (11 x 15 Inches)
Location: Elliott Louis Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
< The Artist: Toni Onley



Toni Onley OC
Born: November 20, 1928, Douglas, Isle of Man
Died: February 29, 2004, plane crash, Fraser River British Columbia, Canada
Parents: He's the son of James and Florence (Lord) Onley. His father was an English actor.
    He was a Manx painter noted for his landscapes and abstract works. Born in Douglas on the Isle of Man, he moved to Canada in 1948, and lived in Brantford, Ontario.
Among his works are many watercolours depicting the northern Canadian landscape. Onley painted natural subjects according to his view to create beautiful landscapes in the Canadian tradition. Icebergs, trees, water and coasts are the prominent features in these artworks. He also painted abstractly, particularly during the 1960s, when he produced his Polar series.
    He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1999.
    He was made a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.
    He died at the age of 76 in a plane crash on the Fraser River near Maple Ridge, British Columbia, as he was practising takeoffs and landings in a Lake LA-4-200 Buccaneer amphibious plane.
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   Toni attended St. Mary's primary school and Ingleby Secondary School, Isle of Man, then studied under a local landscape water colourist John Nicholson and at the Douglas School of Fine Arts (1942-46).
    He came to Canada in 1948 and settled for a time at Brantford, Ontario.
    He married Brantford art critic and amateur painter Mary Burrows in 1950
    They had two daughters Jennifer (b.1951) and Lynn (b.1954).
    Following the death of his wife Mary, Onley moved with his children to Penticton, B.C., where his parents had retired.
    In 1957 he won a scholarship offered by the Institute Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he took his two daughters. He stayed in Mexico three years.
    He had married Gloria Knight in 1961 and in 1967 their son James Anthony was born.
   ...although he met and was living with Yukiko by 1976 (he left Gloria for her), there is no mention of their relationship, nor does Yukiko have any involvement in the Toni Onley Archives or interest in the estate.
    Gloria, along with her son, James, and Toni's daughter, Lynn, from the artist's first marriage, controls the archives and estate. "I'm not considered part of Toni's legacy," Yukiko adds.
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Note I: The Manx (Manx: Ny Manninee) are an ethnic group originating from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea in northern Europe. They are primarily a Celtic people, though with significant Norse and English influences.
Note II: Toni Onley made over 300 editions of silkscreen prints from 1969 to 1989.  Many editions were sold out or nearly sold out by the time Toni stopped marketing them about 1990, to concentrate on his more lucrative watercolour and oil landscape paintings.
    Characteristic of these prints was the expression of landscape by its most prominent features.  Without the details of realism, it was another form of landscape art, produced by a degree of abstraction from nature, but one that sought recognition of the familiar rather than the subjectivity of pure abstraction.

Toni Onley painting on Ubyssey Glacier in Garibaldi Park















Volcano, Kyushu, Japan, by Toni Onley
October 4 1981, Watercolour, 11 3/4 x 15 1/4 inches














Toni Onley, Megoliths of the Stone Forest, Yunnan Province, China 1988, Watercolour on Paper, 11 X 15 inches

Dearest Yukiko,
    I am in a nightmare from which I cannot awake. ... Toni Onley wrote this in October, 1991, in the weeks after his third wife, Yukiko Onley, left him. It was just one of a series of heart-wrenching pleas the Vancouver-based artist sent to her, beautifully scripted in handwritten, black ink on Japanese paper - and illustrated with the watercolours for which he was renowned. - Article in the Globe and Mail dated Nov 5 2008