Mary Hiester Ried

Canada's Adopted Daughter & Artist

#OTD Born today in 1854, the extraordinary floral still life painter and teacher Mary Hiester Reid (Books By This Author).

Born in Pennsylvania, Mary Augusta Hiester met George Reid (six years younger than her) at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts during school sketching trips. George later recalled that the trips were great for art's sake and gave him the chance to be with "the beautiful Mary Hiester on their expeditions."

After that, they often worked together, and that winter, Mary invited George to accompany her back home for a weekend of sketching on the Schuylkill ("Sk-ooh-kill") River. Their fates were sealed together when they married in 1885.

The Reids spent every summer from 1891 to 1916 at Onteora ("Aunty Aura"), a private literary and artistic club founded by American artist Candace Wheeler in the Catskill Mountains near Tannersville, N.Y. They had a house and a studio, both designed on arts and crafts principles by George. They spent their time painting and teaching, their studio accommodating ten students, some of whom came from as far away as Toronto.

"A self-adopted Canadian who loved Canada," Mary was very humble. In 1910, a reviewer wrote in The Globe,

“Nothing can tempt her to talk about her pictures.”


Mary was among the first women accepted into the Ontario Society of Artists and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Her painting, Hollyhocks, is a personal favorite.

Reid was the preeminent female artist in Canada when she died.

She was celebrated for her,

"study and interpretation of Nature in those aspects that appealed most to her...glimpses of spring and autumn woodland, moonlit vistas, gorgeously colorful gardens, lovely skies, divinely tinted ends of evening, and the countless flowers of the fields….”


In 1922, a year after her death, Reid was the first female to be featured in a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto.

She willed her husband to her friend and rival - the younger painter and printmaker (24 years her junior), Mary Evelyn Wrinch.

As featured on
The Daily Gardener podcast:

Words inspired by the garden are the sweetest, most beautiful words of all.
Mary Hiester Reid
Mary Hiester Reid

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