The Gooderham Fountain, constructed in 1911, was a monument to the wealthy industrialist William Gooderham who, along with his brother-in-law James Worts, established the Gooderham and Worts distillery in 1837.
The fountain was constructed on what was called the "Grand Plaza of Exhibition City," between the Horticulture Building, the Graphic Arts Building and the Administrative Building. Perhaps more than anything, the fountain found fame as a meeting place, inspiring the phrase, "meet me at the fountain."
In 1958, the Gooderham Fountain was torn down to make way for the Princess Margaret Fountain. The new fountain stands approximately 100 feet south of where the Gooderham Fountain was situated.
The Artist: Owen Staples (1866-1949)
This painting of the Gooderham Fountain was created by Owen Staples, the Canadian painter, etcher, pastelist, cartoonist, author, musician and naturalist.
Born in England, Staples and his family moved to Hamilton, Ontario in 1872. Abandoned by their father, the family moved to Rochester, New York in 1876. After the death of his mother in 1881, Staples was hired as a messenger boy at the Rochester Art Club, where he was given the nickname Poe. There he began his art training with Horatio Walker and Harvey Ellis.
After nine years in the United States, Staples moved to Toronto in 1885, to study under George Agnew Reid. That same year, he was hired by John Ross Robertson, founder of the Toronto Telegram. He was granted a leave of absence from the Telegram in 1886 to study in Philadelphia with Thomas Eakins and Thomas Pollack Anshutz at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
From 1888 to 1908, Owens worked for the Toronto Telegram as a staff artist, reporter, political cartoonist and illustrator for the J. Ross Collection.
Thereafter, Staples became a well-known artist, illustrating a number of books, executing commissioned murals, and producing a vast oeuvre of paintings, watercolours and etchings.
Staples also had a long association with the Group of Seven. His watercolours and his ability to "catch the light" were a big influence on the young Tom Thomson. He introduced the 18-year A.J. Casson to the local arts scene through the Arts and Letters Club.
Staples also hosted lively open houses on Sundays which attracted a vibrant cross-section of Toronto society, including a number of artists who would become members of the Group of Seven.