The Travels, Art and Teaching of Miss Edith Fanny Kirk

Miss Edith Fanny Kirk was a well known member of the local art community from the late 1910s until she passed away in 1953. The story of her life involves a disrupted family, years of art training, travel in Britain and France and emigration to Canada.

Edith Kirk was born near Sheffield, England in July 1858. Her mother died when she was three years old. Her family moved to Manchester where her father remarried in 1866. She could not get along with her stepmother so, to alleviate the tension at home, was enrolled in art school. In 1888, she received accreditation as an art teacher.

In April 1905, at the age of 46, Edith Kirk sailed from Liverpool to Halifax. She spent her first winter in Canada just south of the 60th parallel in the gold mining town of Atlin, BC, working as a nurse’s helper in a mission hospital. In 1911 Miss Kirk was a public school teacher in Empire Valley, west of 100 Mile House in BC.

Edith Kirk also lived in Vancouver, Kelowna, and St. John, NB. She attended several Alpine Club of Canada camps, not as a climber but as an artist. She returned to England for a year in 1914-1915 but chose to return to Canada. Then, in 1918, Miss Kirk arrived in Lethbridge where she continued to paint, and taught many young people how to paint and draw.

We are currently developing an exhibit and publication about Miss Kirk and are looking for information, photographs and paintings that will help tell more of her story. Her watercolour paintings were signed E. F. Kirk. If you have anything related to Miss Kirk please contact Curator Wendy Aitkens at

Current exhibits at the Galt are “Arts of China”, “The Literal Truth”, “Treasure Maps”, and “Archives exposed… 100 years of Activism”. Look for details at