Born in Hardieville (now part of Lethbridge) in 1914, Irene McCaugherty was a painter, poet, writer, and photographer. Her career as a painter started when she won a certificate for landscape painting while in grade 3 at Fleetwood School. This painting was exhibited at the Lethbridge Fair and started Irene on her career.
Her paintings, a trademark size of 50cm wide, reflected the landscape and views as seen through a truck windshield. Her folk style reflected the cultural narrative of prairie people and their life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Irene invited the viewer in to share the old-timers’ experiences and stories and some people said that you could recognize actual people in her paintings.
She received an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Lethbridge for her work in preserving and presenting the history of southern Alberta. The Galt Museum & Archives has a number of Irene’s work in the Collection.
Irene was a regular visitor to the Galt Archives throughout her painting career, searching the photographic holdings for details of both natural and man-made landscapes to ensure that her paintings were completely authentic.