Know Your Neighbours – Charles Blisset Millner

Painting by Millner. Photo Attribution: St. Catharines Museum, 2001.194.1

Charles Blisset Millner was born in Bristol England in 1805. He arrived in St. Catharines around 1820. On the 2nd of May 1848 he married Ruth Phipps with whom he lived in Grantham Township at the corner of Vine and Carlton Streets. Charles is listed in the 1871 census as a farmer. While Charles did farm his property, he became the first art teacher at what is now the St. Catharines Collegiate. Millner’s art has found its way into several public and private holdings, but there is no evidence that there has ever been a “Millner Exhibit”. However, during the Rodman Hall Exhibit titled “200 Years of Art in St. Catharines” held between October 27th, 1996 and January 4, 1997 several pieces of Millner’s art were displayed. The St. Catharines Public Library owns one piece titled “Knight in Search of Adventure” and Rodman Hall owns several pieces, including: “Woman with Child and Onlooker”, “The River”, “Three Figures on a Hill”, “Landscape with Great Temple”, “Sheep, Trees, Water” and “Two Figures in a Landscape”. Brock University and several individuals all have one or more pieces and the St. Catharines Museum has his original sketch book.

Millner died in 1895.

When his wife passed away in 1900, she left the bulk of the estate to Marion Nelson Hooker, 1866-1946 (she married Frank Hooker). Marion was a former student of Charles. The inheritance allowed Marion to pursue her career and become a well-known artist. Between January 17 and April 11 1999, the Winnipeg Art Gallery held a showing of her works.

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