Paintings donated to NIC Foundation.

HMS SWIFTSURE by Peter Robinson is one of 19 paintings donated to the North Island College Foundation.

HMS SWIFTSURE by Peter Robinson is one of 19 paintings donated to the North Island College Foundation.

The North Island College Foundation has received an extraordinary gift of 19 original oil paintings by renowned marine artist Peter Robinson.

The paintings will be unveiled at a cocktail reception this Saturday at North Island College (NIC)’s Trades Training Centre, located at the Comox Valley Campus.

Robinson’s The History of the Royal Navy in British Columbia series parallels the true history of British Columbia from its inception. The ships and their visits can be divided into a number of distinct time periods which encompass 132 years, from 1778 to 1910.  These include the period of establishing sovereignty from 1778 to 1795; the colonization of Vancouver Island from 1846 to 1853; the war with Russia from 1854 to 1856; the gold rush crisis from 1850 to 1868; the dispute over the San Juan Islands from 1854 to 1872; the entry of British Columbia into the Dominion of Canada in 1871; and the subsequent establishment of a naval base in B.C. for the protection of the Dominion of Canada. The Royal Navy’s presence in B.C. ended in 1910 with the formation of the Royal Canadian Navy, and from that time forward, Canada looked after her own naval forces.

For this series of paintings, Robinson selected ships that were significant to each of these various time frames. Great care was taken to depict them accurately and in the locale in which they operated.

Born in Montreal, Robinson studied under the tutelage of Group of Seven artist Arthur Lismer while attending McGill University.

His interest in the sea and its ships was rooted deeply in the experience of his own life. At the age of 24, he forsook the start of a promising engineering career to join the Royal Canadian Navy. Over an eight-year span, he toured the globe, from Africa and the Bahamas to the Northwest Passage and the North Pole.

Robinson began painting full time in 1970 and enjoyed much commercial success, becoming very well known for his historical paintings of sailing ships and fishboats.  In addition to his career as a marine artist, Robinson shared his considerable talents with the Co-Val Choristers and the Courtenay Little Theatre Society.  Robinson lived in Courtenay until his death in 1995.

This gift was made possible through the generosity of Vancouver businessman Jack Farley, a long-time friend and business partner of Robinson’s.

Farley has been active with numerous educational, cultural and sports organizations over the years. He served as treasurer and president of the BC Lions and as president of both the Canadian Football League and the Western Football Conference. After being inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame as a builder, Farley chaired the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum Foundation, which raised $5 million to build a new facility at BC Place Stadium. He has also served as a member of Simon Fraser University’s board of governors, as a director of the Vancouver Opera Association, treasurer of the Community Arts Council of Vancouver and past president of Probus Club Vancouver. In 2008, Farley received a BC Community Achievement Award.

In addition to The History of the Royal Navy in British Columbia series, Farley has also donated 49 additional paintings and prints to the North Island College Foundation, which will be auctioned at a later date. Proceeds from the auction will be directed to the Peter Robinson Endowment Fund, which provides financial support to NIC Fine Arts students.

Interested members of the public are invited and welcome to attend the reception this Saturday night. Cocktails and entertainment will begin at 7 p.m., with the unveiling and speeches to follow at 8 p.m.

To RSVP or for further information, contact the North Island College Foundation at 250-334-5000 ext 4039 or

— North Island College Foundation

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