By John Qubti
Nearly one hundred years after the death of Egerton Ryerson—the founder of Ontario’s public school system—his family has been reunited at the school named in his honour.
Ryerson’s archives, located behind a glass wall on the third floor of the library in Jorgenson Hall, has acquired a portrait of the late Charles Ryerson, Egerton’s only son.
The portrait, which travelled all the way from Australia, was donated by Egerton’s great-grandson and joins two other family portraits already in the library, one of Egerton and another of his wife, Mary. Peter Ryerson, the couple’s great-great-grandson, donated those portraits in June 1999. Charles Ryerson was born in Toronto in 1847, and although he was an attorney, he is best remembered as secretary of the Toronto library.
The portrait, which dates back to the 1860s, is unsigned and arrived in Toronto this April without a frame.
Claude Doucet, who runs Ryerson’s archives, said the painting is in good condition compared to Egerton’s portrait, except for a few small tears and many years worth of grime.
“There’s not much we can do until funds are acquired,” said Doucet, who won’t put the fragile painting on display until it’s repaired, a process that could cost almost $15,000.
The Canadian Conservation Institute recently refurbished Egerton’s portrait, Doucet said, but Charles’ portrait, along with his mother Mary’s, will have to wait.
Doucet said he hopes some of the necessary funds can come from the university’s major fundraising drive, officially kicking off next fall.