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October 06 2006

Thomson Family Ensures Return of Dundas Collection

The Globe and Mail

Simon Houpt of The Globe and Mail announces that at the last moment, members of the Thomson family pledged more than $5 million in order to secure two dozen highly important works from the Dundas Collection of Northwest Coast First Nations art at auction. The works will be returning to Canadian institutions for the first time since they were exported from northern British Columbia in 1863.

The article reports that David Thomson had purchased the works in memory of his late father Kenneth, a media mogul and passionate art collector. He is expected to gift the works to the Art Gallery of Ontario, which is currently undergoing major renovation in order to add space for the Thomson Collection which also includes highly important Northwest Coast First Nations and Inuit art.

As Houpt notes, ‘the repatriation astonished observers in the cultural community who had expected that the high prices would prove to be out of the reach of Canadian bidders, primarily poorly endowed public institutions.’

The Thomson family was represented at the auction by art dealer Donald Ellis. Ellis said that the Thomson family had approached him following a previous article by Sarah Milroy published in The Globe and Mail in which he decried the Canadian dependence on government funding for cultural support. 

‘I know the government is under tremendous pressure; there's been a lot of criticism,’ Thomson is cited. ‘There were very few funds available for this auction; I'm in no position to be critical. Life is life; governments make priorities. But at the end of the day we're Canadians - this is a defining moment, and we need to, all of us, share in it.’

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Thomson Family Ensures Return of Dundas Collection