A historic North Vancouver house in Lynn Valley where one of the Group of Seven artists lived and painted is up for sale.
Frederick Varley (1881-1969) called the house at 4395 Rice Lake Rd. his home in the 1930s.
He said while the house doesn’t have a plaque on it and isn’t on the heritage house register, it is a house with an intriguing story that’s part of the country’s visual arts history.
“Lynn Valley residents, and now more than ever, people from across the Lower Mainland have walked by this home for generations, probably many unaware that it’s where Varley created some of his most acclaimed pieces,” Council said by email.
“We’d love to see this home move on to someone who appreciates the history, and the stories — as it relates to both Frederick Varley and Lynn Valley.”
The Group of Seven were seven male landscape painters who formed in 1920 in Toronto and disbanded in 1933. Their work focused on a romantic, European-based modernist depiction of the Canadian landscape as majestic and uninhabited. They were among the country’s most important artists in the early 20th century.
In 1926, Varley moved out west where he taught at the newly formed Vancouver School of Applied and Decorative Arts. He went on to open the B.C. College of Arts with fellow Group of Seven artist J.E.H. MacDonald. Although the school was successful, it went out of business because of the Great Depression. In 1936, Varley left for Ottawa.
In 1932, Varley noticed a small house was “high up on the bank of Lynn Creek,” Eve Lazarus said in her local history blog Every Place Has a Story.
“He walked around the place, peered in the windows and saw that it was deserted.”
The house was in rough condition with porches front and back and a unfinished room on the main floor. He could see Mt. Seymour and Lynn Peak from the verandah.
The house came with a piano. It was available for $8 a month. From the house, Varley could walk to the last stop on the streetcar line that would take him to the ferry across Burrard Inlet to Vancouver.
“That was the happiest time,” Varley told a reporter years later. “The only place in the world that I truly felt was mine.”