Sara Galbraith Calder
by J.W.L Forster

In 1894, Hamilton was in the throes of expanding. A few women, fearful that cultural pursuits would be overlooked in the surging industrial growth, met at the home of Sara Galbraith Calder. From this, the Women's Art Association was formed. With Sara Calder [Pictured right] as first President, they met in private homes and in the stock room of central city merchants. ... read more about Sara Calder.

In 1914, a temporary Art Gallery was set up in the old Public Health Building on Main West, and a room was given to the Association for their permanent use. This group of women constantly pressed for a new Art Gallery, raising the sum of $2,313.13 for a donation.

On April 19, 1946 this organization was incorporated. It was the brainchild of President Juanita Le Barre Symington. This was important as it allowed the organization to own property, control its finances and still be affiliated with the mother association in Toronto and associations in Owen Sound, Peterborough and Stratford.

In 1953 Wilhelmina 'Mina' Alexander (President 1925-1928) turned the sod for a new gallery at Forsythe and Main Street West. In 1968 once again the Women's Art Association established a Special Project Fund and raised $12,608. from many and various events to be used as a donation for the present day Art Gallery at 123 King Street West.

The aims of the Women's Art Association of Hamilton were to:


The first exhibition was held in 1896 and every year since then, WAAH exhibits have been held in various galleries and locations with an annual juried show at the Art Gallery of Hamilton every year since 1947.


The WAAH presented the following to the permanent collection:


Between 1940 and 1947 the WAAH made donations of art books to secondary schools in Hamilton. Art competition prizes were also awarded to winning entrants. 1967 Centennial Project – travelling sculpture entitled "Man" by Rebecca Sisler presented to secondary schools