Jo Lee Talks To The Honourable Norman Dyson, Q.C.

By Josephina Lee Mascioli-Mansell

Edward Arthur Dyson

It began many years ago. At a social gathering. At the residence of The Honourable Mr. Justice Norman Dyson when he called me aside wanting to introduce me to a gentleman he held in high esteem. The tall, distinctive individual was from Denver, Colorado and second to none in his artistic portrayals of yacht clubs and rare-breed horses. The man was the Justice’s brother, Edward Arthur Dyson, whose persona mirrored the talent he would portray in each of his paintings over the next four decades. Forty years of powerful works presented in too small a part for JO LEE’s Autumn 2010 publication.

JO LEE: Judge, could we have ever envisioned so many years ago, how your brother’s works of art would ripple into the power of immense strength portrayed in each piece he’s created?

THE RCYC’s 2009 Canada’s Cup defender, “Honour”, lost to the appropriately named “Heart Breaker” from Michigan by less than a boat length in the 7th race of a best of seven series. Encroaching infirmities made “Honour” my last paining.

THE HONOURABLE NORMAN DYSON: It was no surprise to me – realizing the creative and intellectual capacity that Edward had as a young person. Jo Lee, I would like to thank you on behalf of Ed and myself for facilitating the presentation of his paintings.

JL: It is with distinct admiration that I bring to our millions of readers the presence of a beloved and accomplished Canadian. Edward Arthur Dyson. And I thank you, Your Honour, an Ontario Superior Court Judge, retired, for sharing with the world what we know Edward would want to do if he were well enough to be part of this interview, today.

Judge, Edward was well known in the business world both in Canada and the USA but when did his love of painting begin?

HND: Jo Lee, Edward loved painting from his youth and produced the odd fine painting from the time he was a teenager, but upon retirement from the Gates Corporation his concentration verged on the obsessive. He painted virtually every day, from 59 to almost 83 years of age, at which time his infirmities forced him to quit.

THE ROYAL CANADIAN YACHT CLUB: Toronto Island on Lake Ontario hanging in the City Clubhouse. The late Paul Phelan’s famed “Red Jacket” is in the foreground lying at leisure.

JL: Well then, shall we begin at the beginning? Did Edward’s early years in Toronto, Canada have a major influence on him?

HND: A lower middle class neighborhood often produces more than its share of leaders, over achievers and creative people. The Toronto area of East York is one of those places.

My brother Edward began life there in 1927. He became a leader, an overachiever and the quintessential creative man. His early years forecast his later multi talents. He skipped two grades in lower school and finished high school at 16 years of age. Edward then joined the Royal Canadian Navy.

THE ROYAL ST. LAWRENCE YACHT CLUB – Montréal on the St. Lawrence River. This painting hangs in the club’s dining room.

JL: Quite an adventuresome step for a young man. Do you suppose this is where he immersed himself in the naval motif that appears in so many of his paintings?

HND: Ed’s experience of having served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the last two years of World War II had a great impact on him and yes, surfaced often in his paintings. However, composing music was another one of Edward’s achievements – composing for the All Varsity Review and The U.C. Follies during his attendance at the University of Toronto.


JL: So there he was, a young, distinctive man of the world composing music and painting the odd canvas. What brought him into the world of corporate management, production and economics?

TEAM ROPIN’: is a popular sport in Colorado with some excellent riders at these events. This painting was created near Franktown where there are two such facilities.

HND: Well, he was an extremely brilliant young man who was very interested in problem solving. He was also fascinated by manufacturing processes. I can recall him pondering, way back then, whether Bakelite or plastic would be the next wonder product of manufacturing. I think he thought it would be Bakelite. His intellect and inclinations made him a natural and a great asset to the manufacturing world.

JL: The corporate jungle was so utterly different in Edward’s day. Did he have a difficult time climbing the executive ladder?

TOUGH ROPIN’: a roper has a difficult time roping a steer and then tying it up by the feet.

MJD: Not really! After Edward spent a couple of years with Massey- Harris in Brantford, Ontario, Canada he joined an American firm then called the Gates Rubber Company.

Although not big in Canada, Gates was, nevertheless, one of the world’s largest privately owned companies. Edward had a meteoric career at Gates. Soon the young East York kid was moved to the head office in Denver, Colorado. When he retired from Gates in 1989, he was the executive vice-president of the larger of its two divisions.

For five years, after moving back to Toronto, at the bidding of vice-presidents from GM, IBM and Pittsburgh Paints, he headed the Ontario Government funded program, Manufacturing Research Corporation of Ontario. During this time Canada’s economy was in a serious recession, and Edward’s endeavors helped to save many jobs and companies.

ARABIAN FAMILY: this group was about five miles east of Parker, Colorado on a ranch that raised only Arabian horses. This is a beautiful scene and a beautiful ranch.  One should drive east of Parker and see the wonderful countryside, loaded with horse farms.

JL: As we know, Edward was innovative in all things including his approach to life as a family man. Will you tell us about this?

BLACK LADY AND SON: I have always liked this painting because of the background and because the highlights of the horses are so apparent. This was done at Plum Valley Ranch, a horse-breeding farm near Perry Park, Colorado.

HND: Jo Lee, during his Brantford days with Massey-Harris, Edward met and eloped with his wonderful wife, Norma. They have shared an eventful and happy 59 years together. Their only daughter, Leslie, is married to Jim Dickson. They have two children. Eventually, after retirement in Toronto, Norma and he moved back to Colorado to be closer to their daughter and her family.

POLO: in Colorado

JL: And he continued to paint: it sounds like Edward brought a variety of skills to whatever he set his mind to. How would you describe his pursuit of painting?

PROTECTING OUR CAPITOL: the main reason I like this paining, which was done very soon after 9/11, was because the United States Coast Guard apparently had this hanging in the Smithsonian for a while. I understand it is now hanging in the Coast Guard headquarters.

HND: As a painter he was both eclectic and prodigious. In his first phase, his focus was primarily on maritime themes. He painted boats, landscapes and seascapes for many years and was one of the United States Coast Guard’s official painters. Many of his paintings now hang in both Canadian and U.S. Naval buildings and government offices and yacht clubs.

FIRE ON OUR WATERWAYS: this painting won the “George Gray Award” which I am very proud of. George Gray was a member of the prestigious Salmagundi Art Club in New York and was well known for his large murals in the railroad stations in the American East and Midwest. This fire took place near Houma, Louisiana in a large oil tank farm.  The Coast Guard had much to do with putting it out.

JL: Of course, Edward didn’t restrict himself to maritime themes as our collection here very much demonstrates. Was there any particular time when his muse took a different direction?

My brother, The Honourable Mr. Justice Norman Dyson.

HND: With virtually no maritime scenes in Colorado, he turned his attention to painting horses, people on their horses and scenes in arid areas. He became a master painter in the representational style of Remington or Rockwell, winning many awards, accolades and competitions.

KATHARINE HEPBURN: I had much trouble getting her “form” of hair. Thus, I copied the work of a famous U.S. portrait artist in order to learn how to get the proper style.

JL: And when or how did Edward venture into portraiture?

HND: On one charity fund-raising occasion, a basketball player with the Denver Nuggets won a raffle for a painting by Edward and promptly requested a portrait of his wife. Edward explained that he was not a portrait painter and inquired as to whether or not the man owned a boat. Evidently he did not and insisted on the portrait of his wife. Edward relented but cautioned the raffle winner, again, that he was “not a portrait painter”. He completed the painting and the man was quite satisfied.

Edward promptly sent us a photograph of the painting and announced: “I am now a portrait painter. Send me photos of anyone you want me to paint.” He was kidding, but my wife Rose and I did send him a photo of our son Arthur and received back a beautiful portrait, which we now treasure.

THE MUSICIAN: this young lad was at the High Prairie Grand Prix but instead of watching the outstanding riders – he was sitting on a concrete step, playing his violin. I put him on a wooden step – it fits the scene better. The creases in his jeans – and the whole painting – seemed to come out OK.

JL: What a giving heart! What a wonderful story, Judge! Your brother has touched many lives.

HND: Edward was always very generous with paintings for charitable causes, especially if children were involved, following in his father’s footsteps. Arthur Dyson Sr. had always been supportive of youth groups.

Edward’s oeuvre has given countless people great pleasure and without doubt will continue to in the future. It is inspiring how a young kid from East York, given a chance, can become a giant in any field.

HMCS SACKVILLE:  This painting is considered by the Canadian government to be the “Memorial to the Battle of the North Atlantic”. I belong to a group in Halifax, Nova Scotia that raised the funds to put this vessel back the way it was during WW II. It was a corvette.  These warships did much of the escort work of merchant vessels in the North Atlantic during that time. It is docked at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax and tended to in the winter by the Halifax Dockyard.

JL: Thank you Judge and thank you, Edward, for letting your brother share your gifts with us today.

LION’S WHELP: this scene is off the coast of Maine.  I think that it is an exciting painting with the degree of detail, the spray, the angle of the boat so that everything on the boat can be seen, and the water.  All of these things make for a good painting.

LIGHTHOUSE: this lighthouse is not far from Bar Harbor, Maine – actually quite near Bass Harbor.  I favor this whole scene with the waves crashing on the rocks, the rocks themselves, the old lighthouse and the trees.
HMCS FREDRICTON: the HMCS stands for “Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship”. This ship is a very  modern frigate, a warship that is over 500 feet long, the most up-to-date electronics, full range of missiles, has a helicopter hangers, etc. I like the way the water is coming off the fo’c’sle.  It shows how rough the sea is.
BINGHAM LAKE: we once lived on the Pinery on Bingham Lake, which is about five miles South of Parker. We saw many wonderful sights on the lake. The scene of the father and two boys was certainly a good sight. It is too bad that more fathers do not follow this practice.

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