Photo from the BC Archives

Photo from the BC Archives

Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher, 1906 - 1994

Edyth Hembroff-Schleicher has had the misfortune of being labeled "Emily Carr's Friend", however, she was a sophisticated, well-educated, well-travelled artist and writer.  For her talents, Hembroff-Schleicher was never recognized.

Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, but when she was only six years old her parents made the move to Victoria, BC and settled near Craigdarroch Castle. 

During high school Hembroff-Schleicher studied at the Island Arts and Crafts Club with Margaret Kitto. After graduation, she went on to study art in San Francisco at the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA) and  the California School of Arts and Crafts (CSAC) before heading off to Paris with her close friend, Marian Allardt. The two studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and at Andre Lhote’s studio. Hembroff-Schleicher spent her days sketching, painting in oils and watercolours, and taking note in the latest women’s fashions.

This interest in fashion would lead to her first meeting with Emily Carr in 1930, fresh from her travels in Europe. Carr had read an article in the society pages about a dress Hembroff-Schleicher hand-painted herself and decided to invite her over to her James Bay boarding house for tea.

Despite the 30 year age gap, the two women would become close friends. They shared the common experience of attending three of the same schools in England, France and California, and a love for sketching outdoors. 

Hembroff-Schleicher and Carr would take three sketching trips together, during this time Hembroff-Schleicher would paint Carr’s portrait, and it was clear she was a great admirer of the older woman. They would continue this friendship in person and later by correspondence until Carr’s death in 1945. 

1n 1930, Hembroff-Schleicher exhibited with the Island Arts and Crafts Society (IACS). Her painting “Nu” was shown at a Paris exhibition and won a major award at the Art Institute of Seattle.

In 1932, Hembroff-Schleicher exhibited four paintings in the “Modern Room,” a show organized by Max Maynard. Emily Carr, Ina Uhthoff and Hembroff-Schleicher were the only women in the show. In 1981, she organized a recreation of the Island Arts and Crafts Society’s Modern Room Exhibit at the Emily Carr Gallery in Victoria. Her catalogue, written for this event, is now a collector’s item.

Hembroff-Schleicher met her first (and second) husband while she was posted to RCAF headquarters in Ottawa in 1942 where she worked as a translator and examiner for the German PoW Censorship Section. Her marriage to her first husband Fredrick Brand ended in divorce in 1949, and she later married Dr. Julius Schleicher, who was her supervisor in Ottawa. They continued working for the civil service after the war, only returning to Victoria in 1961 when they retired. During her time in Ottawa, Hembroff-Schleicher gave up painting altogether.

Once the couple returned to Victoria, Hembroff-Schleicher started to write her first book about Emily Carr, entitled “M.E.”,  it was published in 1969.

In 1974, the provincial government appointed Hembroff-Schleicher as a special consultant on Emily Carr. She researched the life of Carr for the Provincial archives, the result was a follow up sequel in 1978, “Emily Carr, the Untold Story.”

Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher died in Victoria in 1994.

Selected Collections

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC
The University of Victoria Legacy Art Gallery, Victoria, BC
The Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC
The BC Archives, Victoria, BC
The Feckless Collection, Vancouver, BC