Photo: The High River Times, High River AB

Photo: The High River Times, High River AB

Martha Isabel Houston, 1896 - 1980

Martha Isabel Houston is a Canadian visual artist who was born November 22, 1896 in Newark, New Jersey, USA.

She went to schooling Colorado where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and French from the University of Denver.She immigrated into Canada in 1914. 

Houston taught in the small town of Magrath, Alberta before moving to High River in 1942. She taught English and French, however she also taught art when it was included in the school curriculum, she worked in a variety of media, claiming it "kept her fresh". 

Her most famous student was Joe Clark. When he became Canada’s Prime Minister, the media flocked to High River and interviewed the locals looking for insights into Clark’s personality. As Clark’s former English teacher Houston was in high demand and gave countless interviews.

In 1963, Houston attended the Banff School of Fine Arts, something she enjoyed so much, she returned twelve more summers to study at the Centre. She hiked all over the Banff landscape producing delicate watercolour paintings.

Through her classes at Banff, she would also dabble in oil and acrylic paint, pen and ink and even silkscreen printing. However, she really took to linoblock printing, producing several prints that reflected her travels to British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Arizona.

In 1975, she was one of four artists chosen to show at the Calgary Stampede. That same year, a retrospective of her work was held at the High River Memorial Centre. 

Houston retired from teaching in 1965 and spent her final years travelling and creating art. She passed away in High River in 1980.

Selected Collections
 Museum of the Highwood, High River, AB
The Banff Centre, Banff, AB
Canadian Pacific Railway Collection, Calgary, AB
The Feckless Collection, Vancouver, BC