Orville Fisher at the San Francisco World's Fair in 1939. Photo credit: Vancouver Sun

Orville Fisher at the San Francisco World's Fair in 1939.
Photo credit: Vancouver Sun

Orville Fisher, 1911 - 1999

Bobbing offshore, watching Canadian troops struggle in water already stained with blood, Fisher realized that the 30 kg of art supplies in his backpack would drown him. So he threw them overboard and landed with only a 15-by-13-cm sketch pad of waterproof paper strapped to his wrist and a charcoal pencil. On the beach, in the midst of the carnage, Fisher made a series of sketches recording the successful landing.

from Fisher's obituary, Maclean's August 2, 1999

Born in Vancouver in 1911, Fisher studied at the Vancouver School of Art under painter Fred Varley. After graduation he formed an artistic partnership with fellow Vancouver artists, E.J. Hughes and Paul Goranson. Together, they completed murals for the Malaspina Hotel in Nanaimo and for the B.C. Pavilion at the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco.

When the Second World War broke out in 1939, Fisher joined as a private in the Royal Canadian Engineers. However, after realizing his artistic talents, Fisher was transferred to officer training and made an official war artist. On June 6th, 1944, Fisher was the only Allied war artist to take part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. He sketched 246 images in theatre that he later turned into a powerful series of oil paintings and watercolours. The series is now housed in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

After the war, Fisher returned to Vancouver where he began a teaching career at the Vancouver School of Art and continued his work as a muralist, graphic artist, and painter. however, it was the work he completed during and after the war years that is his most enduring.

Fisher died in July 1999 at 88 years old in Langley, B.C.

WATERFRONT by James P. Delgado, Executive Director, Vancouver Maritime Museum "The illustrated maritime story of Greater Vancouver". Published by Vancouver Maritime Museum and Stanton Atkins & Dosil Publishers 2005, ISBN 0-9732346-5-2, 

 Artwork reproduced from The Feckless Collection includes print by Fisher.

Selected Collections
Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC
The Feckless Collection, Vancouver, BC
The Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, ON