De Cosmos History

In 1966 Jean Vowel and Agnes Doolittle, two local artists, met frequently in an attic studio to share ideas and inspiration. They invited others to join them and by 1967 there were 17 in the group. They held monthly meetings in each others’ homes until a more formal meeting place was acquired, this being in the kitchen of the Parksville Community Hall. An executive was created, with June Moillet as the first president. Bylaws were drawn up.

Local artists gave art instruction and demonstrations to the club members. Occasionally the monthly meetings were held at June Moillet’s home and June’s other artist friends were invited. Some of these had ties with the Victoria Art Gallery and through them artists from Victoria also gave talks to the group.

Undoubtedly one of the most exciting events in those early years was a showing of works by the Group of Seven. The show was held at the Qualicum Beach Recreation Centre. Displays of local high school art students’ work and DeCosmos artists’ work were held in side rooms at the same time.

By the late 1970?s regular meetings were held on the third Thursday of each month in the Emily Carr room of the Parksville Arts Council. Over the years, and for various reasons, meetings have been held in different locations including The Old School House in Qualicum Beach and The Rogues Gallery in Parksville.

History for Time Capsule – read the hand written history of DeCosmos, dated May 5th, 1992, found buried in a time capsule in the floor of the Community Hall in Qualicum.

Our current meeting place is the MacMillan Art Centre / Oceanside Community Arts Council Galleries, Studio B at 133 MacMillan St., Parksville.

History of the Name “DeCosmos Fine Arts Society”

It is thought that the Society was named for Mt DeCosmos, which is located in the Nanaimo area. The mountain itself is named for a British Columbia politician Amor De Cosmos (1825-1897). The self-named Amor was a colourful and eccentric character who attended university in Nova Scotia then joined the California Gold Rush. After various entrepreneurial ventures he returned to Canada and settled in Victoria on Vancouver Island. He founded a newspaper, The Daily British Colonist, which survives today in its current incarnation as the Victoria Times-Colonist.

Amor’s birth name was Smith but he changed it to Amor De Cosmos which he inaccurately translated as “Lover of the Universe”. This name change was to pay tribute he said, “to what I love most…love of order, beauty, the world, the universal.”