Etherington, Agnes Richardson (1880-1954)

[photo of Agnes Etherington nd the house]
Inset: Agnes Etherington photo by Ashley and Crippen, Toronto

Agnes Etherington is one of the most influential figures in Queen's cultural history. She played a leading role in the establishment of the university’s fine art program in the 1930s and had even earlier purchased a collection of Inuit and Native art for Queen’s.

Agnes Etherington grew up in what is now Etherington House on the Queen’s University campus. She was part of the iconic Richardson family. Founders of one of Canada's most prominent grain-exporting firms, James Richardson & Sons, the family has been linked with the university for decades and has provided Queen's with some of its most distinguished leaders and important gifts.

As a young woman, Agnes wanted to be an artist and went to Europe to study until her parents decided that it wasn’t proper. She then channeled her interests into building the capacity for the arts at Queen’s University and in the Kingston community.

In the 1930s and '40s, she hired artists to create a Summer School for the Arts at Queen’s. She worked very closely with an artist in residence that she brought to Kingston, André Biéler. Together, they developed a plan to create an art gallery for Kingston.

Agnes's grand red-brick home on University Avenue was a gathering place for area artists and upon her death in 1954. After her passing it was discovered she had bequeathed this home, right in the centre of campus, along with considerable property, to the university on the condition that Queen's open an art centre and run it. The Agnes Etherington Art Centre has since grown into a highly respected gallery.

Agnes Etherington was also active in the suffrage movement, and her works of philanthropy in the community helped people in many ways.

See also:

[portrait of Agnes Etherington]

Etherington was connected with many important figures in Queen's history:

Etherington is buried in the Cataraqui Cemetery.