Tomhu (Tomtu) Huron Roberts was one of the early pioneerartists in Canada who painted the "natural beauty" ofCanada. Dale Bertrand in 1979 inherited the sketchbooks,paintings and writings of Tomtu and his fathers completediaries and with this a more complete record of the artists lifebecame available.

Contrary to former reports of Tomhu being bornin Wales we find the records the he was born in Canada in Collingwood on the shores of LakeHuron, Tomhu was given the middle name Huron.In 1860 John, hiswife Anne, Tomhu and his two sisters traveled to Wales. Work wasscarce and after six years they returned to Canada.

They lived in Kingston for a year and then moved to Toronto.In Toronto Tomhu and his sister went to Park St. School. Hisfather worked as a tailor at Hughes and Company, and later became involved in real estate and built houses along Sherbourne and Queen St. in Toronto.In 1871 the family moved into a house at 290 Queen St. East.

In 1875 Tomhu was sent to Odell and Trout Commercial College to study art. Tomhu as admitted as a student. He spent a great sum of money for Tomhu to go to Art School. He was willing to invest in his son as he recognized his natural talent.

After his studies he apprenticed for two years with the portrait artistsat Bridgman and Forster. In 1878 Otto Jacobi ,a German artist ofnote, advised him on techniques and inspired him to paint. We see advice in his sketchbooks from Otto , who was a tenant in one of the houses they rented. There isa record of Tomhu exhibiting in Toronto at the T.I.E. Toronto Industrial Exhibition in 1879.This was the predecessor of the Canadian National Exhibition.

There are many small fascinating sketchbooks of Tomhu Huron Roberts which Tomhu used to meticulously record his ideas and thoughtson develping his work which are of great interest to historians,
andalsoeducators fascinated with the artistic process aswell as being inspiration for other artists.

Video by the Roberts Heritage Foundation