Bancroft Studio Tour


When I was in grade one at Birds Creek P.S. I drew the image of a squirrel in his underground nest—complete with rocks and roots showing and the tree above. Primary classes teacher, Mrs. Grant had me stand up at the front of the class holding my drawing in front of me and with a big smile on her face, extolled the virtues of the skills I was displaying. Then took me around to the other 3 classes and repeated her rave review of my work of art. Well, was I going to become an artist?!

When my family moved from Birds Creek to the vintage schoolhouse in the Maxwell Settlement in June of that year, I recall climbing out of the 1951 Ford at the front of the building and observing the beautiful long views of the fields and hills and the lake right there in front of our new home—taking in the warm, scented and humid air. And I can still feel the thrill of that spectacle; and am aware now of how the vibe of the place became—and still is—my life muse.

I completed public school at L’Amable P.S. and then graduated grade 13 at NHHS in 1967. And, in spite of having no high school art training at all, managed to get accepted at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto (now OCADU)—completely based on my innate drawing skills. And graduated the four-year course in Communications and Design—the advertising-related training that also included life drawing, painting and photography. And worked for 35 years in the advertising industry but always maintaining a side career in fine art and photography.

Over the decades, I involved myself in fine art activities in the GTA, Durham Region and the Bancroft area, showing my work in more than 50 solo shows and joining and curating/organizing more than 150 exhibitions over the past 50 years—and winning 26 awards in juried shows. I‘ve written over 250 artist profiles over the decades, having them published, along with photos I took of them, in various media outlets in The GTA and Durham Region. I trained as a psychotherapist in the early 2000s and after moving on from advertising employment, practiced psychotherapy and added teaching art to students from 5 years old to folks in their 80s for the City of Pickering Recreation. I have also written and published numerous books including ‘See Change’ (poetry), ‘Retreat at Worst Horse’, the story of a mediation retreat; and my most recent: my auto biography, titled, ‘My Life, etc.’.

My paintings are primarily done in a high realist style using, principally, my own photography as reference—with some explorations of the abstract. I also shoot photographs and exhibit them on their own fine art merits. Over the decades of my career, I have put together shows on specific themes, with titles like: ‘The Joy of Falling’, ‘Family Reunion’, ‘Moments of Awakening’, ‘Lush Gravitas’ and ‘Magical-Mystical-Mythical’—showing them at galleries all over Ontario, with my most recent show being ‘Living My Muse’ at the Art Gallery of Bancroft in 2023.

I was the caretaker of the family schoolhouse home from 1996 on—inheriting it in 2010 and in 2022 moved here permanently. I joined the Studio Tour in 2023; and this spring agreed to be chairperson/co-ordinator. My studio location is 686 Maxwell Settlement Road, Bancroft and you may find me at or send me an email at

(Profile writing and photo by Allan O’Marra)