Located in Glenhyrst Gardens, a beautifully landscaped sixteen-acre park on the banks of the Grand River, the Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant offers exciting views both indoors and out. This picturesque property was bequeathed to the City of Brantford by Mr. Edmund Cockshutt in 1956.
Mr. Cockshutt was one of the sons of Ignatius Cockshutt. Although Edmund was a director and minor shareholder in the Cockshutt Plow Company, his overall involvement was much more limited than that of his father and brothers. Edmund’s interests were strongly rooted in the arts, travel, horticulture and social philanthropy (a Cockshutt family tradition). In 1914 he purchased 16 acres of land overlooking the Grand River in Brantford from the Stratford family. Edmund enjoyed sharing the beauty of his home and gardens with the public. The property was accessible to everyone to view the gardens, attend outdoor plays held on the grounds or view Edmund’s private art collection. During his life a sign on the main entrance gate read “Visitors Welcome”. It was Mr. Cockshutt’s wish that the property be developed to the benefit of Brantford residents as a place for artistic and cultural pursuits.
The indenture dated July 9, 1956 conveyed the estate known as Glenhyrst Gardens into the care of the City of Brantford. The Grantors were: C.G. Cockshutt, W.A Cockshutt, S.W. Stedman and J.M. Tutt. By-law 3816 of the City of Brantford established a commission to administer, operate and manage Glenhyrst Gardens. The original members of the commission were: Mrs. Florence Buchanan, Mrs. Norman Bell, W.A. Cockshutt, A.L. Binkley, P.Howell, W.H. Pierce and Alderman Miss Mary Wood. The Commission was empowered on February 18, 1957.
The operations are now covered in an Indenture, dated July 18, 1966, between the City of Brantford, Glenhyrst Gardens Commission and the Glenhyrst Arts Council, which provides the Arts Council with an annual lease for the use of the premises, furnishings and art collections which are under their care and supervision.
The Glenhyrst Arts Council, affiliated with the Canadian Arts Council, was given the power to carry out Mr. Cockshutt’s wish that Glenhyrst be developed and operate to the benefit of all residents of Brantford.
In the years since Edmund Lister Cockshutt bequeathed his beautiful 15 ½ acre estate to the City of Brantford, Glenhyrst Gardens, also known as the Art Gallery of Brantford, has become a well-known and popular arts centre for the citizens of Brantford and the community. Under the enterprising and capable leadership of well-known artists and administrators, many excellent programmes have been operated by those in charge. These ambitious programmes are financed primarily by membership fees, donations and special fundraising events.
Each month, a variety of exhibits, ranging from painting and prints to photographs and crafts, were displayed in the Main House at Glenhyrst. In addition, the Glenhyrst Arts Council provided lectures, seminars and demonstrations and craft sales.
Through much hard work and the dedication of the Glenhyrst Arts Council and its members, Glenhyrst Gardens has become a centre for culture and the arts for the City of Brantford.
In February 1984, along with the creation of Brantford Regional Arts Council, the Glenhyrst Arts Council became the Glenhyrst Arts Centre.
On January 30, 1986, the Glenhyrst Arts Centre of Brantford Incorporated and the Art Gallery of Brant Incorporated amalgamated into the Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant Incorporated.
The Gallery displays contemporary art exhibitions year round: complimented by classes, exhibitions, garden and arboretum tours, workshops, lectures, special events, art rental and sales, a permanent collection of over 700 pieces of historical and contemporary works, an artist rental gallery, an outdoor sculpture garden and The Golden Teapot and Gift Shop which provides high tea sittings. Programming includes tours of exhibitions, workshops, outreach to schools, children and adult classes, a children’s summer art camp and artist lectures that accompany exhibitions and special events.
Glenhyrst also operates an educational/studio facility year-round in the old Coach House and a rental gallery space for artists to hold their own exhibitions in the Gardener’s Cottage.