A Brief Biography of Lewis Parker
Lewis Edgar Hyde Parker was born in Toronto in
1926, the eldest of 4 children. From an early age, he
showed both a remarkable ability to draw and a high
degree of self-direction in creating and completing
drawing projects. By the age of 12, Lewis had
amassed dozens of sketch books filled with people
and storybook characters.
In 1939, Lewis enrolled in Toronto's Central Technical
School. He then worked for 2 years as an apprentice
illustrator for Toronto's Rabjohn Illustrators.
At age 18, Parker enlisted in the Canadian Army to
serve in World War II, remaining overseas with the
occupying army. He served as illustrator for the Maple
Leaf, Canada's overseas newspaper.
Returning to Toronto in 1946, he formed a
commercial art firm with Gord Laws and Bill Sherman
called Sherman, Laws and Parker, a business
focusing on visual arts in advertising. During this 10
year partnership, Parker developed a keen interest in
past cultures. In 1950, Lewis Parker married Eleanor
Derry, and they had 4 children, Craig, Christine,
Leslie and Matthew.
While Lewis' interest in historical themes deepened,
there was as yet no market in Canada for historical
art. He began free-lancing, channelling his energies
into editorial cartoons for the Toronto Star, Globe and
Mail, the Telegram, and Macleans and Chatelaine
Once established in key venues of the Toronto art
scene, Parker increasingly took work of an historic
nature. In 1966, he was awarded 2 Canada Council
Grants to paint the vanishing Mayan and Aztec
cultures. He moved to Mexico for a year with his wife
Eleanor and their 4 children, completing several
In 1968, Parker travelled with photographer Eugene
Aliman to western Canada to paint the Plains Indians.
The Huronia Council in Ontario then commissioned
Lewis to devise historical paintings for Sainte-Marie-
Among-the-Hurons. This inspired a collaboration with
acclaimed painter Gerald Lazare to create the Huron
Collection, 36 paintings depicting the life and culture
of Canada's Huron Indians. This Collection can be
viewed in the 'Selected Artwork' section of this site.
The National Film Board of Canada then sought
Parker, in partnership with Lazare, for filmwork
involving both the Beluga Whale and Plains Indians.
Lazare and Parker joined forces again in 1972 to
render a massive project for Ottawa's Museum of
Man, representing the history of mankind inside 3
domes within the Museum, each measuring 16 by 75
Built on his now well-established reputation as an
historical artist, Lewis continued adding substantially
to the Canadian historic art scene. Projects included
several murals of Maritme history for Parks Canada,
stamps for Canada Post, and a memorial coin for the
Canadian Mint. He illustrated innumerable books and
educational texts, magazines, pictoral dictionaries
and encyclopedias, and created several artworks for
TVO. Parker also taught illustration at Humber
Lewis' final venture into historical art was a film project
for the Cinera Series, depicting key figures in the
revolutionary war. Researched with his daughter
Leslie, this project was completed in 2003.
Living at the family cottage with his wife Eleanor,
Lewis spent his final artistic years creating numerous
watercolor and mixed media paintings. Lewis
continued to sketch and paint into his late 70's.