Edward Bannister was a Canadian success story who became one of New England's most popular painters of the 19th century.
Born in St. Andrews, New Brunswick in 1828 to a West Indian father and a mother native to St. Andrews but of West Indian descent, Bannister was recognized by age 10 as an artistic talent. An appropriate future was prophesied for him.
He drew caricatures of his classmates and teachers at school. After being orphaned at a young age and adopted by a local lawyer, he drew on barn doors and fences, perhaps for want of suitable materials.
He shipped out on a coaster around the age of 17, and a few years later made his way to Boston. There he worked as a hairdresser and barber, finding time in between cuts to dabble on canvas in a back room.
He eventually married his employer Christiana Carteaux, a successful business woman and Black activist. With her help he was able to start his own business as a portrait painter. He also took the time to study and practice photography to earn extra money.
The years between 1860 and 1890 were good years for Bannister. He attracted a following of wealthy and influential clientele, both White and Black. Many of Bannister's clients were from Boston and Providence, where he moved in 1869. He won a first class medal in the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876, the first Black artist to win a national award.
Bannister never returned to St. Andrews or Canada. The closest he ever came was Bar Harbor, Maine, where he would sail his yacht in order to paint and sketch.
(Information taken from : David Sullivan/ The New Brunswick READER May 25th, 1996.)