1866 - 1960
Rose Willis was born in Newport, near Glasgow, Scotland in 1866, and came with her parents to Montreal at
the age of four. She was educated at St. Ann’s Academy and was a teacher in Montreal.
She arrived in Victoria with her husband William Arthur Willis of Willis Piano Company in 1913, and became
a member of the Island Arts and Crafts Club, as well as the Business and Professional Women’s Club.
Willis studied under William Raphael of Montreal, Tom Tripp of Vancouver, and other well-known artists.
Widely known in Montreal and on the west coast for her works in oils and watercolours, she specialized in
flower painting in later years, and acquired the title “flower artist of Canada.”
Rose Willis was a prolific artist, and contributed to 22 annual exhibitions of the Island Arts and Craft Club
(later Society) between 1913 and 1947, and was one of the veterans of the Society, who, after its demise,
was instrumental in the formation of the Victoria Sketch Club in 1952. She was among the exhibitors at the
Victoria Sketch Club’s annual show in 1958, which took on a heritage theme in recognition of British
Columbia’s centennial year. The art critic of the Daily Colonist made special mention of this 91-year-old
artist, “whose hand is as sure and capable as that of an artist 50 years younger.” The following year, Willis
was made a life member of the Victoria Sketch Club.
Up to the age of 91 she was still teaching occasionally, and energetically painting. She made her sketches
at the scene, and her philosophy was that going over a picture too often lost its spirit.
Rose Willis died in Victoria in 1960 at the age of 93.
Past Notable Members
William Vallevand collection