The Hamilton Spectator

Bill Biddle was known for his paintings of old houses and buildings

Hamilton native also taught at art workshops across the province

- DANIEL NOLAN CONTRIBUTO­R

If you asked artist Bill Biddle what he did for a living, he would simply say he painted houses.

“It didn’t mean he got out the roller and painted a house,” said friend Bill Warnick, former Caledonia postmaster and president of the Port Maitland on the Grand Historical Associatio­n. “He would paint a picture of a house with a fine brush.”

And the Dunnville resident did much more. He created paintings of lighthouse­s, service stations, mills, boats, classic cars, fire halls, police stations, schools, churches, landscapes and scenes of smalltown Ontario. He had a series of paintings of train stations, including Dundas, Smithville and Stoney Creek. And, on top of that, Biddle did portraits.

Warnick owns a Biddle painting he cherishes — it’s of the long gone TH&B station in Port Maitland.

Biddle — who died Dec. 8, at age 86 — has paintings hanging in homes and businesses all over the place, and has been mentioned in art articles with Frank Panabaker and Trisha Romance. He ran art workshops for decades across the province, specializi­ng in watercolou­r and acrylic techniques.

A portrait that Biddle made of Sir Frederick Haldimand, for whom Haldimand County was named, was unveiled in the new County Administra­tion Building in Cayuga in June 2022.

In 2012, a portrait he did of the late David Marshall — a respected doctor, lawyer and judge — was unveiled in the Cayuga courthouse. Marshall learned how to paint in acrylic from Biddle.

Biddle was interested in art from an early age.

“Haven’t done anything else in my life except art,” he told the Grand River Sachem in 2011. He described his style as “recognizab­le,” a realistic vein rather than abstract.

Biddle’s wife Pam said she still finds it hard to think he is gone. Students still come to the studio to paint.

“He really was a kind man,” she said. “Everyone liked him. Everyone misses him.”

His daughter Pam Price said Biddle was “a great father” and “happened to have a talent few people are lucky enough” to have.

“He was understand­ing and patient while showing his students how to be the best they could be,” she said.

On social media, artists, friends and former students said Biddle was talented and friendly. Lloyd Thomas said his family has one of his paintings that always gets compliment­ed and said his death is “a great loss to the community and the art world.”

Andrew Judd used to ride the train into Toronto from Hamilton with Biddle when he worked as an illustrato­r. “He generously shared everything he could to help me as an artist,” he said. “Bill could draw better than anyone I’ve ever met in my life.”

Biddle was born Oct. 25, 1937 in Hamilton to Horace and Hazel Biddle. He attended Westdale Secondary School. He couldn’t get into the Ontario College of Art and headed to New York City to study with the Art Students League and the American School of Design.

He was in the U.S. for four years and returned to Ontario to work for a couple of lithograph­ic firms, including the Clive Peacock Studio in Toronto. He illustrate­d 700 book covers, including Harlequin romances and calendars.

Biddle got into teaching and, ironically, taught at the Ontario College of Art for nearly three decades. He also taught at the Mississaug­a Visual Arts Centre, Oakville Art Centre and the Dundas Valley School of Art.

The former Dundas resident ran two galleries there and moved to Dunnville in 2005 and opened the Biddle Gallery on Queen Street. He sold works from there and taught painting. In 2006, he was inducted into Westdale’s Gallery of Distinctio­n for notable alumni.

Biddle opened a gallery in Cayuga in 2010, but it closed after a few years. He also taught classes in Simcoe.

Biddle is survived by his wife Pam, children Brent, Pam, Penny, Stefanie, Laura, 12 grandchild­ren and seven great-grandchild­ren. He is also survived by his siblings Lois and Cliff. He was predecease­d by his first wife.

The former Dundas resident ran two galleries there and moved to Dunnville in 2005 and opened the Biddle Gallery on Queen Street. He sold works from there and taught painting

 ?? FAMILY PHOTO ?? Artist Bill Biddle works on his portrait of Sir Frederick Haldimand in his Dunnville studio.
FAMILY PHOTO Artist Bill Biddle works on his portrait of Sir Frederick Haldimand in his Dunnville studio.

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