Frederick Horsman Varley

Frederick Horsman Varley, probably at the Vancouver School of Decorative & Applied Arts

Frederick Horsman Varley (1881-1969) was born in Sheffield, England. After studying painting in Belgium, he immigrated to Canada in 1912. He settled in Toronto where he worked as a commercial illustrator. It was there that he met the future members of the famous Group of Seven and began painting landscapes in Algonquin Park. In 1918 the Canadian government engaged him as a war artist. He travelled to England and then to France and Belgium where he produced many paintings depicting grim scenes from the Western Front. Some of his best known war paintings are For What?, Gas Chamber at Seaford and German Prisoners on the Western Front. Although Varley had been enthusiastic about working as a war artist, he became deeply disturbed by what he saw and his work reflected this. He returned to Canada at the end of the war, and in 1920 became one of the founding members of the Group of Seven. Another member of the group, A.Y. Jackson, also served as an artist in the Great War.

Service Record Details

Attestation Paper

Date of Birth: January 2, 1881 (Sheffield, England)

Date of Attestation: February 7, 1918

Age at Enlistment: 37 years

Height: 5 feet, 8 inches

Weight: 134 pounds

Description: Grey eyes.Church of England.

Home Address: Thornhill, Ontario

Trade: Artist

Married: Yes

Details of Family: Wife, Maud Varley, living in Thornhill, Ontario.

Next of Kin: Wife (Maud Varley)

Branch of Service: Canadian Expeditionary Force (Canadian War Records)

Theatre of War: England, France

Interesting Details from the Service Record

  • Undated – Varley has one daughter, Dorothy (7), and two sons, John (5) and Jim (1).  (Page 24)
  • March to April 1918 – He leaves for overseas from Halifax on March 25, 1918, and arrives in Glasgow on April 3. (Page 36)
  • February 7, 1918 – He is not attached to any unit because his role is to paint war pictures. (Page 36)
  • February 26, 1918 – His father, Samuel Varley, is living in Bournemouth, England. His mother is deceased. (Page 25)
  • August 1, 1919 – He sails back to Canada from Liverpool. (Page 42)
  • March 21, 1920 – He is struck off strength due to general demobilization. (Page 33)

The London Gazette

No records found

Military Medals, Honours and Awards

No records found

Census Records

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