|Description: Oil on canvas portrait of an elderly balding man wearing glasses and ministers robes (Reverend James Magrath). The painting is framed in an ornate gesso, wood and painted frame. The painting is unsigned but dated 1840. |
History: Reverend James Magrath (1766-1851) was from a family with a long tradition of producing Irish Protestant ministers. During the Reformation, Miles Magrath left the Catholic Church to become the Archbishop of Cashel, appointed by Queen Elizabeth I. James Magrath would follow in this tradition and graduated from Trinity College, Dublin in 1790. Reverend Magrath, at the age of 58, emigrated to Upper Canada from Ireland (1827). He became the first rector of St. Peter’s Anglican Church also know as the Toronto Mission. Reverend Magrath settled on land north of Dundas Street which he named 'Erindale'. Later the village of Springfield would become Erindale named after the Magrath property. Magrath lived with his wife, Mary (she died in 1839), and his four sons and one daughter. Reverend Magrath died in 1851 at the age of 82.
More than one copy was made of this painting. It is believed that this portrait came with Mary Magrath from 'Erindale' when she married Arthur Harris in 1881. For information on Reverend James Magrath, see: Thompson Adamson “175 Years of History: St Peter's Anglican Church, Erindale” (Mississauga, St Peter's Anglican Church: 2000); Magrath Family Fonds, Region of Peel Archives.
This item was donated by Geoffrey Harris Sayers, who was born 23 April 1907 and died 25 November 1997. A retired businessman, he was the first child of Beverly and Annie Sayers (nee Harris). A member of the Canadian Armed Forces, he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant 14 June 1938. Two years later, he was appointed Lieutenant. As of 21 April 1941, he was appointed the rank of Temporary Captain, and was recommended for appointment to the Lorne Scots (P. D. and H. Regiment) based out of Brampton. According to his military file, Captain Geoffrey Sayers served with the Canadian Armed Forces from 21 April 1941 until 11 October 1945, when he was honourably discharged. From 17 June 1941 until 13 March 1945, he also served with the British Forces (he had British citizenship). He received the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp 1939-45. Geoffrey Sayers and his sisters, Dora Sayers Caro, and Barbara Sayers Larson donated Benares Historic House to the Ontario Heritage Foundation in 1969. It has operated as a museum under the City of Mississauga since 1995 and was officially transferred to Mississauga in 2000. Geoffrey Sayers and his wife Kathleen (née Colloten) occupied Benares from 1969 until 1981. During that time, they acted as care takers of the estate on behalf Ontario Heritage Foundation. They kept a small display of artifacts in the kitchen, and opened up the house once a year to the public. He also maintained the Benares financial affairs in 1932 for Naomi (Na) and Mary, who were unable to do so themselves.