In 1963 the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC) was opened in Toronto to promote Japanese culture in Canada. The first sumi-e classes were taught by Ruth Yamada who also developed many of the instructional paintings. These paintings are still in use today. Ruth Yamada continued to teach at the JCCC for another two decades.
A group of artists in 1980 formed a Canadian chapter of the Sumi-e Society of America. 1982 marked the first year of the annual fall exhibition. By 1984 the chapter had grown to 100 members. The chapter evolved into the Sumi-e Artists of Canada, an independent non-profit organization located in Toronto. The new organization, however, continued to retain an association with the Sumi-e Society of America.
In 1996 a joint international sumi-e exhibition was staged, featuring the Sumi-e Artists of Canada and the Sumi-e Society of America. Another joint international exhibition took place in 2000 when the Japan-China Sumi-e Exchange Association and Sumi-e Artists of Canada exhibited more than 200 paintings.
Ruth Yamada Award for Excellence in Sumi-e
The tireless efforts of Ruth Yamada led to the classes, workshops, and exhibitions of today. In recognition of her dedication, the Ruth Yamada Award for Excellence in Sumi-e, created by Sam Yamada, is given each year to the artist whose work is judged the Best of Show at the annual fall exhibition.
Ruth Yamada, Betty-June Bilkey, an early president, and Marjorie Pigott, one of Ruth Yamada's instructors, are shown left-to-right in this historic photo.