My practice is rooted in bringing to the world's attention the significant accomplishments of Canada’s visual artists that have been previously overlooked and undervalued. Whether a book, major art exhibition or website, I try to bring national and international recognition to this deserving art.

From 2001 to 2005 I furthered international recognition of Canadian artist, Maxwell Bates (1906 - 1970), O.C., through three principal projects. First, the Virtual Museum of Canada website Maxwell Bates: Artist, Architect, Writer ( For this website I selected 160 artworks by Bates from 21 international public collections, 60 examples of Bates's writings, audio clips, Mementoes highlighting his fascinating life in Calgary (1906 - 1931, 1946 - 1962), London, Germany (POW) and Victoria, and Tributes to Max. The Site also presented 30 architectural drawings including Bates's St. Mary's Cathedral in Calgary. I collaborated with the University of Calgary Press. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria has hosted this Site since 2003.

Secondly, I co-curated a major exhibition, Maxwell Bates: At The Crossroads of Expressionism for the Edmonton Art Gallery/ AGA (2004 - 2006) that included over 90 artworks by Bates from public and private collections nationally and internationally. Funded with a $134,000 Museums Assistance Program grant, this exhibition traveled to Calgary (for Alberta's Centennial Year in 2005), Saskatoon and Victoria. With written permission from the AGA and because its Bates catalogue still had not been published, Snyder Hedlin Fine Arts published my unabridged essay on Maxwell Bates as a book, Maxwell Bates: Canada's Premier Expressionist of the 20th Century in 2005. AGO's Dennis Reid commended this book as "presenting the most convincing argument for his directing role in the Canadian narrative so far. It also reads very well." In Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Saskatoon and Victoria, I gave numerous public presentations on Maxwell Bates.

There were 164 other Alberta artists about which I wanted to write. Funded, in part, by the Alberta 2005 Centennial History Society and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, I researched and wrote a book, A History of Art in Alberta 1905 - 1970 (Calgary: Bayeux Arts, 2005). This book was nominated for the Melva J. Dwyer award. Les Graff described this book as "championing two essential ingredients [Alberta's fierce independence and individuality of the foundation for Alberta's visual arts] while exploring in depth and detail the tremendously broad base of that foundation... Townshend's book will serve as a major reference for years to come and be pivotal regarding all future writings regarding the visual arts of Alberta."

I selected content for a website featuring Donald William Buchanan, his and his brother's art collection given to the Lethbridge College, his writings, his photography, his work in design and at Expo '67. Lethbridge College hosts

For my contributions to the visual and literary arts in Alberta, I was awarded a Centennial Medal (2005).

I have also taught the Survey, 19th and 20th century Modern and Canadian art history courses at Mount Royal University and ACAD for eight years, and worked in the public art gallery sector for six.  From 1982 to 1990, I was the Cultural Consultant for the Visual Arts Branch, Alberta Culture, Red Deer and south.  From 1975 to 1977, I was a Commonwealth Scholar in India based in Varanasi. I hold a MA in the History of Art from the University of Toronto (1973).

Art Inspired by the Canadian Rockies, Purcell Mountains and Selkirk Mountains 1809-2012 compared and contrasted for the first time traditional, Modern and contemporary artistic responses to the Canadian Rockies by primarily Canadian artists over the last two hundred years. My research took me to the art collections, libraries and archives in London, UK (British Library), Montreal (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the CPR Archives, McCord Museum), Ottawa (Library and Archives Canada, National Gallery of Canada), Toronto (Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto), Vancouver (Vancouver Art Gallery, the City of Vancouver Archives, UBC, Vancouver Public Library), Victoria (BC Archives, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria), Banff (the Whyte Museum) and Calgary (the Glenbow Museum), and contemporary artists' studios. Art Inspired by the Canadian Rockies, Purcell Mountains and Selkirk Mountains 1809-2012 was published by Bayeux Arts, Inc. of Calgary in November 2012.

I completed a major essay titled "Calgary Allied Arts Foundation: 20th and 21st Century Cultural Aspirations for a Loved City" which CAAF published in 2017. It is available to buy on the CAAF website:

In 2020, I became a Honorary Associate Member of the Alberta Society of Artists.