Books

  1. A History of Art in AlbertaA History of Art in Alberta 1905-1970 A History of Art in Alberta 1905 – 1970 (Calgary: Bayeux Arts, 2005) nominated for the Dwyer Award in 2006 and on Edmonton Journal's Bestsellers List.
    ISBN 1-896209-73-4 (bound); ISBN 1-896209-71-8 (pbk.)
    (Read excerpts)
  1. A History of Art in AlbertaMaxwell Bates: Canada's Premier Expressionist of the 20th Century
    His Art, Life and Prisoner of War Notebook
    Maxwell Bates: Canada's Premier Expressionist of the 20th Century, His Art, Life and Prisoner of War Notebook (Calgary: Snyder Hedlin Fine Arts Ltd., 2005) acknowledged by Art Gallery of Ontario’s Dennis Reid as "presenting the most convincing argument for his directing role in the Canadian narrative so far. It also reads very well" and evaluated by Calgary Board of Education as "highly recommended" and on Calgary Herald's Bestsellers List.
    ISBN 0-9737268-0-6
    (Read excerpt)

Both books are available for sale at bookstores across Canada.

  1. Book cover for Art Inspired by the Canadian Rockies, Purcell Mountains, and Selkirk MountainsArt Inspired by the Canadian Rockies, Purcell Mountains, and Selkirk Mountains 1809-2012 Art Inspired by the Canadian Rockies, Purcell Mountains, and Selkirk Mountains 1809-2012 (Calgary:  Bayeux Arts, 2012)

    Nancy Townshend's book on art inspired by the Canadian Rockies, Purcell Mountains, and Selkirk Mountains presents these mountains' justifiable prominence in world art. For over two centuries, Canadian artists have admired their magnitude and grandeur, their endlessly changing light and atmospheric conditions, their four distinct seasons, and myriad other aspects.

    The book is organized chronologically into three eras: traditional (1809 –1899), Modern (1900–1973) and contemporary (1974–2012). From David Thompson's watercolours in the early nineteenth century (c. 1809) of the East Kootenays to Jan Kabatoff's multimedia art of the early twenty-first century that addresses the impact of global warming on glaciers, Townshend's book presents a whole gamut of Canadian art inspired by these great mountains. Featuring three comprehensive overviews and thirteen chapters on both central and western Canadian artists, as well as a chapter on American artist John Singer Sargent, the book offers insights into their art and inspirations.

    What did two centuries of artistic exploration in the infinitely facetted Canadian Rockies, Purcells and Selkirks yield? How did the resulting works of art serve to build a unique western Canadian identity? How does the West inform Canadians about themselves, about their own place in the world at this critical time in world history?

    Townshend answers these questions in this significant reference book for decades to come. Over the past two hundred years, a shift from the exploitative view of Canada's mountain West during the traditional era to the contemporary creative genesis of this area has occurred. Because of the contemporary artists' commitment to wildlife conservation and environmental issues, the contemporary era is more outward looking and expansive, concerned about the world's future.

    Townshend's all-encompassing text and selected stunning images confirm John Ruskin's observation that mountains are "the beginning and end of all natural scenery." That Canada's mountain West is indeed a place to be revered, a place from which we can learn about ourselves now and in the future.

Art Inspired by the Canadian Rockies, Purcell Mountains and Selkirk Mountains 1809-2012 was published by Bayeux Arts, Inc. of Calgary in November 2012.

ISBN 978-1-897411-37-7
137 pgs. + 56 mostly coloured images
$24.95 available at independent bookstores, public art galleries and Chapters/Indigo nationally


"Canada's western mountain ranges - sacred places to Aboriginal people for millennia - have inspired adventurers, naturalists and artists since the first Europeans found their way into these spectacular places. This book links the places we know today with the history we should know about how artists have been inspired and transformed by them. This is a book worth exploring for what it reveals about how art and artists have shaped our relationship to these most compelling of the New World's landscapes."

- Kevin Van Tighem, author and former Superintendent of Banff National Park.


"Nancy Townshend's book is unique, worthy of being placed at the pinnacle of art history literature. To date it is the first Canadian art history book focusing on one Canadian geographical area over a span of over two hundred years ... the author expertly takes us through a fascinating journey. Her passion and knowledge of visual arts in this geographical context is inspiring .... Especially poignant are the views of contemporary artists in addressing the present and future states of our planet due to climate change .... This beautiful book gripped me so passionately that I traded a borrowed library copy for one purchased at a local bookstore. I encourage you to take a look yourself."

- Krystyna Fedosejevs, Reader's Corner, Wilderness Advocate, the Alberta Wilderness Association Journal, XXII, 3 (June/July 2014), 27.


"this comprehensive and impressively compiled book explores insights into the interpretation of the mountain landscape by artists.....Meticulously curated with full page images of diverse works of art, ACC member Townshend's text highlights her own deep appreciation of how artists have so brilliantly interpreted western Canada's mountains over the decades to reveal social and political sensibilities of the traditional, modern and contemporary eras."

- Lynn Martel, Alpine Club of Canada Gazette, vol. 29, No. 3, (Winter 2014), 22.

  1. Calgary Allied Arts Foundation: 20th and 21st Century Cultural Aspirations For a Loved City (Calgary: CAAF, 2017)