Eleanor Douglas was a Canadian painter, potter and author. She was known as the “painter of trees”, painting primarily landscapes and woodland scenes. She was born May 24, 1872 in Ontario, and grew up on the Ojibway Indian Saugeen Reservation, near Southampton. Her grandfather maintained a store and post office on the reservation, and Douglas adopted many of the Natives’ customs and practices, as well as some of the language. Douglas was the second cousin of painter Carl Ahrens, and the two were taken into the Ojibway tribe in 1896.
Between 1894 and 1900 Douglas also exhibited her oil paintings in annual group shows with the Ontario Society of Artists.
In 1900 Douglas, along with Ahrens and his family, moved to East Aurora to join Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft campus. Together, they developed the Roycroft Pottery program as part of the arts and crafts community. The project, however, was short lived as the pottery was sold unglazed. A few of the pottery pieces Douglas produced were exhibited along with her paintings in a 1902 exhibition. None of the pieces Douglas and Ahrens created under the Roycroft seemed to have survived.
Despite the ending of the project, Douglas remained in the Roycroft community. In 1901, she purchased an abandoned schoolhouse on 61 Hamburg St., near the campus in present day East Aurora, and named it the School House Studio. She welcomed friends, patrons and fellow artists to her studio. She maintained her home and gardens, and welcomed visits from many notable artists from the time. She was sometimes called the “Lover of the Woods”, and would go on hiking and biking adventures, oftentimes taking her painting equipment to capture the landscapes she witnessed.
Douglas began exhibiting regularly with the Buffalo Society of Artists, and was featured in their annual spring exhibition four different years (1902, 1903, 1906 and 1907). She went on to become a member of Buffalo Society of Artists, and co-organized the East Aurora Paint and Varnish Club, which was created by fellow Roycroft artist Alexis Jean Fournier in 1904.
She continued to exhibit her works regularly, and was featured in the Albright Art Gallery, and the Macbeth Galleries in New York City. In the fall of 1914, Douglas closed the School House Studio to spend the winter with her mother in Chicago.
On November 14, 1914 Douglas died suddenly of heart failure at her mother’s home. The Albright Art Gallery held a retrospective memorial exhibition for Douglas along with the Buffalo Society of Artists in April 1915.