If you have a loved one who has passed and was involved in the arts, we would be happy to add them to our Pioneers page. Please send an email with a description and photo to


The Iroquois Falls Arts Council wishes to honour our local artists who are no longer with us. They are missed.

Verna Turner holding her watercolour painting titled, Old Iroquois Hotel in Winter. Photo taken in 2013. This painting is owned by Dr. Erin Thomson and hangs in her office.

Verna Turner

October 20, 1931 - June 9, 2017

Verna Turner was a well-loved, much-respected artist from Iroquois Falls. When Verna died in 2017, journalist Xavier Kataquapit, who had been good friends with Verna for twenty years, wrote a touching tribute that was published in The Timmins Daily Press. Here is an excerpt, used with Xavier's permission.

“Verna, or Mere, as everyone referred to her as, passed away recently and with her passing a little bit of Iroquois Falls died too. Verna was the town's biggest cheerleader and more or less documented the people, land and buildings of the Falls over many decades in art work that hangs in homes throughout the north. I was very fragile, a bit lost and confused by life outside my remote First Nation of Attawapiskat when I arrived in Iroquois Falls and Verna was one of those people who went out of her way to make me feel at home and welcome. She truly loved everyone and did not see people in terms of colour or race but realized the spirit in all she met. Her words of encouragement and her kindness made a difference in my life.”

Residents of Iroquois Falls cherish the memory of Verna Turner, and those of us who are lucky enough to own one of her paintings, are able to look at it and smile as they remember this special person.

Kim Marshall stands next to her favourite painting made by her grandmother, Mabel Smith. The painting has a place of honour above the mantle in Kim's living room.

Mabel Smith


Mabel took up painting later in life, after raising her family. She and her husband Ronald Smith had three children, Jean, Carl and Mary Lou. Mary Lou Barry was Kim Marshall's mother. Ron Smith owned the R.W.H. Smith Funeral Home, the first funeral home in Iroquois Falls.

Mabel mostly painted landscapes. Her preferred medium was oils. She loved pretty scenery and worked from postcards and calendar pictures. She would never sell her paintings, preferring to give them away as gifts for weddings and anniversaries. She painted well into her 80's.

Besides painting, Mabel loved to read and was a faithful patron of the town library. She wrote poetry. Mabel was also a passionate bridge player.

According to Kim, Mabel was a well-respected member of the small community of Iroquois Falls. She had strong opinions and was not afraid to speak her mind and people loved her for that.

Kathleen and her husband Hubert had two children, Alan and Diane. Jill Towsley is Alan's daughter. Jill's daughter Brynn Towsley Pepin is shown holding her great-grandmother Kathleen's painting, titled Memories. It shows an inviting trail in the bush near Nellie Lake.

Kathleen Towsley


Kathleen Towsley loved to paint the beautiful flowers that surrounded her home, located at the bottom of Devonshire Avenue in Iroquois Falls. She also enjoyed painting local scenes such as the trestle bridge and the area around Big Nellie Lake. Kathleen painted in oils, watercolours, ink and pastels. She was very prolific, painting into her 90's, leaving a legacy of cherished paintings for family and friends.

Kathleen was a dedicated member of the former Iroquois Falls Art Club and the Northern Ontario Art Association. In 1983, the local art club hosted the annual NOAA juried exhibition. It was held at the upstairs hall of the Aquatic Complex. An old clipping from the local newspaper The Enterprise shows Kathleen and fellow artist Rolly Brophy admiring one of Kathleen's landscapes that had been selected for the prestigious NOAA exhibition. That same year, Kathleen also had a solo show. It was held at the Timmins Museum and Exhibition Centre, at its former location in South Porcupine. The exhibit was titled, “Flowers, Trees and Things”. In 1996, Kathleen had a solo exhibit at the former Emma Ciotti gallery in Iroquois Falls.

The current art club, Ansonville Arts Club, hopes to carry on the work of the original art club. They plan on inviting professional artists to give workshops for adults and children. This is something that Kathleen felt was important. After participating in a workshop led by Clem Berini of Timmins, held in the basement of Trinity United Church, Kathleen stated, “This type of thing gets people painting. And we really need something locally for the children too.”

Kathleen Towsley was a creative person with boundless energy. Her work still proudly hangs in many homes. In the words of fellow artist Verna Turner, “Kath enriched our lives with her art, her enthusiasm, her encouragement and her wisdom. Thank you, Kathleen.”

Anne's favourite painting made by her mother, painted in 1971.

Ruth Dorey

December 19, 1918 - March 26, 1985

The walls of Anson General Hospital in Iroquois Falls showcase the artwork of several local artists. One of those artists is Ruth Dorey. Ruth is the mother of Iroquois Falls resident, Anne Hannah. "My mother was serious about her art. She very much respected Timmins artist Clem Berini after having taken several workshops with him. Mom decided that she would never sell a painting until it had been critiqued by her mentor", says Anne.

Ruth taught at Northern College in the fine arts program. She herself was self-taught. She only painted with oil, often using a palette knife instead of a paint brush. Ruth painted landscapes, buildings and abstracts. She sometimes didn't bother with a canvas and painted directly onto her walls.

Ruth was a member of the Iroquois Falls Art Club and the Northern Ontario Art Association. For several summers, she participated in the Cobalt Artist Colony.

Ruth would use photographs as a reference to inspire her art. Anne's favourite painting made by her mother is a rainy fall scene, with a wet street and a lamppost in the foreground. "It makes me think of Circle Place in Iroquois Falls. Mom changed the steeple in the background to make it look like the steeple of the Ste. Anne's church."