RTC-26: 1961 Yosef Drenters

Original Music Score for CBC Television Documentary

Arranged: Four Fragments for Brass Quintet [RTC-27]

Yosef Gertrudis Drenters 1930–1986

The sudden death of Yosef Gertrudis Drenters in the winter of 1983 brought to an early close the most distinguished career of a major Canadian sculptor, artist and preservationist.

Yosef Drenters was born in 1930 in The Netherlands, where his youth was spent in classical studies preparing for the priesthood. At the age of 14 he began to take drawing instructions from a local artist, Willem van Ejendhoven. Yosef was also influenced by his father, a skilled blacksmith, who was adept at making small works in forged iron.

In 1951 after giving up his monastic life, he came to Canada with his family, who first settled in British Columbia. His first years in Canada were spent working variously as a lumberjack, a rancher, a miner and a farmer. In 1954 the family moved to Ontario and purchased a large farm on Highway 24 north of Guelph, where in 1958 Yosef began experimenting in sculpture after several years of painting.

His first solo exhibition was organized by Florence Partridge, Chief Librarian of Massey Library, Ontario Agricultural College. In 1960 his work was exhibited in Toronto at Dorothy Cameron’s Here and Now gallery, and he was heralded by critics and collectors as a major Canadian sculptor. He received a Canada Council grant in 1961, was the subject of a CBC documentary film, and was accepted as a member of the Ontario Society of Artists.

The Canadian Department of Trade and Commerce commissioned him to create a sculpture for the Tokyo Trade Fair in 1965. His Pioneer Family won the competition for sculpture for the Ontario Pavilion Expo 67, and he was commissioned as well to create a giant toy horse for La Ronde.

In 1960, Drenters purchased the old Rockwood Academy, a school for boys in Rockwood, Ontario. He spent many years working on the restoration of the old stone building, as well as continuing his career as a sculptor.

In 1974, Drenters was made a member of the Royal Canadian Academy.