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Obituary: Frederick ‘Tex’ Dawson was an artist, architect, writer and war veteran

By on January 18, 2021 0


Dawson was well known to longtime Gazette readers as a cartoon illustrator for the All Our Yesterdays column written by Edgar Andrew Collard.

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He was a gifted architect, artist and writer, supreme athlete and musician besides.

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Frederick (Tex) Dawson seemed to excel at everything he tried. The former Montreal Gazette illustrator died of natural causes at his retirement home in Pointe-Claire on January 6. He was 96 years old.

“He was sort of a rock star everywhere he went, and he was a gentleman,” his daughter, Suzanne, said from her New Jersey home on Saturday.

An architect by training, Dawson would be well known to longtime Gazette readers as an illustrator of the designs for the All Our Yesterdays column written by Edgar Andrew Collard. He drew for this column for several years starting in the 1980s, succeeding John Collins of the Gazette.

“One of my most treasured possessions is an original Tex made for me from Royal Victoria College because he knew I was going to McGill,” said former Gazette editor Joan. Fraser. “I still have it and I treasure it, and no one is trying to take it from me.”

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Some of Dawson’s paintings were featured in a 2018 edition of the Senior Times.

Artist Tex Dawson sits in his studio.
Artist Tex Dawson sits in his studio. Photo by Gordon Ball /Montreal Gazette files

Born in Winnipeg on August 28, 1924, Dawson lived in Edmonton and Toronto before coming to Montreal with his family as a teenager. He moved to Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and attended West Hill High School. He was a high school football star and later played football for McGill.

During World War II, Dawson fought in Germany and Holland with the 7th Medium Artillery. His brother Howard was killed in action. After the war, he married his high school sweetheart Jean “Hap” Townsend and opened his architectural firm, Dawson and Szymanski.

As an architect, one of his greatest accomplishments was the design of the Notre-Dame-de-Pompei Catholic Church on Rue Sauvé Est at Boulevard Saint-Michel, erected in 1967 to serve the Italian community. of this sector. Dawson has the distinction of being the only architect to have designed two pavilions for the Expo 67 Universal Exhibition in Montreal: for Trinidad and Tobago and Mauritius.

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By closing his architectural practice in the 1990s, Dawson embarked on a new career as an artist. Fraser said he met Dawson when he came to show him some of his drawings after Collins, who had illustrated the column until then, announced his retirement.

“(Dawson) showed me a few of his drawings of places in Montreal, and they were adorable,” she said. “They were very different from Collins, who were also adorable, but Tex’s designs were very architectural and had very fine detail. You looked at them and you were there at that place. We watched them and (hired him locally to illustrate the weekly column).

Tex Dawson, right, with The Fossils in 1999: John Wilson (top), Andy Dodge (left) and Peter Palmer (bottom).
Tex Dawson, right, with The Fossils in 1999: John Wilson (top), Andy Dodge (left) and Peter Palmer (bottom). Photo by CHRISTINNE MUSCHI /Montreal Gazette files

In addition to painting, Dawson also wrote plays, most notably for a service group called The Fossils, which raised funds for children’s camps. He wrote the play and music for the annual show, which was performed at West Hill High School.

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Suzanne Dawson said her father was prolific as a painter and writer. At the retirement home where he lived, Chartwell Le Wellesley, he painted several light murals to decorate the common dining room.

In 2008, he wrote and performed in an ensemble of musical reviews at the Segal Center in Montreal and returned in 2010 with a one-man show at the age of 85. He had also recently illustrated a book on the history of Mount Royal. He wrote until his death. Suzanne said he recently asked one of the residence staff to type a play he had written and that he intended to perform at the residence.

Dawson was married to Jean for 67 years until her death in 2016.

He is survived by his daughter Suzanne, his son Bruce and his grandchildren Jérémie and Camille Garcia-Dawson. No funeral is planned at this time, but a celebration of her life will take place at a time when gatherings are permitted.

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