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Anthony Walsh

Anthony Walsh was born in Paris, France, to Irish parents in 1899 and grew up in Scotland and England. In 1917 he enlisted in the Irish Guards. He served one year in France, then worked in Germany with the army of occupation in World War I. Walsh came to Canada in 1923 and worked at many jobs, including fox farming in Kelowna.

In 1930 Walsh was offered a six-week teaching job at the Indian School at Six Mile Creek near Vernon. Although he had no background as a teacher, he took the position and ended by staying with the job for an additional year, taking summer courses in education at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and attempting to learn more about Okanagan culture. His work in Six Mile Creek led to an offer from Chief George Baptiste to take the teaching position at Inkameep Day School. Walsh accepted.

In 1942 he left Inkameep School and joined the Legion War Services. He was stationed at Port Alberni and Gordon Head to work with soldiers returning from World War II. In Port Alberni, Walsh met the BC artist George Clutesi, whose work he helped establish by mounting an exhibition of his paintings and introducing him to Ira Dilworth. From that connection, Clutesi went on to form relationships with Lawren Harris and Emily Carr. By the spring of 1946 the Legion War Services work was complete, and Walsh moved to Quadra Island for a period of rest and reassessment. He then spent a few years travelling, lived in Vernon and Abbotsford, BC, and studied for a year in Santa Fe, New Mexico, before settling in Montréal.

Anthony Walsh & class 1942

In 1952 Walsh founded Benedict Labre House, a home for destitute men in Montréal. He worked there until 1967, when ill health forced him to retire. In 1975 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Concordia University. On March 24, 1976, he returned to Oliver for a reunion with residents of Osoyoos, Oliver and surrounding areas, and especially with former students of the Inkameep Day School.

In 1990 Walsh received the Order of Canada, the highest civilian honour acknowledging the efforts of Canadian citizens who have made a profound difference to life in Canada. Anthony Walsh died in 1994 in Montréal, at the age of ninety-five.

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