The folk art watercolor paintings of artist Irene (née Wheeler) McCaughtery explored every facet of southern Alberta’s pioneer life. They are a glimpse into the past that tell a story. A story of the culture of the people, their dress, their activities and life in southern Alberta. Her paintings depicted that life and her stories told.
McCaughtery, was born in Hardieville in 1914 where her father was a teamster for the No.6 Mine. He later bought property located east of the old Woolco store site and the family took up residence there. Irene along with her brothers Vincent and George walked two miles to the closest school for their education at Fleetwood School. It was there in Grade 3 that Irene received a certificate for a landscape she painted which was later exhibited in the Lethbridge Fair. Irene moved to Fort MacLeod after her marriage to David McCaughtery in 1934 and she lived on a ranch for most of her life. Unable to help with ranch chores because of ill health, she spent many hours writing and painting.
The Alberta Society of Artists named her an honorary member in 1994. The following year, an honorary degree was bestowed upon her from the University of Lethbridge.
There are several Irene McCaughtery paintings in the Galt Museum. Two depicting winter scenes have been chosen for a new photo and artifact display in the Archives Reference Room on the lower floor of the Galt Museum. ”The Skating Party” painted in 1977 tells of youngsters meeting at a frozen pond for a day’s skating. “Winter Visitors” painted in 1993 tells of visitors bundled in coats and hats with a warm blanket as they drive their horse-drawn buggy to visit neighbors.