‘It was just so natural to her’: Helen Granger Young remembered for her art around the world

One of Manitoba’s most prolific artists is being remembered for her contributions here and around the world.

Helen Granger Young died on April 7 at the age of 100.

Granger Young was born in Mimico, Ont. in 1922, but lived in Winnipeg from 1947 onward. She and her husband Bill had four kids together.

“Her roots were here, all of her siblings continued to live east, but she spent her entire life here with her family,” Debra Jonasson-Young, her daughter-in-law, told CTV News. “She revelled in her whole family being around her.”

As a teenager, Young won a scholarship to the Ontario Art College, and studied under Canadian artists Charles Comfort and Franklin Carmichael – who was one of the infamous “Group of Seven.”

Early in her career, Young worked as a commercial artist illustrating for Eaton’s and The Bay catalogues. She also created technical drawings, including some for the Avro Arrow.

Jonasson-Young describes her late mother-in-law as a natural artist who excelled in several different mediums.

“I often tell the story about going to visit her and she was watching a soap opera,” Jonasson-Young explained. “And she’d have a piece of clay and by the time she was finished, there was John Diefenbaker. It was just so natural to her.”

Granger Young’s work using bronze and porcelain propelled her into the spotlight and international acclaim.

“When you look at her artwork and you could just stare at it for hours because of the detail and the colour,” Jonasson-Young said.

In Winnipeg, her bronze monuments are on display at several landmarks. Her work includes Nellie McClung on the Manitoba Legislative grounds, along with ‘First Flight’ and the Tri-Service monuments in and around Memorial Park.

Some of her other work, specifically porcelain and ceramic figurines, appear in locations around the globe including the White House, Vatican, Kremlin, and Rideau Hall.

“She had the opportunity to present to the Queen, to a number of dignitaries around the world,” Jonasson-Young said.

She earned accolades throughout her career, which included receiving the Order of Manitoba in 2013.

Granger Young’s family will remember her as a modest, yet feisty woman.

“She was very fortunate to be married to my father-in-law, who was a wonderful man, and he was her rock. And he really helped her negotiate throughout that because at the heart of it, she’s an artist. It’s about the work, it’s about creation,” Jonasson-Young said.

Granger Young’s family have countless pieces on display throughout their own homes, and look to keep her legacy intact for generations to come.

“We’ll be able to talk to our great-grandchildren and say, your grandma did that.”

– With files from CTV News’ Dan Vadeboncoeur

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