VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium
THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE MR WILLIAM McGILLIVRAY RAIT, WINNIPEG, CANADA
WILLIAM McGILLIVRAY RAIT
In the early 1900s, Winnipeg became the centre of a thriving and expanding trade in grain as many entrepreneurs from Scotland, eastern Canada and the United States found they could contribute their creativity and enterprising spirit to this rapidly growing city. By 1901, Winnipeg had 19 millionaires, two less than Toronto, and by 1913 it had grown to become the third largest city in Canada.
One of the many talented individuals drawn to Winnipeg at this time was William McGillivray Rait. A canny and ambitious Scot, he arrived in Winnipeg in 1910. Although he had no prior experience in the grain business, he joined James Richardson & Sons, a well established firm in the grain industry since 1857. Rait became James Richardson's private secretary in Winnipeg, and in 1922 Richardson asked his secretary if he would like to assume the position of general manager of a Richardson subsidiary, the Pioneer Grain Company. By 1938, Rait had become president of Pioneer and the phenomenal growth and success of this company is a direct result of Rait's management.
After 42 years with the company, and 26 as president of Pioneer, he became chairman of the board in 1964 and honorary chairman in 1969. He played a strong leadership role in the grain industry in the 1920s and 1930s and was a member of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange for nearly 50 years. Within the community, he was a founding director of the Manitoba Heart Foundation, and served for many years on the Board of Governors of the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Many of the individuals who founded grain companies became the elite of Winnipeg and lived in luxurious mansions along Winnipeg's exclusive Wellington Crescent and surrounding streets. They enjoyed the accoutrements of fine living, and their homes were filled with many British and European paintings and decorative arts such as collections of porcelain and silver, much of which was acquired in London and Europe. William McGillivray Rait was no exception and purchased many of his impressive collection of Scottish paintings from sources in London during the 1950s and 1960s. Many of the paintings being sold from the collection were acquired through the Fine Art Society in London; Blustery Weather (lot 124), Carnoustie Bay (lot 125) and Country Lane (lot 126) by William McTaggart, Burmese Hairdresser by Edward Atkinson Hornel (lot 128) and In a Segovian Street (lot 141) by Sir William Russell Flint are just a few of the fine paintings bought there in the 1960s.
Upon his death in 1973 at the age of 82, the Winnipeg Free Press described him as a pioneer figure in the grain trade of western Canada with 'a shrewd mind and keen business sense'. He applied that shrewdness to his purchase of paintings and he would no doubt be interested to see how the market for Scottish Paintings has developed over the last fifty years.