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Georgine Strathy

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1931


1952 - 2000s

Georgine Strathy, Eaton's Runs Riot on Campus in Colour-mad, Dashed-with-plaid Wool Separates by Joe Collins ! (detail), 1960s. Gift of Georgine Strathy, M2017.118.34, McCord Stewart Museum

Georgine Strathy is a commercial artist, fashion illustrator, and animator who, along with Eugenie Groh, was internationally renowned for her imaginative and innovative advertisements for Montreal’s downtown Eaton’s department store from the early 1950s to the early 1970s.

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Born in Winnipeg, Strathy knew early on that she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her mother, a commercial artist and painter. The family relocated to Montreal in 1945 and, after high school, Strathy won a scholarship to study at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. Although she knew she wanted to be a fashion illustrator, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts as she found the school’s commercial art division conservative in its approach and wanted to perfect her drawing skills. A lifelong motto of Strathy’s became, “I will draw anything for money.” She graduated with honours in 1952.

She returned to Montreal after earning her degree, and when her work made an impression on Eugenie Groh, Eaton’s quickly hired her as a junior artist.

Groh became a mentor to Strathy, and the women developed a lifelong friendship.

Strathy credited Groh with exposing her to Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and the work of Czech graphic artist Alphonse Mucha, sources that left a lasting impression on her illustration style. Strathy left Eaton’s Montreal store in 1953 to follow her then-husband to Toronto, where she worked for that city’s downtown Eaton’s store, but the conservative art department did not appreciate the avant-garde illustration style she had learned from Groh; she recalled being told by her supervisor: “We don’t do what you do in Montreal here in Toronto.” After a brief time in the city, Strathy returned to Montreal.

Georgine Strathy, ‘Sound In – Sound On’, September 21, 1966. Gift of Georgine Strathy, M2017.118.57, McCord Stewart Museum

Strathy recalled how her feminism was kick-started by the institutional misogyny she encountered at Eaton’s when she twice asked for a raise; both times, she was told that her father and later her husband earned a good living, so more pay was not necessary. Feeling she would be better off working for herself, she decided to form her own company, Strathygraphe, and freelance for Eaton’s, giving her the freedom to work for multiple clients and earn more money.

Beginning in the mid-1950s and for the rest of her commercial art career, Strathy continued to work for Eaton’s alongside Groh, as well as for Iona Monahan at The Gazette, The Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun, Style, Elan, American Vogue, and the Lily Simon boutiques, where she signed her illustrations ‘Gigi.’

Max Sauer Studio Reg’d, Georgine Strathy, Montreal, about 1955. Gift of Georgine Strathy, M2017.118.2.12, McCord Stewart Museum

With Claire McLean, Strathy opened one of Montreal’s first health food stores/restaurants, Cuckoo, on Bishop Street in 1970. In the 1980s, she was Art Director for McGill University Records, and began experimenting with computerized illustration.

With her talent for drawing, Strathy pivoted towards animation in the late 1990s, after studying with both Art Babbitt of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Academy Award-winning Canadian animator Richard Williams in California. She worked for studios in Los Angeles and London and animated her own short films: Children Speak (1997) with co-director Bozenna Heczko, Sea and Stars (2002) with co-director Anna Tchernakova, and Come Again in Spring (2007).

Strathy left Montreal for Canmore, Alberta, in 2018 where she continues to make art for pleasure as a member of the Canmore Art Guild.


Katherine Bosnitch. “A Little on the Wild Side: Eaton’s Prestige Fashion Advertising Published in the Montreal Gazette, 1952-1972,” in Fashion: A Canadian Perspective, edited by Alexandra Palmer, 339-363. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.

“Facts and Fancies: Accent on Nature,” The Gazette, April 21, 1970, I8.

Daniel Lancashire, “Montreal: the chic is still there, but the business is sagging,” The Gazette, June 20, 1977, 1.

“Animated Attire: Women in Fashion, Spring 1985,” The Gazette, March 9, 1985, I22.

Interview with Georgine Strathy by author. Recorded phone conversation, June 2018.

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