Ruth Upjohn and Dorothy (Dot) Seixas are synonymous with the arts in Muskoka. With great enthusiasm, sincerity and devotion, Ruth and Dot have promoted the arts and artists of Muskoka. Cottagers since 1934, this dynamic duo have seen each and every Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour and Summer Show. From 1967 until 1992, they organized an art show at Branksome Hall in Toronto. Over the years, eighteen Muskoka artists participated in this show. They continued to organize shows for Muskoka artists at the Women’s Art Association which was formed in the 1890s to give women a place to experience the arts.
Ruth was introduced to the arts as a child when members of the Group of Seven, whose studio was located behind her childhood Toronto home, would come for dinner. She recalled a time when her mother found it difficult to entice buyers to purchase their $25 paintings. Seeing the struggle artists faced galvanized Ruth to a life-long patronage of the arts.
For forty-five years, Ruth taught kindergarten at Branksome Hall. Dot taught music to the kindergarten class. In the mid 1990s, Ruth and Dot collaborated on a book of kindergarten songs of the 19th and early 20th century. Over 400 copies of the book sold with the proceeds going to a bursary fund for students at the school.
Of their support of Muskoka art, Ruth remarked: “It does me good to help the artists by talking about their work to others. Word of mouth is a powerful promotional tool.”
Dot died on July 6, 2005. Ruth died on February 4, 2006.