Bert Weir was born in Sandwich, Ontario in 1925. Upon being discharged from the Canadian Navy in 1945 he worked in the bush in a lumber camp in Algonquin Park before attending the Ontario College of Art, on a Department of Veteran’s Affairs program majoring in sculpture. His instructors included Emanuel Hahn and Jock Macdonald. He married fellow art student Elena Zebrauskaite.
In 1952 the couple moved to McKellar, Ontario where they set up the McKellar Lodge Summer Studio. The Studio was run as an art school where artists from Toronto and New York, such as Gershon Iskowitz and Bob Cowan, taught while producing their own studio work.
In 1957 with a growing family, Bert and Elena moved to Windsor, Ontario where he maintained a studio and taught art at the W.D. Lowe Technical School, becoming lifelong friends with fellow teacher Bob Monks. Between 1965-68 Bert and Elena taught a Ford Foundation educational prep program, the ‘Summer Studies Skills Program’, at Knoxville College, Knoxville, Tennessee. In the 1970’s Bert became the designer for the Media Centre at the University of Windsor.
In 1974 Bert and Elena purchased a former church/factory in Parry Sound, Ontario and established Loon Studios. Bert was always an active community member. He joined the Rotary Club, taught numerous ‘Artist in the School’ Programs, taught extension courses for Georgian College, the Ontario College of Art and programs organized by the Department of Tourism and Culture in North Bay. He was a founding member of the Parry Sound Arts Association, starting the, still active, Art in the Park festival. The doors to Loon Studio were always open to the public as well as a meeting place for poets and painters. This community involvement was in conjunction with Bert’s extensive studio practice and exhibition schedule.
Weir set out to learn everything he could about the Northern Ontario wilderness in a quest to understand the force that drew him so powerfully to that place. Working directly from the source, whether snowshoeing through a snowstorm, sailing Georgian Bay or in the studio with a model, his aim was to feel the essence of that energy he found so important and to describe that experience as colour and form.
Bert Weir’s work became highly collected. He received both Canada Council A & B Grants and exhibited at Gallery One, Toronto. Major collections of his work may be found at the Desmarais Library, Laurentian University, Sudbury and the WKP Kennedy Gallery, North Bay.
Elena Zebrauskaite died in 1995. In 2002 Bert Weir married Joy Allan and they moved Loon Studios to McKellar. Always an environmentalist, he spent his last years documenting and celebrating the fields that surrounded his studio. Once farmed, he left them to regenerate, returning to wilderness. It was his way of giving back to the environment that so sustained him throughout his life.
Bert Weir died in 2018. The Laurentian University Archives, Sudbury is maintaining a fond of his personal writings.