Painted Friezes and Ceilings

Region of Waterloo Museums staff have uncovered additional wall paintings (century old hidden murals) at McDougall Cottage dating back over 100 years.

The most intriguing architectural feature of McDougall Cottage is its trompe l’oeil (French – to deceive, or trick the eye) ceiling friezes, painted circa 1906-1907 by Jack Baird, brother of the Cottage’s second owner James Baird. This type of hand-painted room decoration was most frequently encountered in the homes of well-to-do families, but in this instance may have been a creative solution in place of wallpaper, which was more expensive than paint and canvas at the time.

Painted rooms were frequently the common man's answer to expensive wallpaper, undertaken by local amateurs or itinerant artists in imitation of much coveted French scenic wallpapers of the day. Such beautifully painted scenes could range from the familiar to the exotic. The hand-painted frieze and trompe l'oeil ceiling painting landscapes in McDougall Cottage were painted by John “Jack” Baird (1862-1922), brother of Cottage owner James Baird. Jack was a photographer, painter and true-life adventurer.