Catharine Whyte

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Catharine Whyte (Robb)

Birthdate: (72)
Birthplace: Concord, MA, USA
Death: March 7, 1979 (72)
Calgary, AB, Canada
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Russell Robb, I and Edith Owen Robb
Wife of Peter Whyte
Sister of Russell Robb, II; Frederick Morse Robb; Edward Morse Robb and Walter Robb

Managed by: Gilbert M. "Gibbs" Roddy II
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Catharine Whyte

Catharine Robb (1906-1979) was a painter, born June 13, 1906 in Concord, Massachusetts, and raised in an affluent household. Her father, Russell Robb, studied engineering at MIT and quickly became senior vice-president and treasurer of a successful engineering firm. Her mother, Edith Morse Robb, ran a successful embroidery design company. (Source for some of this [2009] info:

During summer vacations in Seal Harbor, Maine, Catharine (sometimes spelled Catherine) dated John D. Rockefeller III (1906 - 1978) for a time. In December 1924, Catharine made her social debut at Boston's Hotel Somerset. But New England's high society did not interest her. Inspired by her mother's artistic interests, Catharine began her art education at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 1925.

Catharine Robb married Peter Whyte (1905-1966).

Catharine and Peter Whyte founded the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, Alberta, built after 1968, In 1968, with Peter and Catharine Whyte's collection forming its centerpiece. Catharine remained actively involved with the museum for the rest of her life. After Catharine’s death, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies was named in their honor and expanded to include two heritage homes, including the Whyte home, and four log cabins.

Today, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies occupies a 4-acre (16,000 m2) site by the Bow River, and is one of the most important museums dedicated to the art and culture of the Rocky Mountains.

Box 160, 111 Bear St., Banff, AB T1L 1A3. Telephone: 403-762-2291 / 300 (General). Fax: (403) 762-8919. Email: Archives & Library: T: (403) 762-2291 / 335. Email:

It has (2009) the following to say about Catharine and Peter Whyte:

"Catharine Whyte was born June 1906 in Concord, Massachusetts. Although she grew up in a very comfortable home she was expected to knit, mend and practice the crafts her mother had made a career in designing and selling. Catharine's mother, Edith Morse Robb, provided the strong artistic influence that led her to begin her art education at the Boston Museum School of Fine Art in 1925.

"Catharine Robb and Peter Whyte met at the Boston Museum School of Fine Art in 1927. She was a Boston debutante. He was a member of one of Banff's pioneer families. They married in 1930, and made Banff and the Canadian mountains their home. A studio was built one year later where they would live and paint the grandeur of their beloved mountains.

"From their home in the Canadian Rockies, the Whytes painted 40 to 50 days each year of the 1930s. They painted outdoors within calling distance of each other, creating swift, strong sketches of the mountain landscape.

"Since her formal training did not include the art of landscape painting, Catharine studied and learned from Peter and other artists such as J.E.H. MacDonald and Carl Rungius.

"Rungius and Belmore Browne were influential with their ideas and use of colour. Catharine and Peter traveled extensively and continued to paint and draw through the 50s and 60s until Peter's death in 1966. Catharine then turned her concerns to the community, travel, skiing and conservation. Their interest in culture and understanding of philanthropy led to the development of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, first opened in 1968. Catharine remained involved until her death in 1979.

"Rays of light and swirling clouds often form the focus in Catharine's sketches. Peter constructed obscure mountain views with somber mystic hues of blues, browns and greens."

See images of their paintings in the collection of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. The museum has a large archive of the Whytes' papers, including numerous diaries, letters, photographs, etc. These have been well catalogued. A database of this archive is searchable online at To search, into the "FONDS" form, enter "WHYTE, PETER AND CATHARINE WHYTE."

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Myra Entertainment is creating a movie, “Drawing Home,” about Peter and Catharine Whyte, and expects to release it in 2013. The research for this movie project on Peter and Catharine Whyte began about 5-6 years earlier at the Whyte Museum Archives, and part of it was filmed in Peter and Catharine’s house, which is on the grounds of the Whyte Museum.

See the poster that advertises (2013) this film at beside a plot summary: "In the 1920s, privileged and talented young Catharine Robb of Concord, Massachusetts is dating John D. Rockefeller III, a member of one of the wealthiest families in the world. While studying at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, her life suddenly changes forever upon meeting Peter Whyte, a young painter from the mountains of Banff, Alberta. Recognizing a soulmate in each other, Catharine and Peter initially hide their courtship from the world before shocking everyone with their plans to wed and settle in the wilds of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Amid the splendor of nature, the couple experiences life's joys and challenges, discovering that "home" can sometimes be found in another person."

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"The White/Whyte family has commissioned local historian Chic Scott to research and write a biography about the White/Whyte family."

His email address is

Source: Email from Elizabeth Kundert-Cameron, Manager Library and Reference Service, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, to MR Delahunt, April 19, 2013.

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Email message from Chic Scott to Michael Delahunt on April 21, 2013:

Hi Michael,

Thank you for contactng me. I can help you with the White/Whyte family tree but I do not have it digitized at the moment. It is on a giant 4 foot x 4 foot poster board. I am writing a book about the family and the family tree will be in the book when it is published (anticipated date is June 2014). Of course I would prefer that the information not be made public until the book is published.

Regarding your question about Dave White: Peter's father's name was Dave and he also had a brother Dave (who was known as Jackie). Dave (Jackie) was married to Barbara Carpenter and Jon Whyte is their son.

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Catharine Whyte's Timeline

June 13, 1906
Concord, MA, USA
March 7, 1979
Age 72
Calgary, AB, Canada