MORRIS, MARIA FRANCES ANN (Miller), teacher, artist, and poet; b. in Halifax, N.S., 12 Feb. 1813, daughter of Captain Guy Morris and Sibylla Amelia Maria Sophia Leggett, and descendant of Charles Morris*, chief surveyor of land and second chief justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court; d. in Halifax, 28 Oct. 1875. On 7 July 1840 she married Garret Trafalgar Nelson Miller of La Have by whom she had several children.
Maria Frances Ann Morris received much of her training in art from W. H. Jones, an American who was teaching at Dalhousie College and giving lessons in Halifax, and from Professor L’Estrange, an English artist teaching in Halifax. About 1828 she painted Mount Uniacke; the picture is now owned by the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. During the early 1830s, at intervals between her studies, Miss Morris opened and closed three schools in Halifax for teaching drawing and painting to young ladies.
Encouraged by Titus Smith*, a talented local botanist, Maria Morris began to paint the wild flowers of her native land. In 1839 she announced the proposed publication of Wildflowers of Nova Scotia to be sold by subscription. A total of four series appeared comprising 99 sheets and representing 146 species; the third of the series was titled Wild flowers of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and the fourth, Wildflowers of British North America. Specimens of her work, sent to London in 1862, arrived too late for the International Exhibition, but were praised by the London press. A collection of the paintings was shown at the universal exposition in Paris in 1867. Maria Morris was the finest artist among a group of Maritime ladies who made floral painting into a 19th-century phenomenon in the area. Wild flowers of Nova Scotia is a pleasing and valuable contribution not only to floral art but also to the study of botanical science.
Maria Morris’ talent was not limited to painting, nor was she the only member of her family to possess creative ability. In 1856 she and her sister Catherine published a volume of poetry, Metrical musings, in New York.
[Maria Morris, Wildflowers of Nova Scotia. Parts i and ii of the first series appeared in 1839–40 under the patronage of Sir Colin Campbell* with descriptive texts by Titus Smith, lithographed and coloured in London, and published by C. H. Belcher, Halifax, and John Snow, London. A second series, under the patronage of Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant, with text by Dr Alexander Forrester*, and published by A. and W. Mackinlay, Halifax, and John Snow, London, appeared in 1853. A third series, under the patronage of Sir William Fenwick Williams*, with text by Professor George Lawson*, and published by M. L. Katzman, Halifax, and John Snow, London, was issued in 1866. The fourth series, again under Lieutenant Governor Williams’ patronage, and with text by Professor Lawson, was published by Reeve and Co., London, in 1867. c.b.f.]
PANS, “Collection of genealogies of Nova Scotian families (Cumberland County),” compiled by T. H. Lodge, 1954. St Paul’s Church (Halifax, N.S.), Records. Acadian Recorder (Halifax), 11 July 1840, 30 Oct. 1875, 10 Jan. 1920, 13 Oct. 1924. Christian Messenger (Halifax), 3 Nov. 1875. Colonial Churchman (Lunenburg, N.S.), 23 July 1840. Halifax Daily Reporter, 29 Oct. 1875. Novascotian (Halifax), 23 Sept. 1830; 13 Jan., 24 Nov. 1831; 20 July 1832; 22 Aug. 1833; 25 Dec. 1834; 15 Sept. 1836; 19 Jan. 1837. Times (Halifax), 15 Oct. 1839, 9 June 1840. Exposition Universelle de 1867, Catalogue of the Nova Scotian Department with introduction and appendices (Paris, 1867). W. G. Colgate, Canadian art, its origin and development (Toronto, 1943). W. B. Tucker, The romance of the Palatine Millers; a tale of Palatine Irish-Americans and United Empire Loyalists (Montreal, 1929). E. S. Nutt, “An incident in the golden age of fine art in Nova Scotia,” Nova Scotia Journal of Education, 4th ser., 111 (1932), 71–75. Harry Piers, “Artists in Nova Scotia,” N.S. Hist. Soc. Coll., XVIII (1914), 101–65.