Given names: 
Given address: 
Filleul Street
Sheet No: 49
Central Dunedin

Biography contributed by Katherine Blakeley

Catherine MacDougal was born about 1836.

When she signed the suffrage petition she was living in Filleul St, Dunedin working as an artist.

In the 1890s and 1900s Catherine gave painting classes in a studio in Moray Place, Dunedin.

She died in Napier on 7 November 1924 and is buried in the Old Napier Cemetery.


Otago Nominal Index

Papers Past

See also commuity contribution by Helen Edwards below.

Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand.

Community contributions

1 comment has been posted about Catherine McDougal

What do you know?

Helen Edwards

Posted: 04 Nov 2019

McDougal, Catherine, Filleul Street, Central Dunedin. Sheet 49

According to her death certificate, Catherine Macdougal was born in London. She signed herself ‘Catherine M’Dougal’ on the petition, in the style of the time. It is a rare use of her first name; she was known as Miss MacDougal (in variant forms of her name) in newspaper advertisements for her art classes, in reviews of the annual Otago Art Society exhibitions where her paintings hung, and in decades of reports on nonconformist church gatherings, at which she was a regular speaker.

Catherine may have arrived in Otago as a Provincial Government assisted immigrant on the Pladda in December 1862, or in April 1863 on the Silistria. Her name first appeared in local newspapers in 1873, when she and Mrs Coombs, both from the Hanover Street Baptist Church, initiated the idea of a Dunedin Female Refuge. Within a year the Refuge was caring for victims of abuse, prostitutes and single mothers, and Catherine was a member of the large committee. Her concern for the welfare of women and children also led to membership on the board of management of the Young Women’s Christian Association. She taught at the Association’s Mission School and became involved with the temperance movement. In November 1892 she delivered ‘a stirring address’ to a meeting of the Women’s Franchise League.

In April 1881, she was in the news for her donation to a Baptist Church bazaar of ‘a beautiful oil painting of Black Jack’s Point, a valuable donation, and … much admired’ according to the Otago Witness. This is the first reference to Catherine Macdougal, the artist. In 1884 she advertised classes in drawing and painting for girls and boys, at one guinea per quarter. She seems to have joined the Otago Art Society as a working member in 1890, and exhibited at the annual exhibition in November that year. Stone’s Dunedin and Southland Directories lists ‘Miss Catherine McDougal, artist’ at Hanover Street in 1891 and 1892; one of her 1890 contributions was ‘From my Window’ (No. 75), ‘a very realistic sketch of a scene not a thousand miles from the corner of Hanover and Filleul streets’, according to the Otago Daily Times. The reviewer also commented on ‘Caesar’ (No. 97), ‘a very nicely painted dog’s head’. Miss Macdougal was fond of dogs; she advertised when her Japanese poodle, Wagsie, went missing. She may also have been hard of hearing. In 1892 she mislaid her bag, containing an ear trumpet.

She exhibited at the Otago Art Society’s annual exhibition almost every year from 1890 until 1902, offering landscapes in oils (mostly of Otago subjects) and flower paintings; about 46 works in total. Her 1891 exhibit, ‘Reach on the Taieri River’, sold for six guineas. Further advertisements for art classes appeared from 1893 till 1906, her address changing from time to time to other central city locations. She lived at Moray Place from 1898 till 1909. Several unusual artistic contributions appeared at Salvation Army Harvest Festivals around the turn of the century. The Dowling Street Fortress was decorated with harvest themes, and Miss Macdougal painted the backdrops. In 1897 she covered the entire back wall with a Queenstown scene, including the Remarkables and a steamer on the lake. Her 1901 backdrop showed a quaint English farmhouse and old-fashioned windmill. She was only the second woman to list her name under ‘Artists’ in the Trades Directory of Stone’s. The first was Miss J. (Jenny) Wimperis in 1887 and 1889. ‘McDougal, Catherine (Miss), artist, Hanover Street’ appeared in 1891 and 1892.

By about 1907 her energies appear to have been directed solely towards her church work. She was associated with the Primitive Methodist Church at Fairfield, where she officiated or preached. ‘Miss M’Dougall, of Dunedin’ broke her rib when her buggy collided with a coal train at a railway crossing in Fairfield in December 1907. The Evening Star reported that her driver, Robert Howorth, of Walton Park, Fairfield, thought he had plenty of time to cross. She delivered her lecture, ‘Snapshots in God’s Harvest Field’ in the Salvation Army Barracks in Milton in September 1908, where the Bruce Herald described her as ‘a lady well-known in Dunedin, and of very wide Christian experience’. Her lecture was repeated in Ashburton in September 1910. It contained ‘some very humorous and pathetic stories of slum cases, with which the Army has had extensive dealings,’ as the Ashburton Guardian reported.

She was living in Great King Street from 1910 to 1912, but was in Napier in July 1914, when she sent a message to the Hanover Street Baptist Church on their Jubilee celebrations. Electoral rolls record her in Napier in 1914 and 1919. Her death certificate records her death in Napier Hospital of heart failure on 7 November 1924, at the age of 87, after 60 years of life in New Zealand. She was not forgotten in Dunedin, where the Otago Daily Times printed a short death notice. Mary Ann Leask (née Ellery) (1862?-1929) and Robert Craigie Leask (1842-1903) share their grave with her in the Old Napier Cemetery.

I haven’t found any examples of Catherine’s paintings, but she has a tenuous link to present-day Dunedin by another route. In 1906 the Forth Street building where the Refuge had been located became the Forth Street [Maternity] Hospital. Forth St and St Helens Maternity Hospitals combined in 1937 to create the new Queen Mary Maternity Hospital, which exists today as the Queen Mary Maternity Centre at Dunedin Hospital.

Other Dunedin artists who signed the 1893 petition include Kate Ogston (Sheet 175), Eliza Anscombe (Sheet 69) and Bessie Hocken (Sheets 96 and 125). A. T. [Annie Taylor] Blacke, Heriot row, signed Sheet 168 with her mother and sister; Mrs W. D. [Rachel] Stewart, a photographer, signed Sheet 153, and Margaret Hartley, Howe Street, signed Sheet 167. I. [Isabella Mary] Siedeberg, York Place, signed Sheet 97, as did her sister Emily Hancock Siedeberg, New Zealand’s first woman medical graduate, and Superintendent of St Helen’s Maternity Hospital.

Helen Edwards
October 2019

Main sources:
Births death & marriages online. Dept. of Internal Affairs
Electoral rolls on microfiche and
Otago Art Society. Annual exhibition catalogues.
Papers Past. National Library of New Zealand
Scott, Emma, Hocken Collections. Personal communication.
Stone’s Otago and Southland commercial, municipal and general directory … Dunedin: Stone & Co., 1884-