Angus, Shortt:

An Inventory of His Papers, Paintings, and Drawings at the University of Manitoba, Archives & Special Collections

Inventory prepared by Vladimira Zvonik
University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections,
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Finding aid encoded by Vladimira Zvonik (2007)
Finding aid written in English.

Collection Summary

University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections,
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Angus Shortt

Angus Shortt fonds

1918 - 2005

125 cm of textual records; 273 photographs, 3 photo-albums, artwork collection, and artifacts

Mss 185 (A.06-23, A.06-37)


Return to Top

Biography of Angus Shortt

Angus Shortt is a well known Winnipeg artist and painter of wildlife art. He was born on September 25, 1908 in Belfast, Ireland. His family immigrated to Canada in 1911 and settled in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 1926 Shortt started working for Brigden's commercial art firm as a wood engraver. As an apprentice he was sent to study at the University of Manitoba under Professor L. LeMoine Fitzgerald. Shortt was interested in painting wildlife and studied wild birds plumage and anatomy. In 1932 Shortt obtained a federal collecting permission to hunt and taxidermy wild birds and in 1935 he obtained a position at the Museum of Manitoba where he worked on restoration of a Treherne Plesiosaur skeleton. Shortt was also interested in studies of wild birds (Birds of Paradise, Hummingbirds, Clay-Colored Sparrow, Sunbirds, Raptors, and Hawks). He presented his research to the Natural History Society of Manitoba (1936-38). There he met his wife Elizabeth (Betsy) Haak who became his long time partner in life and work. In 1939, when Ducks Unlimited was formed, he became an artist-technician for the public relations department. There he specialized in painting ducks and geese and donated his painting to many Ducks Unlimited fund-raisings. Angus Shortt also designed series of the Manitoba wildflower and bird paintings; series of 12 medallions, featuring designs based on provincial wildflowers for Canada's Centennial; series of greeting cards depicting variety of ducks; and sets of playing cards with wildlife illustrations for the U.S. Playing Card Co., Ohio. He illustrated Treasure of Waterfowl (1946), Birds of Colorado (1965), and Ducks and Men: Forty Years of Co-operation in Conservation (1978). To honor Angus Shortt, Ducks Unlimited named a lake (Shortt Lake) to honor his longtime work. In 1962 he designed a fifteen cent stamp for Post Office Department. He retired in 1973. Angus Shortt was recipient of many awards and medals. He was awarded the Good Citizenship Award in 1969; the Centennial Gold Medal of Remembrance by the Manitoba Historical Society in 1970; and the Golden Jubilee Medal was presented to Mr. Angus Shortt on the occasion of the fiftieth Anniversary of the Accession of Her Majesty the Queen to the Throne in 2002. Angus Shortt's wife Elizabeth (Betsy) Shortt was a naturalist, gardener, and former judge of floral arrangements for the Winnipeg Horticultural Society. She received a number of scholastic awards including the Governor General's Gold Medal in 1933 and became a member of the Manitoba Naturalist's Society in 1934. Angus Shortt's brother, Terry Shortt was also artist and worked at the Royal Ontario Museum as an illustrator and the chief of art and exhibits. Angus Shortt passed away on January 8, 2006, at the age of 97 and his wife Betsy passed away on July 1, 2006, at the age of 90.

Return to Top

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The fond consists of biographical information, correspondence, field records, journals, Ducks Unlimited publications, artwork collection, numerous paintings and designs of ducks and geese and other wildlife birds; photo-reproductions of artwork; and scrapbooks reflecting A. Shortt's graphic artwork, family photographs and biographical information depicting his life. There are also substantial photograph collection and video collection featuring an interview with Angus and Betsy Shortt conducted by Bev Pike for Manitoba Museum Archives and various Ducks Unlimited films.

Return to Top

Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is arranged into ten series and PC 207 - Photograph and Video Collection

  • 1. Biographical info
  • 2. Correspondence
  • 3. Field records, check lists, journals
  • 4. Ducks Unlimited (Canada)
  • 5. Scrapbooks
  • 6. Stamps, Greeting Card Series
  • 7. Allan Brooks and Loius Aggasiz Fuertes
  • 8. Angus Shortt's book and audio recording - Oversize
  • 9. Artwork Collection
  • 10. Artifacts and books
  • PC 207 - Photograph Collection and Video Collection

Return to Top

Restrictions on Access

No restrictions on Access.

Return to Top

Custodial History

The Accession was donated to the University of Manitoba Archives by Shortt Family in 2006.

Return to Top

Detailed Description of the Collection

Biographical info []
11 Shortt Memories - Chickadees to Canvasbacks: an Autobiography of Wildlife by Artist Angus Shortt, 1995


2 Golden Jubilee Medal, 2002

The Medal was presented to Mr. Angus Shortt on the occasion of the fiftieth Anniversary of the Accession of Her Majesty the Queen to the Throne.

3 Awards, 1957-1999

  • Good Citizenship Award presented to Angus Shortt for exemplifying a way of life that helps make Manitoba a better place for all in which to live, 1969 (see also oversize box - artifacts and PC 207, Box 3, Fd.1 -photographs)
  • The St. Vital Heart of the Community Volunteer Award, 1999
  • Sponsor of Ducks Unlimited Canada, 1957
  • Prairie Patron - one acre of endangered tall grass prairie in southern Manitoba has been protected on behalf of Angus and Betsy Shortt (no.256)

4 Biographical sketches, CV, newspaper clippings, 1965-2005
5 Artwork inventories (Estate), 1921-2000

includes handwritten artwork lists of "North American Birds, Birds Other than North American", US Contacts - Purchased Paintings

6 Terence M. Shortt (1911-1986) - Biographical info

Angus Shortt's brother


7 Elizabeth (Betsy) Shortt - Correspondence, Flower Arrangement Instructions - Shows, 1958-69

Angus Shortt's wife

Return to Top

Correspondence, 1937-2005
18 Correpondence - General, 1937-2005
9 Correspondence - Retirement, 1973
10 Correspondence - the 90th Birthday, 1998
11 Correspondence - the 60th Wedding Anniversary, 1999
12 Correspondence - the 95th Birthday, 2005

Return to Top

Field records, check lists, journals, 1926-2000
113 Great Birding Days: a preminiary listing by species, 1931-1996
21 Diaries, Journals, 1926, 1950, 1952, 1976-79
2 Field Notes, 1938-45
  • First trip to B.C., 1945
  • 1938 Survey of bird life in Western Manitoba (June 1-August 30)
  • Field Notes and Bird List, 1944-1945
3 Bird lists, 1997-2000


Return to Top

Ducks Unlimited, (Folio no.3) [ 1946-2005 ]
24 Publications, 1946-1967
5 Publications, 1968 -2005
6 Marsh World - 104-week series, 1970-1981
31 Ducks Unlimited - "Story" scrapbook, 1978-2001

newspaper clippings, photographs, articles, reminiscences by A. Shortt, prints,

Return to Top

Scrapbooks, 1918 - 2002
32-3 Deer Lodge, 1918-1938
41 Book no.1 1940's-1970's

157 Oil & Water color paintings and pen and ink drawings

(copies of original work)

2 Book no.2, 1928-1970's

(copies of original work)

includes A. Shortt's first duck and goose paintings, 1928 (photocopies)

43 Book no.3, 1940's-1990's

Original early pencil sketches

note: Pencil drawings, many subjects - birds, animals, flowers, waterfowl (Albom #6)

51 Book no.4, 1934 - 1990's

(prints, narratives, photographs)

52 Book no.5, 1929 - 1990's

Early Original Greeting Cards/ Cartoons

3 New York, 1938

(originals removed)

4 New York Scrapbook, 1938-1993

(photocopies of New York, 1938)

61 Early Years - Originals, 1928 - 1970's

(original drawings, prints, photographs)

2 Popular Duck Prints and Drawings,

(original drawings and prints - photocopies)

71 Tropical Birds Scrapbook, 1938 -1940


2 Eighteen Photo Prints of Ducks - Scrapbook, 1953-1970


3 Engravings - Scrapbook, 1929-1930

(includes an original scrapbook and photocopies of the scrapbook)

For wood engraving plates see artifacts

81 Hawk Studies (1935) - Scrapbook, 1930's - 2002


Return to Top

Stamps, Greeting Card Series, 1960 - 1967
82 Stamps - Canada Geese Design, 1963

see also PC 207, Box 1, Fd.2 (albom)

3 US Canada Migrating Birds Stamp on Waterbirds series, 1960

see also Waterbirds Series

4 Centenary Series - Provincial Floral Set, Floral Emblems, 1965

see also PC 207, Box 1, Fd.2 (album)

5-7 Centenary Series - Provincial Floral Set, Centennial Provincial Floral Medallions, 1967
91 Waterbird Series, 1960

(24 cards with envelops, complete set, A. Shortt's first set)

2 Waterbird Series, 1960

(24 cards)

3 Waterbird Series, 1960

(complete set, 15 cards authographed)

4 Waterbird Series, 1960

(39 cards, 13 cards autographed)

Return to Top

Allan Brooks and Loius Aggasiz Fuertes
95 Allan Brooks - 50 Summer Birds of Eastern North America, 1974

(cards - incomplete set)

6 Allan Brooks - 50 Winter Birds of Eastern North America, 1974

(cards - no.23-24 missing)

7 Allan Brooks - 50 Spring Birds of Eastern North America, 1974

(cards - incomplete set)

101 Louis Aggasiz Fuertes -Birds of New York, 1916


2 Louis Aggasiz Fuertes -Birds of New York, 1916


3 Louis Aggasiz Fuertes -Birds of New York, 1916

(no. 30-69)

4 Louis Aggasiz Fuertes -Birds of New York, 1916

(no. 70-105)

Return to Top

A. Shortt's book and audio recording - Oversize, 1948, 1954
111 Know Your Ducks and Geese by Shortt and Carwright, 1948
2 Audio recording - Ducks Unlimited Broadcast: Waterfowl Art, February 1, 1954

(one LP disc and one audio cassette)

Return to Top

Artwork Collection
121 Epidioscope Slides, 1928 -38, 1984, 1993

  • Believe It or Nots , 1936-37, 1984
  • Little Birds of Brilliant Color, 1936-37
  • Bird Evolution, 1936
  • Birds of Paradise, 1936-37
  • Hummingbirds, 1936
  • Toucans & Hornbills, 1936
  • Accipitriinae, 1936
  • Clay-Coloured Sparrow (2 sets), 1936
  • Fiels Identification of Birds, 1937
  • Sunbirds, 1936
  • Raptors, 1928
  • Hawk Studies (see Box 8, Fd.1)
  • Brilliant Color Birds and Hummingbirds, 1936
  • North American Birds, 1938

includes a scrapbook with epidioscope slides index - photocopies (1993)

13 Folio no.6 1933-1996

  • Provincial Floral Design - stamps - 11 pencil drawings, 1965 (see also Box 8, Fd. 4-7)
  • Leaves, flowers, trees - 26 pencil drawings, 1974-1981
  • Pencil schetches - Ducks (10 sketches)
  • Pencil sketches (drafts), 1933-96
  • Snowy Owl, 1950

14 Folio no.1 1930-

  • List of Birdspecies reports (hanwritten), 1930-1960
  • 3 original paintings
  • 2 posters

15 Folio no.4

(25 pencil drawings, a handwritten list of drawings in the box)

16 Folio no.5

(drawings, paintings, 1997)

17 Folio no.2

(4 original paintings)

18-19 Original Art Work

(2 green folios)

Framed paintings

  • Eagels and Vultures, 1994
  • Signs of Spring, Whiteshell, Manitoba,1982
  • Along the Frozen Seine, 1982
  • Robin, 1938

Return to Top

Artifacts and books

  • Taverner, P. A. Birds of Western Canada. Biological Series, no.10. Ottawa: Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, 1928. (2nd edition)
  • Shortt, Terence, M. Wild Birds of Canada and the Americas. Toronto: Pagurian Press Limited, 1977.
  • Leitch, W.G. Ducks and Men : 40 years of Ducks Unlimited (Canada).Altona:Friesen Printers, 1978 (autographed)
  • Bailey, Alfred. Birds of Colorado Milwaukee: Denver Museum of Natural History, 1965. vol.1-2 (autographed)


  • 5 sets of playing cards designed by A. Shortt
  • Medal - the Golden Jubilee Medal presented to Mr. Angus Shortt on the occasion of the fiftieth Anniversary of the Accession of Her Majesty the Queen to the Throne in 2002
  • Medal - Centennial Gold Medal of Remembrance by the Manitoba Historical Society in 1970
  • Medal - Governor General's Gold Medal,1933 (Betsy Shortt)
  • Medal - Award of the Natural History Society of Manitoba, 1946
  • Pin - St. Vital Historical Society, Inc
  • Pin - Excellence - Scholarship (Betsy Haak-Shortt)
  • 5 wood engraving stamps (autographed by A. Shortt)
  • Plague - Good Citizenship Award presented to Angus Shortt for exemplifying a way of life that helps make Manitoba a better place for all in which to live, 1969
  • 4 ashtrays Ducks Unlimited, 1974 - designed by A. Shortt (hand coloured)

Return to Top

PC 207 - Photograph Collection 1908 - 2005
11 Biographical info - photographs with annotations 1908-1980's

Shortt Family

2 Album - annotated, 1960's-1998

  • Pencil sketch of proposed Postage Stamp design, 1961
  • Pencil sketch of Manitoba Floral design, 1965
  • Family photographs
  • Garden photographs
  • Betsy Shortt's letter to Kim Waller, Features Editor of Victoria Magazine, New York, 1998.

3 Blossoms in my garden - Betsy Shortt -album, 1996

Betsy Shortt's family and garden photographs

21 Jewels in my garden - Betsy Shortt - album, 1984- 96
2 Jewels in my garden - Betsy Shortt - album, 1939 - 1984

Family photographs

31 Good Citizenship Award - Angus Shortt, 1969

(3 copies)

2 Angus Shortt - Photographs, 1908-2005
3 Family photos, 1970's - 2005
4 Photoreproductions of artwork - Ducks and Geese, 1930's - 2005
5 Photoreproductions of artwork - various species of birds, pt.1-3, 1930's - 2005
6 Manitoba Museum - Photographs of exhibitions and restoration of Treherne Plesiosaur skeleton, 1934-36
7 Whiteshell - Petroform - Harry Rond, 1935
8 Photographs of wooden ducks from Ruddy Real Estate, Co. and photographs of various paintings - collections
41 Interview with Angus and Betsy Shortt conducted by Bev Pike for Manitoba Museum Archives, videotaped by Robert Barrow, 1998

(VHS )

2 This Land "Wings to the Future", 1979


3 Each Year They Come - They Always Come Back

(VHS) 35 min.

4 Cotter's Wilderness Trails - Raptors-Beaks and Talons: George Cotter's Return to Cumberland (episode #26)


5 Cotter's Wilderness Trails "Right Around Home" and "Arctic Journey" (episodes no. 17, 24)


Return to Top