Barb was born 1922 in Peterborough, Ontario. Growing up in Toronto, she enrolled in the Ontario College of Art in 1940. She had some wonderful instructors, Franklin Carmichael, Rowley Murphy, and George Pepper, to name but just a few. At the College she was recognized as outstanding even then, with Barb receiving the Lieutenant-Governor's medal for design and execution of the annual museum project. ; the-Bntish American Bank Note prize of one year's tuition at the College; O'Keefe Award for poster design; and a poster award for the Greek War Relief.
After leaving her mark in Toronto, the family moved to Winnipeg in 1946. The following year, Barb applied for membership into the Manitoba Society of Artists. She became a full member in 1948, exhibiting in their annual Show held in the Old Winnipeg Art Gallery. (the Civic Auditorium) It was here where she had a "One Person Show" under the direction of the curator at that time, Dr. Ferdinand Eckhardt. For a number of years she worked on the Women's Auxilary of the Art Gallery, in designing themes for their Art Fairs every spring.
Barb worked at Brigden's Winnipeg Publications in the Advertising department where she met many established artists, who were also employed there. Barb seems to be always travelling in exciting circles and always meeting other talented people.
The 1950's saw Barb doing more art work in the area of portraits or landscapes as commissioned piecesor freelance work for advertising firms. Many of her paintings are now in private collections and also in the permanent collection of the "new" Winnipeg Art Gallery.
The 50's also saw Barb painting very large murals around town. The Trophy Room at Shea's Brewery, the boy's dormitory of the St. Joseph's Vocational School, a wall in St. Ignatius Catholic Church, and one wall of the Children's Playroom in the St. Boniface Hospital.
Her reputation grew, and in 1951 Professor Charles Comfort ask her to help him execute a mural in Vancouver, B.C. Once in Vancouver, and after the mural was completed, she decided to stay on at the VSA, under the guidance of Jack Shadbolt, and Orville Fisher. That year was very productive with shows in the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Calgary Allied Arts Center, and in Edmonton.
Upon returning to Winnipeg, she joined the old Winnipeg School Of Art, and become actively involved with-amateur theater as well as musical entertainment. Her talents were called upon for set design, costumes etc. She was a member of Winnipeg Workshop Players, Winnipeg Little Theater (later MTC), Venture Theater, Cercle Moliere, Manitou Native Theater, Winnipeg Opera Society, and Studio 22. All these endeavors spanned 25 years, and left her with little time to do "regular" painting.
In 1958 Barb started working for Bristol Aerospace in the Publishing Department, turning out detailed mechanical illustrations of aeroplane parts and the occasional drawings in the Company newspaper. There she met her husband, Leon H. Endres, marrying him in 1961.
With the decline of amateur theater, after the formation of the Manitoba Theater Center, Barb became heavily involved in the founding of the Historical Grant's Mill and the Historical Museum of St. James Assiniboia.
In the late 1970's Barb's husband retired from work due to health problems and in time required almost constant care, which meant that there was little time for her "outside" interests. Her work in art almost came to a standstill. In 1984 he passed away and Barb started to become active again with all of her interests. An 11 'x 28' mural was designed and painted over a 2 year period and is on view to the public at the Deer Lodge Community Club.
It seemed that whenever Barb would get back to painting, the health of other loved ones would put a hold on her creativity. In 1991 to the summer of 1992, most of her time was taken up with the caring of her mother. As well as having her mother living with her, she also undertook to have major construction done to her home. At the time it made it impossible for Barb to do any art work at all. In June of 1992, Barb was able to get her mom into a nursing home and now with her large sunny addition to paint in, she was able to return to creating and painting once again doing what she loved. Since the 1990's, she and her sister Eleanor each sold many drawings to the Globe and Mail for their 'Landscape' feature, which were drawings in black and white of locations of interest to Canadians.
In her work for the MSA, Barb was an archivist par excellence. She collected news clippings and art show catalogs and organized them so that a comprehensive collection of information about the art scene in Winnipeg was available for future generations. Her work was so thorough that the Manitoba Archives accepted them as valued insights into the history of art in Manitoba and her records reside there now.
During Barb’s many years with the MSA she provided detailed accounts of all the MSA meetings from 1947 onward as she rotated through executive positions over the years. Barb’s amazing attention to detail recorded everything that was said or implied, and thus the recorded minutes of MSA meetings are by no means the usual dry stuff. You had to be very careful at the meetings for Barb recorded EVERYTHING. This penchant for minutiae provides the modern reader of MSA historical records, with delightful “petites histoires” from the past.
Through the years, Barb’s unflagging support was evident at all the MSA activities, she helped to hang the shows, attended all the social events, hosted executive meetings at her home, she mentored younger members, and generously provided continuity for new organizers. Not only has she been an unflagging MSA booster, she has found volunteers for hard-to-fill positions, e.g. Barb persuaded her good accountant friend Jack Watts to take on the office of Treasurer in 1987, and it is a testament to Barb’s dedication that he remains in that office today, because, as he says, “I’m certainly not an artist”.
Barb joined MSA in 1947 and served in various executive positions continuously until her retirement in 2008. She was designated an honorary member in 2006. Upon her passing in 2010, she left a bequest to MSA, which allows a bursary to promising artist students at U of M and Red River College.
During her many years with MSA, Barb was a pillar and a rock, she helped build a solid organization that has weathered many challenges. She provided inspiration and vision to several generations of artists, and in her honour the MSA has renamed the 1st Place Award of OJCE as the Barbara Cook Endres Award for First Place. There is no stipulation attached to this award, it is therefore at the jurors’ discretion, The Best of Show.