November 28, 1916

November 28, 1916

I knocked a few frames together. A few big ones and several smaller ones. The others like to buy theirs ready-made and stretched at the shop but I like making my own. It’s a good feeling to paint on something you stretched yourself and if there’s anything wrong with it, you’ve got no one else to blame except yourself. And if a painting doesn’t go the way you expected you disappoint no one except yourself when you break it up and burn it in the stove.

I managed to get a roll of linen that was left behind from Harris. Some of his stuff was left in the Studio Building and I asked the others if I could take the line. Not an issue because I’m the only one who can make the frames to use it. I promised to make a few extra and bring them back up.

The stretchers I buy from the art shop, only because I don’t have the right tools to make the grooves and get the angles right. I’ve made some frames with framing lumber, but they warp when they stretched so I stick with the ones from the shop. I stretched 3 large canvases. Almost 5 feet by 5 feet. I decided to make them more in the proportion of a square than a rectangle. With the large size, I wanted a canvas where I could reach as far up and down as I could from side to side. With the size of these I had to add some supports to stop the flexing. I need to put the ground on these canvases yet, but I think I’ll stretch a few more before I put it on.

I was looking through my sketches to get a better idea of what I want to put on canvas. The pines I painted near Grand Lake are good candidates to I’ve put sketches over by the wall behind the easel. I’ve got in my mind to paint some pointer boats. I like their shape, their colours red, and they look majestic together in the midst of timber run down the big rivers (Petawawa and Ottawa R.). I didn’t have the occasion the sketch the scene (I was fire-ranging) but I remember a lake full of timber, a half-dozen pointer boats with pole men all set in front a lakeside hill of fall blazing alders and pine. The cloud were what the weather folks call cirrus (thin and wispy) making the whole scene like a dance vibrant dotted of colours. I’ve seen some of Seurat’s paintings and I may try using complementary colours and dots to create the effect of what I saw.

I went out for a bit later in the afternoon. The snow from the previous days has made a misery of the side streets that aren’t paved. I went to the grocer to buy some potatoes, ham and a few other things for cooking. Food prices have gone up terribly, so I’ll have to cut back on the luxury items. I walked through the ravine and managed to find an old chair that was in decent shape. People dump their trash wherever there is a steep incline off the road. Not far from the better-off neighbourhoods you never know what you’re going to find as being useful off to the side of the road. Last year, I found an elaborate base to a spinning wheel (minus the wheel). It was the perfect height to serve as a workbench beside my easel.

I wrote a letter to my Father tonight, as well. I feel bad that I didn’t make it back to Owen Sound. The prodigal-son feeling is coming on strong again. I can only get rid of that feeling when I visit, but then it comes back again. The reminders in Father’s letters of my brother George’s constant success and ongoing family devotion doesn’t help either.

Letter to Father November 28, 1916

Tuesday, Nov 28, 1916

c/o Studio Building, 25 Severn Toronto

Dear Father,

I made it back to Toronto a couple of weeks ago. Sorry I did not write you sooner but the business of getting settled back here in the City kept me from writing any letters. A letter from George was here for me when I arrived. I haven’t had a chance to write back to him yet. He wants me to come visit him in New Haven, CT. I’m not sure if I can, if I do, it will be after Christmas.

I had a good run fire ranging in the eastern section of the Park. Mostly around Achray. I made it to Pembroke and Bonnechere and Paugh Lake close to Barry’s Bay. I got some mason jars in Barry’s bay and while we were laid over I made blueberry preserves. The season was good this year and they were plentiful. I shipped them down to Toronto and I will bring a jar up with me.

Am sorry also I didn’t make it to Owen Sound on my way. The connections are bad from the Park and I needed to get back with my sketches. I was thinking about going to Collingwood/Meaford and taking a stage across but it was too expensive and walking not possible because I had too much with me. I’ll be up at Christmas, most likely a few days before and will stay for New Year’s. I plan to stay for a few days in town but also at Tom and Elizabeth’s in Annan. Please say hello to them. If you see the Rosses or Rutherfords, please give my regards to them too.

My plan is to paint here for the winter. I made quite a few good sketches this past summer and fall and had a quite a load coming back to Toronto. The past week I’vebeen getting the place together so I can start on the canvases. Dr MacCallum is letting me stay here in the shack behind for a cheap rate. Not quite like the Chat. Laurier, but with a good fire going you’d be hard pressed to find the difference.

Please give my love to Mother and Auntie and tell them I will be up at Christmas. I’m looking forward to a fine time.

I am your affectionate son,


November 27, 1916

November 27, 1916

New book, first journal entry.

I picked the book up at the art shop where I got supplies. I was going to use it for sketching, but when I opened it and saw it had lined paper I got the idea of writing a journal. The book’s no good for sketching but I bought it anyway.

I’m not much for writing so I can’t promise that I’ll be making this a regular thing but I’ll try my best. I write the occasional letter, I enjoy doing that, but I never write about my true feelings because I never know who’s going to read them and pass judgement on me. I know the letters I’ve received have been read by others, especially at Mowat Lodge. Annie Fraser, the busybody she is, I reckon she’s read all of the letters I got up north. So I am going to take special care that this journal is private so I can record my thoughts and feelings. Sketches and paintings are good for expression, but for the world to see as they are, there are secrets and hidden feelings in those paintings that will never be revealed unless I write about them. That’s the reason for the journal.

I’m pretty much settled in the shack now. I’ve been back the better part of two weeks.  After Achray and Basin Depot, I spent a week at Mowat Lodge, then South River (Tom Wattie), Huntsville for a couple of days at the Trainors. I was thinking about going to see my folks in Owen Sound, but with all the gear and sketches I had and the only connection from Park is through Toronto so I decided to stay here. I’ll see my my folks at Christmas.

I’ve got a several good piles of sketches. Two hundred, possibly closer to three hundred. I did some good sketching earlier in the fall and brought about sixty back with me. I still had a few at Mowat Lodge – that’s why I went back. I had sent a shipment down earlier in the summer but I still had a good two dozen at Canoe Lake. I brought them with me too. When I returned, I set the sketches out to dry a bit more. They might seem dry but they stick together if they’re bundled for a long time. I had to tie them together for the train and I took them apart as soon as I got here. Only two were badly wrecked. I could probably fix them but I doubt I can match the colour I had when I was out painting. Another reason I didn’t go to Owen Sound – my sketches would have been bundled longer and even more would have been ruined.

Back now, I have to start working on the canvases. Dr MacCallum came by and had a look at the sketches. He suggested a couple for canvases I haven’t decided which ones yet, but I was pleased with the sketches I made near Grand Lake and on the Petawawa. Dr MacCallum said he sold a few sketches over the summer and put the money in my account. I should have enough to tide me over the winter time.

It’s gloomy here in Toronto. I’ll be glad to leave again in the spring, hopefully early in the spring. I plan to keep mostly to myself as I don’t like what’s going on for the War effort. There’s a few new folks in the Studio Building. Jim MacDonald and Bill Beatty are still there. So is Curtis Williamson. There’s some ladies too, Dr. MacCallum told me, although I haven’t met them yet. My mail goes to the Studio Building, I’ll be dropping by most days to get my mail, so I’m sure to bump into them.

As I said earlier, I can’t promise how much and when I will write. I can paint like a storm but writing’s another thing. I can only say that I’m taking inspiration from our boys at the Front who are writing their endless streams of letters back home to their loved ones. I’ve seen how the girls and wives hang onto these letters, slipping them into their purses and pockets for safekeeping, I’ve seen a few of these letters where there are sketches and pictures, but it’s the pencil-written words of  “I love you, Mum or Sweetheart” that have the most power. Maybe this journal will have that power too, but I’m not sure to whom. Maybe it’s just for me and I will just keep it that way.

First major snowstorm. Almost a foot of heavy snow. Several trees came down with the weight of the snow and took the electrical and telephone lines out for all of Rosedale. Winter’s justice for the rich. I only have the one electrical bulb, so it didn’t make much difference to me.

Tomorrow’s not a day for painting or inspiration, it’s a day for canvas stretching and real perspiration.

Ontario Society of Artists AGM 1918

The forty-fifth Annual Exhibition of the Society was held in the galleries of the Toronto Art Museum at the Public Library from March 9th to April 9th, 1917. It consisted of 141 paintings in oil and water color, 39 works in black and white, etc., and 7 pieces of sculpture, contributed by 69 exhibitors of whom 33, or less than one-half, were members of the Society. These figures indicate that the Society maintains its reputation for hospitality. The Committee of Selection and Arrangement consisted of Miss Mary E. Wrinch, Mr. E. Wyly Grier, and Mr. Robert Holmes. The Exhibition was attended by 4,048 visitors, and the proceeds from the sales of tickets of admission, amounting to $455.25, were given to the Toronto and County of York Patriotic Fund.

The Trustees of the National Gallery purchased the following, works:

Aphrodites Realm -F S. Challener $350.00
A Northern Light -F. H. Johnston $250.00
Asters and Golden Rod – J. E. H. MacDonald $150.00
Study in Rose and Green – Mary W Reid $200.00
Total .$950.00

Very few private sales were made, and the Ontario Government again purchased nothing. The pressure of war conditions is no doubt the cause of these economies, and we cannot expect much relief until the termination of the great struggle which is putting so great a strain upon all our resources.

In July the members of the Society were shocked to learn of the death by drowning in Canoe Lake, of Mr. Tom Thomson. Mr. Thomson had been a member of the Society for only three years, and though his retiring disposition had confined his personal acquaintance to a comparatively small circle, his work had revealed to an increasing audience the presence of a strong and sensitive personality in Canadian Art. His death at the early age of forty deprives the country of a landscape painter of remarkable performance and of great promise, and his influence undoubtedly will be felt strongly in the future development of Canadian painting. The Society recalls with satisfaction that it was the means of introducing Thomson’s work to public attention, and desires to record its regret at the untimely ending of one whose progress it had watched with something akin to fatherly pride.

Song from an Unknown Logger


It’s fifteen a month and found
Bring your own tea
The shanty’s set high and sound,
Blankets is free.

Toad moss burns good in a pipe,
New bunks ain’t sour,
The salt pork don’t come too ripe;
We got clean flour.

You got bad hurt, you come in
We treat you fine.
We got white cloths in a tin
Some iodine.

You look like real good stayers
Born to do it;
The company’s good payers,
No worry to it.

From here Brule landing
The rampikes climb
We leave no pine top standing
Come break-up time.

~ written by an unknown logger during a drive on the Mississippi

Annual Exhibition Catalogue of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1916


Annual Exhibition Catalogue of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1916

Catalogue of the Thirty-eight Annual
Exhibition of the Royal Canadian
Academy of Arts held in the Art
Association Galleries, 679 Sherbrooke
Street, West, Montreal, opening
November the Sixteenth, 1916, and
closing December the sixteenth, 1916.

Royal Canadian Academy of Arts




Honourary Patron

President WM. BRYMNER, C.M.G. Montreal
Vice-President HOMER WATSON Doon, Ont.
Treasurer A. C. HUTCHISON Montreal
Secretary E. DYONNET Montreal

The Foot Path of Peace


To be glad of life because it gives you a chance to love, and to work, and to play, and to look up at the stars; to be satisfied with your possessions but not contented with yourself until you have made the best use of them; to despise nothing in the world except falsehood and meanness, and to fear nothing except cowardice; to be governed by your aspirations rather than by disgusts; to covet nothing that is your neighbors except his kindness of heart and gentleness of manners; to think seldom of your enemies, often of your friends and every day of Christ and to spend as much time as you can with body and Spirit in God’s out-of-doors. These are the little guide posts of the Foot Path of Peace.

Henry Van Dyke

Five Hundred Miles in Three Days

Five hundred miles in three days. These are the places I visited.

Studio Building on 25 Severn Street, Toronto

Tom Thomson Gallery, in Owen Sound

Leith Shore, near Owen Sound

Leith Cemetery, near Owen Sound

Outside the Shack, by the McMichael Gallery in Kleinberg

Inside the Shack, by the McMichael Gallery in Kleinberg


Tom Thomson statue, in downtown Huntsville

Algonquin Park, western boundary

Scotia Junction, west of Algonquin Park

Canoe Lake, my final resting place