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,