November 27, 1916
New book, first journal entry.
I picked up the book up at the art shop where I get supplies. I like the cover. 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. I bought the book anyway.
I’m not much for writing so I can’t promise that I’ll be making this a regular item. I’ll try my best. I enjoying writing letters, but I never write about what I truly think because I don’t know who’s going to read them. My letters have been read by others, especially at Mowat Lodge, where it’s a recreational pastime for the nosey women. I’m sure Annie Fraser has read all of my letters. But I am going to take care that this journal is private so I can record my thoughts. Sketches and paintings are good for expression, but there are secrets and hidden feelings within that will never be revealed unless I write about them. That’s the reason for the journal.
I’m settled in the shack now. I’ve been back the better part of two weeks. After my time was done in Achray and Basin Depot, I went to Canoe Lake, South River (Tom Wattie) and back to Canoe Lake. Coming to Toronto, I stopped over in Huntsville at the Trainors. The connection to Owen Sound is poor so I didn’t visit my mother and father. I came straight back to Toronto. I’ll see them at Christmas.
I brought with me over a hundred sketches. I sent about sixty, early in the summer, before I went fire-ranging. I still had a few at Mowat Lodge – that’s why I went back. Though I sent a shipment down earlier I still had a good two dozen at the Lodge. 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 can probably fix them but I doubt I will be selling them so it’s not worth the trouble.
I have to start working on canvases. Dr MacCallum came by and had a look at what I had done over the season. He suggested a couple for canvases. I haven’t decided which ones to paint yet, but I am pleased with the sketches I made near Grand Lake and on the Petawawa. Dr MacCallum said he sold seven of my sketches over the summer and put the money in my account. I should have enough to tide me over the winter.
Gloomy here in Toronto. I’ll be glad to leave again in the spring, early in the spring, I hope. I plan to keep to myself as I don’t like what’s going on in the City for the War effort. There’s a 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, but I haven’t met them yet. As my mail is addressed to the Studio Building, I’ll be dropping by most days, so I’m sure to bump into them.
I can’t promise how much and when I will write. I can paint like a storm but writing’s another thing. I can take inspiration from the boys at the Front who are writing endless streams of letters back home. I’ve seen how the girls and wives hang onto these letters, slipping them into their purses and pockets for safekeeping, I’ve seen 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. A tree came down took the electrical and telephone lines out for all of Rosedale. Winter’s justice for the rich. I only have the one bulb, so it didn’t make much difference to me. I’ve kept my lantern
Tomorrow is stretching canvas.