November 30, 1916 Pulling Strings

November 30, 1916

It was another gray day today. The temperature got into the high forties and the snow that came last week all melted away. Nothing is left now. I went to the grocer on Yonge St. to pick up some potatoes, beans and some tinned meat. It’s the second time I’ve been there since I’ve been back. The first time shopping was no problem because the clerks thought I was someone passing through. But they never forget a face – I felt that this morning. I knew they were looking at me trying to figure out who I was and what were my circumstances. Mostly it’s women that shop there, or the servants from the estates. I didn’t fit either, so their curiosity was piqued, and I could feel the eyes on me. There’s another grocer along Bloor – I’ll go there next time.

Dr MacCallum came to visit in the afternoon. He brought a copy of Canadian Magazine, and with a self-satisfied smile, he remarked, “You have to see it to believe it, Tom. Have a look after page 176!” I opened it up, and to my surprise, the painting I had exhibited at the C.N.E was there.

“Tom, I pulled a few strings to have your painting published.” I mumbled something of gratitude. I appreciate what Dr. MacCallum has done for me, it’s difficult right now, but I didn’t like that feeling of obligation that I am sure he was expecting of me. Dr. MacCallum had recently become the President of the Arts & Letters Club and I am sure I was the first and easiest target for his newfound patronage of the arts. I had obliged myself less, by giving up my spot in the Studio and moving into the Shack. Lawren paid for material for the repairs, but I helped out making them.

“Tom, where is the sketch?” Dr MacCallum was referring to the sketch I made the canvas from. I pulled it out from one of the piles. I painted it in Park late August last summer – the leaves were showing a hint of colour, I remember. It was hot, it was the Harvest Moon, for anyone outside of the Park. I have memories of the Harvest Moon, when I was growing up in Owen Sound and when I went for work on the Harvest Excursion out West in Winnipeg. Dr. MacCallum pulled out his billfold and gave me $17. I gave him the sketch. He took it without saying thanks because he knew I disliked doing these transactions with my art. But I needed the money. I showed him what I was planning to paint. I hadn’t decided the overall scene yet, but I had a good idea of what I was going to bring in from my sketches. I had the four sketches laid out, showing the logs, the hill, the boats and the figures of men I was going to paint. I didn’t need a sketch of the skies, because the skies in the Park were forever burned into my mind’s eye.