March 21, 1917 Records of Spring

March 21, 1917

I’ll be leaving to go up North in less than two days.

I have an idea that’s never been done. I’m going to paint the season as it changes day by day. Each day a different sketch and when I’m done I’ll hang them all together so you can see the change of light and season.

I plan to make my sketches more like records. A daily record. I’ll paint what I see and feel. I have always been thinking about this idea when I spent time with my Uncle Brodie. Uncle Brodie was a naturalist and he taught me to look closely at the different species of plants and animals. I would go on excursions with him, the Brodie Club as he called it. We would start hikes early in the morning from his house and walk for hours, identifying hundreds of species of plants and animals.

It was from Brodie where I got my eye for detail in nature. A swath of green to anyone else would explode into a thousand trees for me, each having their own personality. Every trail was filled with a thousand things to see and I always chuckled to myself about the city folk I guided who said there was nothing interesting to see in the bush. City blindness I called it.

Uncle Brodie told me to keep a journal. “You will be sorry if you don’t. It will become more valuable each year.” I never did until now and I decided that my daily journal this year would be a sketch daily, recording the change in season.

I’ve arranged to stay at Mowat Lodge until the ice goes out. That will be until the first of May. I’ll probably stay close at hand until the flies are done. Probably until early July, I’ll stay and then I’ll think about a longer trip or even leaving altogether. Nobody knows about those plans yet. I don’t even know about those plans yet, so I haven’t bother to let anyone know.

Shannon Fraser owes me a large account. About $200 I lent him last year so he could buy canoes for his boat livery. I’ll draw against that and do odd jobs for him in kind. There are lots of things to repair around the Lodge and drawing the ice from the lake in springtime is a big job.

Money is short for me. What I’ve got I am spending on paint and brushes. The boards I am hoping to get from Shannon. He is keeping the leftover crates and boxes which I can take apart to make boards. Fishing, too, will keep me self sufficient. I can catch more than enough for myself and give Annie ample to feed the guests.

Mark Robinson is still overseas, so there may be possibility to be a Park Ranger for a time being. I’ll go over the Cache Lake and visit Park Supt. George Bartlett to see what the opportunities are. I’m also looking forward to seeing Ed and Molly Colson. They used to be the co-managers of the Highland Inn but moved on to the Algonquin Hotel at Joe Lake.

I had some visitors today. My brother-in-law Tom Harkness and his business associate Walter Davidson. Tom’s niece, Lowe Julian came along with her friend, Miss Andrews. They cam to see the show and Tom had some business in the City. I was supposed to call on Low but I never did. I saw her in Annan on New Year’s Eve and we took the train back from Owen Sound together. She’s taking an art class from Manley at the college. I pity her with Manley. Tom said all was fine with Elizabeth. She’s been staying in Owen Sound to help with my father. He’s been sick and bit of a handful for both mother and Aunt Henrietta. We had lunch on King and after I went with them to the hotel to pick up their luggage and then to the train station. I walked back.

I’m now packing my belongings here at the Shack. I don’t have much to bring actually. My fishing rod, kit and paddle. A few clothes, and of course my sketch box. I made a few boards to take along as well. I’ll be able to carry everything all at once. Makes me think of what someone once said “The only thing you can bring to the afterlife is what you can bring in a canoe and carry on a portage. So make it matter.”

Good advice.

1 thought on “March 21, 1917 Records of Spring”

  1. How come you never mention Winnie in your letters. Does not sound like much of a love affair to this reader.

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