November 29, 1916 Letter to Father

Nov 29, 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’ve been 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 29, 1916 Unbearable Gray

November 29, 1916

I’ve been back for two weeks now. It’s been a haze for me and I’m just getting out of it now. The city is an unbearable colour of gray. The fall colours, if there were any to begin with, are now are gone. It’s gray upon gray upon soot-black.

It’s now time to work on my canvases. Painting a canvas is different than a sketch. A sketch is spontaneous – you never know what you are going to paint when you are out there, it starts from the outside, but a canvas begins in your head. When preparing a canvas I get the butterflies in my stomach, like getting ready for a stage performance.

In the morning, I helped Jim MacDonald move some of his heavier stuff from the top to the studio Jackson and I had on the ground floor. He’s in ill health, and going up the stairs makes him winded and dizzy so he decided to move down. I know he’s having a tough time of it up in Thornhill. To help with the costs, Lismer and his family moved in with them, but they’ve gone on to Halifax. Jim’s wife Joan, doesn’t like it in Thornhill and wants to move back to be closer to church.

In the afternoon, I stretched some  canvases and looked through my sketches trying to decide what to paint. I have some good ones from the log run down the Petawawa in late September. The colours were turning in the hills, making a nice balance with the logs in the water. I may try some ideas from Seurat – instead of mixing the colours on the palette, I’ll keep them separate when I paint and let the mind mix them into the right colours.

I wrote letters to my brothers George and Fraser.