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As I look back on the body of work that I've painted over the years, a common theme seems to be emerging. I am drawn to paint a lot of canoes, or the environment that one canoes in. There is just something about the serenity of such places that finds the very rhythm in my soul.

In the summer of 2004 I got to spend a few hours at Pine Lake in the Muskoka Lake chain, a couple of hours north of Toronto. My brother George and his wife have a cottage on that beautiful lake and I was able to savour an inspirational sunset as we had supper on their porch that evening. Carolyn had taken a few photographs for me as I didn't have my camera with me. I hoped to find a painting from those images. She'd send them out to British Columbia when they were processed. When the collection of photos arrived, there was one that I hadn't seen her take. The old canoe tied to the dock sat with such serene dignity. It dared me to accept the challenge. I had to paint it.

Carolyn had told me the story of this very old cedar strip canoe. Its canvas skin and aged woods had been pampered and cared for over the years, and each summer the canoe was used with an appropriate reverence on that beautiful lake. Perhaps 100 years old, this canoe has such a history. How many sunsets has it seen? How many casual excursions around the lake has it traveled? How many fish have been caught from its wicker seats? How many have paddled quietly in its warm embrace? How many paddlers has this old canoe outlived? Though silent in its stately presence, the canoe whispers history as it rests on the calm waters of the lake.

These old canoes are creations of such beauty; one can gain enjoyment just by just sitting and looking at them. If you sit long enough, and listen for its whispered tones, you'll be able to hear its story. You'll be able to feel the history and sense the cadence of the passing of the seasons. Lost in the moment, and in the presence of the canoe itself, you'll somehow become aware of the voices of the past. You'll be able to hear the laughter, feel the warmth of a thousand sunsets, or the gentle glide as the canoe plies the waters of its familiar waters. In its very presence, you'll experience the times and history of that proud canoe that I've named - "OLDTIMER".



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