Archive for the ‘Memoirs’ Category

Feb. 14, 2015: This quote is from today’s Globe and Mail:

“Toronto police are investigating the recent theft of three paintings from the University of Toronto, including one by the 18th-century Italian master Francesco Guardi, two of whose works have sold for tens of millions of dollars at auction in the last four years.
At this stage, police believe the thefts, done between Jan. 30 and Feb. 10, are likely the work of the same person, a spokesperson said Friday. The Guardi, a Venetian view painting titled Church of Santa Maria della Salute, was taken from Trinity College on a date a Trinity official declined to reveal Friday. The others – Morning at Peggy’s Cove by William E. deGarthe and Credit River by Yee Bon – were removed on, respectively, Feb. 3 and the Feb. 7-8 weekend from Victoria University, according to Gillian Pearson, curator of the collection. In each instance, the thief or thieves left the painting’s frame behind.”

I have a painting of Peggy’s Cove right inside my front door (in the so-called “foyer.”) My painting of Peggy’s Cove is by deGarthe.
The provenance of this painting is as follows.

Back in the old days (1962-3?) when the Thorncliffe Marketplace was young and new, and so was Thorncliffe Park itself, my cousin Libby (Elizabeth Smith, daughter of uncle Kenneth M. Smith) opened an art store in the Thorncliffe Marketplace (indoor shopping centre.) She sold art supplies, and original paintings. She had attended what is now OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design) and was herself a very gifted artist. Someday I will post the pencil drawing she did of me before I was even a teenager. My best guess would be that this store adventure was when my daughter Anne was a new baby that I pushed to the mall in her carriage. But I digress.

Uncle Ken wanted to see his daughter succeed in her art store business, and so he somehow facilitated the visit of the artist Wm.deGarthe to Toronto to be (briefly) the ‘artist in residence’ while Libby was his agent in Toronto, displaying and selling his paintings from her store. DeGarthe painted a lot in Nova Scotia (I have never looked up his bio) which may have been why Uncle Ken was enamored of his work. (My Mother and all her siblings were born in Halifax.)

Being a new mom on a budget, and having retired (pregnant women teachers were required to quit their teaching jobs – I had lost my contract!) with no income of my own, I drooled over the paintings that I could not afford. One day Uncle Ken was in the store when I was there, looking around and (I must confess) fondling some of the paintings. I had been to Peggy’s Cove with my parents on our Nova Scotia trip, which I think was in 1950 (IIRC!) I’d fallen in love with Peggy’s Cove, and deGarthe’s paintings captured the seaside atmosphere perfectly. That day, Uncle Ken bought a deGarthe painting for me as a gift, and I have treasured it ever since (because of all the back-story which I have just related.)

So today I opened The Globe and Mail and found one of his paintings has been stolen, from Victoria College’s library! I don’t remember a deGarthe in the Vic Library when I was a Vic student, but the article this morning tells the reader that Vic received the painting as a bequest. I do know that this painting of mine has some value, but not much. DeGarthe was a second-rank Canadian painter in the larger scheme of things.That is, he was no Tom Thomson. But he WAS Canadian and that was enough for me. My painting (framed for me by cousin Libby) is 16 cm by 21 cm. Not worth a lot, but something. Maybe $500. Since I know what it cost Uncle Ken ($45), I would say the painting has appreciated quite nicely.

But most importantly, I enjoy my painting as much for the story of how it came to live with me as much as I appreciate having ‘Peggy’s Cove in the fog’ living in my home. I have been to Peggy’s Cove three times, and so I love my painting just for the memories of “Peggy’s” that it creates. My painting may have a title but I can’t see it. When Libby framed it for me, she covered the entire back of the painting with protective paper. So I just refer to it as ‘my Peggy’s Cove painting’ or as ‘my deGarthe.’ The painting is a little over 50 years old now. I have enjoyed it every day of that half-century. I hope that somewhere, deGarthe is glad that people still enjoy his work.

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It’s Earth Day.

Also, as long as I live, I will remember that today is my mother Madeline’s birthday. If still alive, she would be 104 years old today.

She was born on this day in 1910, in this house: 102 Oxford St., Halifax, NS. The house was completed and the family moved in, only 3 weeks before her birth. The house has a different street number now because Halifax re-numbered the street some years ago.

My Nana Jean (Dumaresq) Smith, her husband Nelson Baker Smith, and her growing family (Madeline was the first girl after 4 boys had been born) needed this big house, which had been designed by Sydney Dumaresq, Jean’s brother. His family architecture firm still exists in Halifax today, and the house still stands too. Cousin Debbie and I visited it during our 2007 trip to Halifax.

Happy Earth Day!


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A cool but fun week in August. Miss Lily, Anne, ML and I had a great time.
Lily was so happy, especially because she had some playmates for the week. We had three dogs with us: Anne’s two pugs and my dog Spike.
One shot here is of the lock at Port Severn (part of the Trent-Severn waterway.)
Other photos are of the lake (Huron) and water activities. The sunsets are wonderful at this location.
The cottage faces west, but there is a small barrier island opposite the cottage, and the sun sets behind that.
It’s always beautiful!


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Nasty weather

August 13, 2013

It’s a chilly and nasty day in cottage country. A cold and very grey morning drove us into town for a little shopping and some lunch. The rain started as we were eating, and has been on and off ever since. It feels like mid-October!
Visited Giant Tiger and bought some stuff there. Anne and Lily decided to join some friends from the cottage at a matinee movie at the Midland cinema. ML and I made it back to the cottage by 4pm, and I let the dogs out for a pee break. Now it’s nap time and Anne and Lily are unlikely to return before 6:30 pm- if then. They could easily wind up having a fast food dinner in Midland before returning to the cottage. Too cloudy/rainy to see any meteor shower tonight. It sure is cold here this afternoon and will be much colder tonight. Brrr- it’s late October in August!

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It’s Day 2 of our family vacation at the cottage resort. This is the 6th year I have rented this same cottage. Lily was a baby when we first came here!

One of the things I love about this cottage is that it faces due west. Our windows look out over an inlet near Honey Harbour. We get beautiful sunsets every night. As the evening wears on, various cottagers start up their campfires in the firepits that dot the property. Don’t you love the scent of a good campfire?

We are sad this year that a local lodge has gone into receivership. In all our previous summers here, we have enjoyed a fun lunch out at that lodge. It is old, probably 80 years, and I think the folks who could have afforded its pricey rooms have moved on to swankier places. I always enjoyed visiting the lodge’s gift shop, which was stocked with sportswear as well as gifts, games, cards, and other touristy stuff. We drove by today, and it was sad to see the place looking unloved and unoccupied.
However,Miss Lily is having a ball with the other vacationing kids here, and they race around the property with glee.
If it rains, the kids collapse in front of the TV and silence reigns.

We look forward to this holiday partly for the food. The village market stocks freshly picked local corn, and we buy it daily for our cottage dinners. Along with local tomatoes, and freshly baked cheese bread from the village bakery, we sure do eat well!

Each summer holiday here we try to do a day trip to a place we have never been. In our first year here, we tripped to the Big Chute Marine Railway.
(google that for pix) It was fascinating to see large yachts being raised up a whole level. This is a part of the Trent Severn waterway, which boaters use to get from Lake Huron to Lake Ontario, without going the long way via Lake St Clair, Lake Erie, and the Welland Canal.
In other summers we have visited small towns that dot this part of Huronia, and have enjoyed their local shops and restaurants.
Tonight is a clear night and we are hoping to see some shooting stars, as it is the first night of the Perseid Meteor shower. I’ll let you know next time if we have had any success!

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Convocation Hall, University of Toronto, May 31.

Convocation Hall, University of Toronto, May 31.

He was my 3rd year English professor.

He was my 3rd year English professor. Photo taken on June 1. Statue is located on the campus of Victoria College, U of T.

This weekend of activities designed to celebrate the passage of 55 years since our graduation from U of T has brought back a lot of memories. It also was an occasion to meet old friends. We were the first people to see the new renovations and addition to Wymilwood, the student centre at Vic. The new Wymilwood is the beneficiary of big donations from the Goldring family who have been huge supporters of Vic.

The original Wymilwood was designed by famed architect Eric Arthur, and some of his greatest achievements have been preserved. The handsome staircase in Wymilwood that we all love and remember has been kept. Yay for that!

Our class, Vic 5T8, was the very first group to see the renewed and enlarged Wymilwood. We were honored – and we also were the very first to be served a meal (excellent) in the new cafeteria.
Getting my photo taken with (the statue of) Northrop Frye, my (famous) English professor, was a highlight of the weekend. But I did enjoy getting up in Convocation Hall to have my new medal (“55 years!”) draped around my neck.

Vic’s song:
The Old Ontario Strand is the traditional song of Victoria College
1. O my father sent me to Victoria
And resolved I do the best I can
And so I settled down in a quiet college town
On the Old Ontario Strand.

2. At first they used me rather roughly
As I the fearful gauntlet ran,
They tossed me all about, and they turned me inside out
On the Old Ontario Strand.

Chorus: On the Old Ontario Strand, my friends
Where Victoria ever more shall stand,
For has she not stood since the time of the flood
On the Old Ontario Strand

3. Now don’t forget the theologians,
For they’re the finest in the land,
And with a little leaven
They will send us all to heaven
On the Old Ontario Strand.


4. Then sing aloud to Alma Mater
And keep the scarlet in the van
For with our colors high, Vic’s name shall never die
On the Old Ontario Strand.


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from Wikipedia:

RCAF Station St Hubert was a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) base in the Montreal area. It became part of CFB Montreal upon the unification of the Canadian Forces in 1968. In its heyday as an operational Air Force Station, it was host to two CF 100 All Weather Fighter Squadrons, and two Air Force Reserve Sabre squadrons, in addition to being the host station to RCAF Air Defence Command Headquarters. The building later served as the Mobile Command Headquarters site until the base was decommissioned by the Canadian Forces in the mid 1990s. The airport remains in use as Montréal/Saint-Hubert Airport.

I was in the RCAF Reserves during the time that I was a university student. I spent my second RCAF summer (1956) stationed at St Hubert, Quebec, where I enjoyed easy access to downtown Montreal (as well as my military duties, of course!) I wrote the following in another blog post, My Military Career, Pt 2

“As my exams ended, the air force came though with my summer posting. I was sent to Quebec! My good friend Judy W., who was a lifelong friend of mine, and had gone through basic training with me, was also sent to the same station. How lucky could we get? On an early June evening, we boarded a train to Montreal, and the next day arrived at our summer posting, the RCAF’s Combat Operations Centre, at St. Hubert, Quebec. The COC was the heart and soul of Air Defence Command. The base itself, located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, across from Montreal, was also an active flying base. The jets were CF100 fighters, and our barracks were very close to the flight line. We soon become accustomed to the sound of jets taking off and landing (they were deafening!) and eventually could sleep through anything. The base post office, a tiny shack, was located right beside the flight line, and to get one’s mail, one had to go to the edge of the flight line, no matter if the planes were taking off, and the decibel level was off the scale. It was kind of thrilling. We never thought about the permanent damage that probably was occurring in our ears.”

~ You can read more about my ‘military career’ by searching my blog using the search term “military” (without the quotation marks, of course.) Today’s post was triggered by reading a reference to St Hubert online.

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