It was now getting well into September and sketching outdoors was chilly. Rody Courtice had joined us. She and I decided to climb up through the forest to a rocky open place where we could see the lake beyond the thickly wooded area. The sky was a dull grey backdrop and we were not inspired. After trying several sketchbook compositions with no enthusiasm we started to pack up and give up for the day. As Rody put her things together she found a tiny bottle of gin in her paintbox. We drank it, then Rody had an inspiration and said, “Let’s build a still life, a Lawren Harris.” We dragged a dead, bare small tree trunk and some branches onto the bare rock and propped them up with logs and rocks that were lying near us. We made quite an interesting composition and as a few snowflakes came drifting down we opened our paintboxes and set to work with shamefaced amusement and enthusiasm. We worked hard and fast and though cold we were rather pleased with ourselves; the day had not been entirely wasted.
Both of us did large canvases from these bogus sketches and when I last spoke to Rody just before she died I said, “That was pretty disgraceful wasn’t it?” She smiled and said, “And worse still we sold them.”
—Yvonne McKague Housser, North Shore of Lake Superior, 1934/1980 (via jacquelinepines)
Ken Lum, I Said No, 2010
Unknown Thule (Pre-Inuit) artist
Figurine, c. 1250-1300
From the Canadian History Museum:
About a thousand years ago the Northern Hemisphere experienced a few centuries of relatively warm climate. Arctic sea ice diminished in extent, navigation became easier in the high latitudes, and two maritime-oriented peoples were attracted to arctic Canada. From the west came the ancestors of the Inuit, a people whose way of life had been developed along the bountiful coasts of Alaska. Travelling in large skin-covered boats in summer and by dogsled in winter, they rapidly occupied most regions of arctic Canada. From the east came the Norse, who established colonies in southwestern Greenland and made at least occasional voyages to the adjacent coasts of northeastern Canada. The meeting of these two peoples is recorded in the small wooden figure at left, carved from driftwood and found in the remains of an early Inuit house on Baffin Island. The featureless face and stumpy arms are characteristic of Inuit carvings of the period, but this figure is unique in portraying a person in European dress; lightly incised lines indicate the folds of a long robe and an apparent cross on the chest. The Norseman portrayed here may have come ashore on Baffin Island to trade with the Inuit. Such trade is suggested by scraps of metal, cloth and hardwood of European origin found in Inuit houses of the period. In return, the Inuit may have traded walrus ivory, a material that the Norse valued and that the Inuit had in abundance, even using it to manufacture many of their tools.