Archiv für September 2018

Das Grab von Tom Thomson – oder?

Kanada liegt nicht nur an drei Meeren, sondern hat noch eine riesige vierte Küstenlinie im Inneren – auch wenn Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron und Lake Superior trotz ihrer gigantischen Größe keine Meere, sondern „nur“ Seen sind.

Gemälde The West Wind
The West Wind – Gemälde von Tom Thomson

An der Georgian Bay, einer Ausbuchtung des Lake Huron, liegt der kleine Ort Leith, in dem der wohl bedeutendste Maler Kanadas, Tom Thomson, aufgewachsen ist und nach seinem tragischen Tod – nach Angaben der Familie – auch bestattet wurde.

Bildnis Tom Thomson
Porträt Tom Thomson, unbekannter Fotograf

Als wir im August das Grab aufsuchten, fanden wir es mit vielen „Devotionalien“ geschmückt: Portraits von Tom Thomson, Pinsel, Farben, einer Flasche Rotwein, kleinen Steinen und auch einem Wanderstock. Wir legten eine Euro-Münze als Gruß aus dem fernen Europa dazu.

Grabstein für Tom Thomson
Grabstein für Tom Thomson in Leith

Wasser spielte für Tom Thomson eine besondere Rolle, denn er war nicht nur ein genialer Maler sondern auch ein begeisterter Angler und Paddler, der sich oft wochenlang allein in der Wildnis aufhielt, wo er natürlich auch malte. Besonders viel Zeit verbrachte er am Canoe Lake im Alonquin Park.

Canoe Lake - Foto Ryan Hodnet
Canoe Lake – Foto von Ryan Hodnet

Tom Thomson Cabin
Hütte/Studio von Tom Thomson – Replik in Kleinburg, Ontario

Cabin interior
Blick ins Innere der Hütte

Viele der Ölskizzen, die Tom Thomson später im Atelier als Grundlage für seine Gemälde nutzte, entstanden auf seinen Paddeltouren über abgelegene Seen in Ontario.

Ölskizze Artist's Camp, Canoe Lake Algonquin Park
Artist’s Camp, Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park – Ölskizze von Tom Thomson

Es sind mit kräftigem Strich und leuchtenden Farben gemalte Landschaften mit Flüssen, Seen, die umgebenden Ufer, Berge und Wälder und einem oft dramatischen Himmel.

Ölskizze Bateux
Bateux – Ölskizze von Tom Thomson

Ölskizze Autumn Foliage
Fall Foliage – Ölskizze von Tom Thomson

Die Arbeiten von Tom Thomsons und die seiner Malerfreunde aus der späteren „Group of Seven“ begründeten die eigenständige kanadische Landschaftsmalerei.

Gemälde Summer Shore
Summer Shore – Gemälde von Tom Thomson

Die zeitgenössische Fotografie kanadischer Landschaften, wie wir sie aus Bildbänden, von Kalendern oder aus dem Internet kennen, folgt oft – bewusst oder unbewusst – den Motiven und Impressionen der kanadischen Maler des frühen 20. Jahrhunderts wie Tom Thomson, den Mitgliedern der Group of Seven oder auch Emily Carr.

Gemälde The Jack Pine
Jack Pine – Gemälde von Tom Thomson

After Sunset
Nach Sonnenuntergang– à la Tom Thomson?

Glücklicherweise sind viele der Arbeiten dieser Maler in öffentlichen Museen zu sehen, wie in Toronto, Ottawa, Kleinburg, Vancouver.

Bilder in der Kunstsammlung McMichael in Kleinburg
Bilder in der McMichael Canadian Art Collection – Kleinburg, Ontario

In der Stadt Owen Sound – in der Nähe des kleinen Ortes Leith – besuchten wir die Tom Thomson Art Gallery, die sich hauptsächlich dem Leben und Werk des Künstlers widmet.

Tom Thomson Gallery
Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound

Büste von Tom Thomson-Brend Wainman Goulet
Tom Thomson – Büste von Brend Wainman Goulet

Tom Thomson wurde leider nur 39 Jahre alt, da er vor 101 Jahren beim Paddeln über den Canoe Lake im Algonquin Park ums Leben kam.

Tom Thomson im Kanu
Tom Thomson im Kanu, unbekannter Fotograf

Thomsons Tod hat seither zahlreiche Wissenschaftler, Journalisten und Amateurdetektive beschäftigt. Manche Autoren vermuten, dass er ermordet wurde. Das konnte bisher aus vielerlei Gründen nicht aufgeklärt werden. Sowohl Nachfahren aus Thomsons Familie als auch die Behörden Ontarios weigern sich, DNA-Tests an einem Leichnam machen zu lassen. Dieser wurde vor 60 Jahren neben einem Friedhof am Canoe Lake gefunden, und es gibt schlüssige Indizien, dass dies Tom Thomsons Überreste sind.

Gedenktafel in Leith
Gedenktafel für Tom Thomson in Leith

Ein kürzlich publiziertes Buch von John Little über den Tod von Tom Thomson liefert neue Gründe, die zumindest zweifelhafte offizielle Todesursache des bedeutendsten Malers Kanadas neu zu untersuchen.

posted by Wolfgang Opel

What we found in The Pas …

… or Paskoyak, Basquiaw, The Paw, Opaskwayak

Deutsche Version hier

We had a tight schedule, a long way to go and not much time left, therefore we did not plan to visit the Sam Waller Museum in The Pas. But then, when we could not find Christ Church, which is an important historic building of the town, we still went into the museum to ask. Which meant that we stayed another 2 hours in that small town in Western Manitoba – and learned a lot more.

Christ Church on a rainy day
The Christ Church in The Pas on a rainy day

For centuries, members of the Cree First Nation lived here, mainly hunting and fishing.
What is known in Europe about this place began with the then 19 year-old Henry Kelsey, probably the first non-indigenous who travelled the area when scouting the country for fur trading opportunities with indigenous people for his employer, the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). He wintered here in 1690. Kelsey, who worked many years for the HBC, had learned several indigenous languages. The long time lost journal of his expedition was discovered in Ireland in 1926.

Erinnerung an Henry Kelsey in The Pas
Memento for Henry Kelsey in The Pas

Half a century later, Montreal explorer Pierre Gaultier de La Verendrye and his sons explored much of the area which is now Manitoba. Here at the Saskatchewan River, they built the trading post Fort Paskoyak in 1743, but it operated only until the mid-1750s.

Ausschnitt aus Hearnes Karte
Detail of a map by Samuel Hearne

In 1774, the Hudson’s Bay Company sent Samuel Hearne, to establish their first inland trading post „at a site known as Basquia“ on the banks of the Saskatchewan River. Since Hearne found little suitable timber here, and because the local Cree people convinced him that there would be a more favourable place upstream, he finally built the post Cumberland House on Cumberland Lake. It lies – as the crow flies – only 60 km away from The Pas. On the Saskatchewan River, it might have meant about 100 km of rowing upriver. Today, although Cumberland House has road access now, from The Pas this is a 320 km drive one-way, mostly on a very rough gravel road. For us, this would have meant about 10 additional hours round trip by car … hopefully we can visit this historically significant place next time?“

Sir John Richardson
Sir John Richardson, painting by Stephen Pearce – © National Portrait Gallery, London

Cumberland House was an important station for the Rae Richardson Expedition on their long way to learn about the fate of the lost Franklin Expedition – travelling overland to the Great Slave Lake, then on the Mackenzie River, finally tracing the coast between the Mackenzie and Coppermine rivers, as well as the shores of Victoria Island and the Wollaston Peninsula.
To make sure that sufficient equipment and provisions were available for this long journey, an advance expedition, consisting of 20 skilled men and four big boats with additional supplies, left England already in 1847. Via Hudson Strait und Hudson Bay, these men reached Hudson’s Bay station Cumberland House, where they spent the winter.

John Rae
John Rae, painting by Stephen Pearce – © National Portrait Gallery, London

During that winter, when mainly fishing and cutting firewood, these men were probably not fully stretched – and here Sa-ka-cha-wes’cam („Going Up the Hill“) comes into the game, a young Cree, baptized and christened Henry Budd. He started as a farmer, but soon dedicated his life to the temporal and spiritual development of the indigenous community; he was ordained as the first indigenous priest of the Anglican Church in North America.

Memorial in der Christ Church
Memorial in the Christ Church, The Pas

In 1840, Henry Budd, with his family, moved to Paskoyac, because he was sent to establish a mission station with the Cree people there.
Soon numerous Cree children attended his school lessons. He also started a garden to improve food supplies for the community. In 1844, he was joined by the white Reverend James Hunter, who, however, received twice as much salary as Budd.

The Pas in a contemporary drawing
The Pas in a contemporary drawing

For the interior of the mission’s church, there was active help by the relief expedition of Rae and Richardson from the „neighboring“ Cumberland House. These skilled craftsmen, among them Robert McKie and James McLaren, built pews, railing, pulpit, baptismal font, prayer desk and tablets.

Kirchenbaenke
Interior of the Christ Church

When we finally found the Christ Church in The Pas we were surprised to learn that this artful furniture still adorns the church today, although now restored and in a renovated building. Here, for the first time we could see the 10 commandments printed in the syllabics of the Cree, in the translation of Sakachewescam alias Henry Budd. He has also translated hymns and parts of the Bible into Cree.

Henry Budds Übersetzung der 10 Gebote
The 10 Commandments in Cree Syllabics

We were even more surprised when we learned that Rae and Richardson had been here themselves. Launched in March 1848 in Liverpool, they reached New York in April and shortly thereafter Montreal. A crew of Iroquois and Chippewa eventually brought them to Cumberland House. In the diary of the famous Canadian painter Paul Kane under the date June 12, 1848, the entry reads: „We arrived at the Paw (sic!) where my old friend, Mr. Hunter, … gave me a most hearty welcome … We met here Sir John Richardson and Dr. Rae, en route to Mackenzie River with two canoes in search of Sir John Franklin.“ No doubt, this must have been an interesting encounter!

Kane - Brigade of Boats Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum © ROM
„Brigade of Boats“, oil on canvas, 1849-1856; by Paul Kane (1810 Mallow, Ireland–1871 Toronto, Canada) – Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum, © ROM

It gets even better: Sir John Franklin himself, too, had a personal relationship with today’s The Pas. On the overland Expedition of 1819, he traveled on the Saskatchewan River and wintered in Cumberland House.

Karte - Franklins Route nach Cumberland House
Map of Franklin’s journey to Cumberland House

He also came here on the way there and back on the expedition 1825-1827. He had seen the Cree settlement Opaskwayak already in 1819, and later he recommended to the Church Missionary Society (CMS) to establish a mission here – which ultimately led to the establishment of the „Devon Mission“ by Sakachewescam alias Henry Budd.

Sonnenuhr
Sundial, sent by Lady Franklin – © Sam Waller Museum

Franklin was impressed by this small „island of civilization“ in the wilderness, and his wife, Lady Jane Franklin, later sent a valuable gift to the Devon Mission (today’s Christ Church): a brass sundial. This sundial had its place in the small Devon Park in front of the church for a long time. But vandalism made it necessary to move it into the Museum — where it is now, safe and on permanent exhibit.

commemorative plaque
Commemorative plaque in the church

posted by Mechtild Opel




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