Camera (Photographs)

Cape Dorset Walkabout

Follow the Yellow (make that ochre) Dirt Roads

I visited the Canadian Arctic for the first time in May, 2014. After a day in Iqaluit (Nunavut's capital) I flew to Cape Dorset (pop. approx 1300) at the southern tip of Baffin Island. 

Although the landscape surrounding Cape Dorset is stunning, it was the ochre ribbon-like roads looping through the hamlet, and the constant activity on them, that intrigued me most.  Most people walk or drive ATVs (skidoos in winter) to socialize, shop and work. There are few larger vehicles, but the school bus seems always on the go, as are the trucks that deliver fresh water and empty the septic tanks. Thus my first steps out on the town (well, hamlet) were a delightful contrast to my city experience, where the roads are hectic and the sidewalks empty.

The hope and promise of Cape Dorset is represented in it's wonderful children. Photo: ©Christine Montague www.christinemontague.com

The hope and promise of Cape Dorset is represented in it's wonderful children. Photo: ©Christine Montague www.christinemontague.com

Next to my hotel (Dorset Suites), and across from Tellik Inlet, is the world-renowned Kinngait Arts Studio, the oldest printing studio in Canada.  The distinctive red-roofed, green and yellow buildings (seen below), have been around since 1957. This summer (2017) work has begun on the new cultural centre and studios. To see larger images please click on the photos below. 

Panoramic view of Kinngait Arts and kellit bay, Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague 2014

Panoramic view of Kinngait Arts and kellit bay, Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague 2014

Below:Tellik Inlet by Kinngait Arts. Turn right to go to the two grocery and supply stores, and the RCMP station. Turn left to find the Wildlife Office, the municipal pier, and the gazebo on the hill.

Christine-Montague-tellik-inlet-1
Christine-Montague-tellik-inlet-1

The gazebo, seen from most vantage points of the hamlet, is an unusual landmark for such a northern community, but, hey, I loved it. A sheltered bit of architecture, where I could start each day and take in the glorious landscape. In the picture below, you can spot the gazebo above the Wildlife Office (the building on the left ). Click on the picture below to see a larger image

Wildlife Dept.building.  Cape Dorset. Photo:Christine Montague
Wildlife Dept.building. Cape Dorset. Photo:Christine Montague
Huge. and I mean,  huge , polar bear skin dries on stretcher. Photo: ©Christine Montague 2014

Huge. and I mean, huge, polar bear skin dries on stretcher. Photo: ©Christine Montague 2014

The polar bear hide seen above was huge. I mean hair-raising, goose bump inspiring big. I wish I had thought to put my hand or iPhone by a paw for reference.

Meanwhile, on the same day I happily arrived in Cape Dorset,  a polar bear attacked two Arctic Bay hunters as they slept in their tent.  They survived, but only after a fight for their lives. For a dramatic account of the attack, and some equally dramatic polar bear facts, read http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674nunavut_polar_bear_attack_survivors_thankful_to_be_alive/

I love polar bears, and my polar bear paintings are portraiture tributes to these great mammals whose future is of concern. But up north? One can never forget these beautiful, intelligent, powerful kings of the arctic are dangerous.

Big Bear Passing (48" by 36" polar bear oil painting by Christine Montague )

Big Bear Walking  . polar bear painting ©Christine Montague

Big Bear Walking. polar bear painting ©Christine Montague

So, up the hill to the gazebo.

Up to the gazebo. Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Up to the gazebo. Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Gazebo. Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Gazebo. Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Looking down at pier on Tellik Inlet from gazebo. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Looking down at pier on Tellik Inlet from gazebo. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Kinngait mountain as seen from the gazebo. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Kinngait mountain as seen from the gazebo. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

 Below. Snowmobilers travel on frozen Tellik Inlet to get to open water beyond.

Inuit hunters head out on the land. As seen from the gazebo in Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague www.christinemontague.com

Inuit hunters head out on the land. As seen from the gazebo in Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague www.christinemontague.com

Christine-Montague-cape-dorset-gazebo-view_edited-1
Christine-Montague-cape-dorset-gazebo-view_edited-1

I was forewarned to expect roads thick with mud, but they were dry and solid. Later in summer, when the roads become too dry, passing ATVs and the odd car send up clouds of pervasive dust. But for now, as it was the first week of sunny, cheery weather, children, especially boys, were out on their bikes, pedalling uphill with admirable ease.

Bicyclist in Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Bicyclist in Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague

To be continued...

Note: I use a Sony A7r with 35mm Zeiss lens.  iPhone 5s was my back up. 

On to Cape Dorset, Nunavut

On to Cape Dorset

The great expanse between Iqaluit & Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague   www.christinemontague.com

The great expanse between Iqaluit & Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague www.christinemontague.com

In late May 2014, I travelled from my home in the Greater Toronto Area (pop. 8,000,000+) to the Canadian arctic. I flew first to Baffin Island in Nunavut, the largest and northernmost territory of Canada. I stayed overnight in Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital, and had a good look at that city's public art (Read Brush with Beauty: Part Iand Brush with Beauty: Part 2.).   But my true destination was Cape Dorset, on Dorset Island, near the Foxe Peninsula and on the Hudson Strait.

Cape Dorset (map https://goo.gl/maps/Ycjoz) is an Inuit community of about 1300 people (our local high school has more people). The Inuktitut name for Cape Dorset is Kinngait (high mountain) as the hamlet sits by the magnificent Kinngait mountain range.

Cape Dorset is the self-proclaimed "capital of Inuit art" and home to the world-renowned Kinngait Studios, the oldest professional printmaking studios in Canada. It is the most artistic community in Canada with over one fifth of the population employed in the arts (printing and carving). Walk the streets, and it is guaranteed you will meet carvers, either at work in their yard, or on their way to Kinngait Studios to sell the work they've completed.

Reaching Cape Dorset

Cape Dorset, on Dorset Island, can only be reached by plane, or when the ice breaks up by ship.  The turbo-prop planes of Canada North Air and First Air make the daily flight in (there may have been a merger since I first wrote this?) . Below is a Google satellite view of the hamlet and runway. The narrow grey bar on the right is the small Cape Dorset runway.  To the left of the runway, are the few roads of Cape Dorset, about 4 kilometres worth.

The airplane will only take one try to approach the runway and will return to Iqaluit if unsuccessful.  This means sudden fog, snow, and winds blowing in the wrong direction (wouldn't be good to be pushed back into the sea!) can result in the return to Iqaluit.

The Infamous Green Sticker

As a newbie to travel in the north, I didn't know to look for the infamous green sticker on my boarding pass.  The green sticker, for that is exactly what it is,  indicates the airline is not responsible for any expenses occurred when, if turned back, one  waits for the next day's flight (or the next day's flight after that, or the next day's flight after that...).

Google satellite view of the runway in Cape Dorset.
Google satellite view of the runway in Cape Dorset.

On the late May morning I made the flight to Dorset, I and the other three passengers seated in the sun-filled plane, thought the very personable steward was joking when, as we began our descent to the Cape Dorset runway, he announced we were turning back. Ha, ha, ha...no, wait, you're serious?! 

A sudden snow squall below made landing risky.

The others on the plane, regular travellers to the north, wildly looked at their boarding passes and proclaimed gleefully "No green stickers!".  And with relief,  I saw there was no green sticker on my boarding pass either.

Back in Iqaluit, my good fortune held. The other airline had room for me on their flight that day, and to the relief of the young clerk who had originally assigned me my pass without the sticker, I happily declined the hotel and food vouchers.

How can you not love the north?!! It gets in your blood immediately. ©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-plane-blog-3

How can you not love the north?!! It gets in your blood immediately. ©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-plane-blog-3

Approaching Dorset Island. Photo: Christine Montague   www.christinemontague.com

Approaching Dorset Island. Photo: Christine Montague  www.christinemontague.com

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-landing-blog-3

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-landing-blog-3

Landing...  Photo Copyright ©Christine Montague 

Landing...  Photo Copyright ©Christine Montague 

Down! My first gravel runway. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Down! My first gravel runway. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

I like small planes and found landing at Dorset exciting. Like the roads, the runway is not paved, so the surface is rougher. And the wind pushes the plane. I have never been on a flight where the plane wagged (the only word I could think of) as it came to a stop. 

I am a big city girl who always flies out of Pearson International Airport. Pearson is Canada's largest airport, second only in activity to the JFK Airport in the USA.  In 2013, it handled over 36 million passengers. It  directly employs almost as many people who live in Cape Dorset and if you include all the other employees at the airport,  you have 40times Dorset's population). So, I found it a memorable and favourable experience to disembark a 20 seat plane, have my large luggage in hand, and be on the road to the hotel in about 5 minutes.

My first view of Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague

My first view of Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset

Cape Dorset Walk About

I shot the photos above about 6 p.m. shortly after I arrived in town. (FYI Nunavut uses EDT in the summer and EST in the winter). The skies were overcast, as they had been apparently for days before my arrival.

But when I stepped out the door early the next morning, the weather was glorious!  Since my itinerary was to consist mostly of me exploring and photographing the hamlet, alone and on foot, what more could I have asked?!

Approaching the road from the entrance of Dorset Suites. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Approaching the road from the entrance of Dorset Suites. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

So that first morning, glove and care free, and my Sony a7Rin hand (my iPhone 5S camera served as backup), I turned right at the road towards Kinngait Studios, and the water beyond. 

Walking Around Iqaluit, Nunavut: Qikiqtani Hospital Mural

In 2014 I had the good fortune to spend a day in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada, before heading off to the smaller northern Arctic community of Cape Dorset. In my walk around Iqaluit's city centre, art was everywhere. The mural at Qikiqtani General Hospital is a joyous, colourful celebration of the north created under the theme of "Come Together". Created by Iqaluit artist Jonathan Cruz, his  NuSchool Design Agency team, guest artists and community members.

Mural at  Qikiqtani General Hospital . Iqaluit. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Mural at Qikiqtani General Hospital. Iqaluit. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Detail. Mural. Qikiqtani General Hospital . Iqaluit. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Detail. Mural. Qikiqtani General Hospital. Iqaluit. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Artist Jonathan Cruz  created the beautiful tribute to mothers and children above, inspired by Sula Enuaraq and her two young daughters. Jonathan, has Greater Toronto Area roots including studies at Sheridan College.  Learn more about this  artist designer , illustrator, youth mentor and entrepreneur here.

Whale Detail. Mural Qikiqtani General Hospital . Photo: Christine Montague

Whale Detail. Mural Qikiqtani General Hospital. Photo: Christine Montague

Jonathan Cruz, Alexa Hatanaka, and Patrick Thompsoncollaborated to create the Bowhead whale mural above.

Faces. Mural. Qikiqtani General Hospital. Iqaluit. Photo: Christine Montague
Faces. Mural. Qikiqtani General Hospital. Iqaluit. Photo: Christine Montague

For Smiling Faces (above), Gene Pendon of Montreal was the guest artist. The community laid down the layers of base colours.  Artist, designer and NuSchool employee, Patrick Beland, coordinated the youth who worked on the mural, and taught them safety guidelines for spray paint.

To read more about the Smiling Faces phase of the mural please read here 

Kamatik (sled). Mural. Qikiqtani General Hospital. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Kamatik (sled). Mural. Qikiqtani General Hospital. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Polar Bear. Mural. Qikiqtani general Hospital. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Polar Bear. Mural. Qikiqtani general Hospital. Photo: ©Christine Montague

A Canadian Feast For the Soul - An Arctic Visit to Iqaluit & Cape Dorset

I had the sudden good fortune to travel to Canada's arctic in 2014.  From the Greater Toronto Area (GTA),  I flew first to Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital city on Baffin Island, and after a day's visit, was off to Cape Dorset, a hamlet just over an hour's flight away on Dorset Island. My learning curve about Inuit art and culture, the arctic landscape and environment, and how to travel in the north was steep (as was food and travel expenses), but oh, what a wonderful, worthwhile feast for the eyes and mind.

©Christine-Montague-Iqaluit-panorama

©Christine-Montague-Iqaluit-panorama

Iqaluit

One of the many art showcases in Iqaluit airport.
One of the many art showcases in Iqaluit airport.

With about 7,000 people, Iqaluit is Canada's least populated capital city. It is the only Canadian capital not connected to any other settlement by road.  Travel to Iqaluit is only possible by plane, or if ice conditions permit, by boat.

It is a new city, declared such in 2001 after quickly rising from its status as a settlement (1970),  village (1974), and town (1980).

Iqaluit serves as the gateway to all the Baffin region communities (such as Cape Dorset), as well as to Greenland, Yellowknife,  Northern Quebec, Montreal and Ottawa. So it is only natural, that art about the Inuit culture, history and Nunavut's wildlife is evident the moment one steps off the plane.  

And, yes, like any place that is building a tourism industry,  much of this panders to what tourists want, and expect to see - polar bears, inukshuks, and romanticized Inuit life. But, that doesn't mean it isn't a joy to see, which it was, it's just that I expected to find art representing modern-day life in the north as well (note: this may have changed in the past 3 years).  

Below, is just a sample of what I saw - all in my first hour of strolling through Iqaluit!

Polar on the exterior wall of new office building in Iqaluit, Nuanvut, Canada. ©Christine Montague 

Polar on the exterior wall of new office building in Iqaluit, Nuanvut, Canada. ©Christine Montague 

Iqaluit. Stone Park. Photo ©Christine Montague

Iqaluit. Stone Park. Photo ©Christine Montague

©Christine-Montague-Stone-park-iqaluit-caribou

©Christine-Montague-Stone-park-iqaluit-caribou

©Christine-Montague-Stone-Park-Iqaluit-pipes

©Christine-Montague-Stone-Park-Iqaluit-pipes

©Christine-Montague-Stone-Park-iqaluit-raven_edited-1

©Christine-Montague-Stone-Park-iqaluit-raven_edited-1

©Christine-Montague-Stone-Park-iqaluit-

©Christine-Montague-Stone-Park-iqaluit-

Me, looking self conscious, but spiffy in my newly gifted hat  (made by a textile artist  from Pangnirtung). In front of public sculpture. Created co-operatively by multiple carvers.
Me, looking self conscious, but spiffy in my newly gifted hat (made by a textile artist from Pangnirtung). In front of public sculpture. Created co-operatively by multiple carvers.
Polar bear cubs. Public sculpture. Iqaluit, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Polar bear cubs. Public sculpture. Iqaluit, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Public sculpture. Iqaluit, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Public sculpture. Iqaluit, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Bear and Chairs ourside Igluvut Building. Four corners of Iqaluit. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Bear and Chairs ourside Igluvut Building. Four corners of Iqaluit. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Vertical wood trim like runners of a komatik, the Inuit sled. © Christine Montague

Vertical wood trim like runners of a komatik, the Inuit sled. © Christine Montague

Sign outside the Nunavut government building ©Christine Montague

Sign outside the Nunavut government building ©Christine Montague

The People. The other side of the Nunavut Government sign. Photo: ©Christine Montague

The People. The other side of the Nunavut Government sign. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Nunavet Government Building. Stair railings shaped like kayaks. Perdago over entrance like komatik (sled) runners. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Nunavet Government Building. Stair railings shaped like kayaks. Perdago over entrance like komatik (sled) runners. Photo: ©Christine Montague

"No parking" sign in shape of polar bear. Photo: ©Christine Montague

"No parking" sign in shape of polar bear. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Nunavut Vistas: 10 Panoramic Cape Dorset Landscapes

Inspired by family members who loved working in the Canadian Arctic,  I jumped at the chance to visit the tiny hamlet of Cape Dorset, Nunavut when the opportunity arrived in late spring (May 2014). My trip wouldn't allow time for me to paint, but there was endless opportunity for me to use my camera (new at the time)  the very small, very light, but full frame Sony A7r with a 35mm Zeiss lens. This was also my first camera to have a panoramic feature. It was tempting to make every photo a panoramic one, such was the breadth of the landscape before me.

©Christine Montague photographs of Cape Dorset, Nunavut

©Christine Montague photographs of Cape Dorset, Nunavut

©Christine Montague Cape Dorset in the evening sunlight. 

©Christine Montague Cape Dorset in the evening sunlight. 

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-RCMP-pano

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-RCMP-pano

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-park-pano. 

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-park-pano. 

©christine-cape-cape-dorset-park-pano

©christine-cape-cape-dorset-park-pano

©Christine-Montague-rcmp-pano

©Christine-Montague-rcmp-pano

©Christine-Montague-Gazebo-outside-pano

©Christine-Montague-Gazebo-outside-pano

©Christine-Montague. Kinngait Studios, the famous print shop. Construction begins on the new cultural centre and studios the summer of 2017. 

©Christine-Montague. Kinngait Studios, the famous print shop. Construction begins on the new cultural centre and studios the summer of 2017. 

©Christine-Montague_Cape-Dorset-school-bus. Sadly, for the community, the red and blue high school seen on the left, burnt down. 

©Christine-Montague_Cape-Dorset-school-bus. Sadly, for the community, the red and blue high school seen on the left, burnt down. 

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-Black-Roads-white-water

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-Black-Roads-white-water

Happy Prognosticating Rodent, er, Groundhog Day!

Wiaton Willie Statue, Waiton Ontario Happy Ground Hog Day! That is, if you consider 6 more weeks of winter happy.

Earlier this morning, Wiarton Willie, the prognosticating (my new word for the day) groundhog, immortalized in the statue above, saw his shadow. So did Punxsutawney Phil. So, 6 more weeks of winter ahead for us!

Read more about what Wiarton Willie saw  here . And, for Punxsutawney Phil here .

The verb prognosticate, as you, unlike me,  probably know, means to foretell or prophesy. Prognosticating seems to be the word of the day in this year's articles about Wiarton Willie and Punxsutawney Phil. One source even makes reference to the prognosticating "rodent". "Happy Rodent Day" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Whatever the greeting, it's not hard to believe the prognostications made by our groundhog friends. Last night, the Greater Toronto Area received another huge snow fall - beautiful to behold,  but meant about an hour and a half of shovelling for us at our place.  

I  much prefer the warm breeze, blue sky, and summer sunshine I experienced the day I took the photograph above. "Wiarton Willie", a 4.5 tonnes limestone sculpture by Canadian sculptor, Dave Robinson, stands in a lovely Wiarton park ( www.visitwiarton.ca) at the base of the Bruce Penninsula. The water seen behind the sculpture is Georgian Bay.  The real Wiarton Willie lives nearby, in the library.

But, I prognosticate all this snow has an advantage, too.  It offers me a great excuse to stay inside, blog, and paint.  No procrastination allowed!

Happy, Creative, Ground Hog Day!

 

Doors Open to Amazing Art, Architecture, and Vision

Spoiler alert! Don't look at the interior photographs of the Small Arms Inspection Building below, if you want to be surprised completely at  2013 Doors Open Mississauga art show and WWII related demos Saturday, September 28, 10 am - 4 pm.  small-arms-turquoise-door-window-8433 small-arms-tree-broken-window8452 small-arms-wood-ceiling-8468 small-arms-skylight-IMG_8477 small-arms-garage-door8492 small-arms-cupboard8518 small-arms-man-at-door-8532 small-arms-windows-welding-IMG_8733 small-arms-water-tower-8594 save-as-small-arms--main-room-8651 small-arms-metalIMG_8667 small-arms-dance-studio8552This remarkable 144,000 sq. ft. architecture has a rich history involving the war effort (where the Lee-Enfield Rifle was manufactured) , women's independence, and the revitalization of Lakeview, Mississauga (then Longbranch). It sits empty now, but  is it any wonder that the space, high ceilings, huge windows and skylights,have inspired plans to renovate it as a world-class  arts centre of working artist studios, performance space, art galleries, a museum and coffee shop?

To give you a hint of just how dynamic this centre will be, 30 artists (including myself)  will show and sell their art. My portraits of people and polar bears will be at the end of the hall on the first floor.

Also in the works! Heather Brissenden will sing hits from the Blitz, the Lorne Scots (this was once their home, too) machine gun teams will compete, The Honorary Colonel Gerald Haddon will speak about J.A.D. McCurdy, the Canadian aviation pioneer  and much, much more (really!).

There is plenty of free parking. Just find your way to Lakeshore Rd., and Dixie Rd, Mississauga, ON.  For more info on what's on, how to get there, and about the Small Arms itself, please go to www.smallarms.ca

 

Polar Bears Found at Small Arms, Doors Open Mississauga

Polar bear digital art copyrigt Christine Montague. This Saturday, September 28, from 10 am - 4 pm, my portraits and polar bear oil paintings will be for show and sale at the Small Arms Inspection Building,  as part of Doors Open Mississauga 2013. The Small Arms Building is near and dear to my heart. Why?

The Small Arms Building is a 144,000 sq.ft example of WWII  industrial architecture. During the war,  over 40,000  women, "Rosie the Riveters", came from all over Canada to work at this site, where they manufactured  about 1 million Lee-Enfield rifles.

The Lakeview Legacy Foundation, of which I was proudly a founding member,  has set out to repurpose this impressive, but empty building into a desperately needed arts centre of working artists studios, performance space, art galleries, and museum. In other words, arms to arts. (Read more about it here)

And, to help you envision just how dynamic this centre will be when it houses studios for working visual artists, (and musicians, actors, dancers,  filmmakers, creative scientists, etc.) over 20 artists (including me)  will each set up shop in an office. We'll show our craft as if a working day in our studios, and offer work for sale.

But that's not all.

The Honorary Colonel Gerald Haddon will speak about J.A.D. McCurdy, the Canadian aviation pioneer.

Heather Brissenden will sing Hits of the Blitz from 10:00 to 14:00.

The Lorne Scots machine gun teams will compete through out the day.

The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion   will also be there.

You can see a Sherman tank.

And best of all, you will have the rare opportunity to meet some of the wonderful  Rosie the Riveters who actually worked at Small Arms.

http://www.smallarms.ca/SmallArms.html for contact info, schedule, & parking (it's free!). P.S. a very short walk west from Longbranch Go Station, Toronto.

Now, can you find the polar bear in the photos below?

Floors of Small Arms. Copyright Christine Montague. Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Polar bear hiding in the floors of small arms..

Clouds Over Lake Huron

Clouds over Lake Huron. Photo copyright Christine Montague Have you been to Lake Huron?  A stunningly beautiful, dramatic, (and sometimes dangerous) body of water, where any hint of land on the horizon is a mirage.

It is the third largest fresh water lake on our planet and the second largest of the Great Lakes.  According to a The Beach DJ, empty Lake Huron and all of North America would be in 1.5 meters, or about 5 feet, of water.

One look at the expanse of Huron's turquoise waters, not to mention its white sandy beaches (the wilder ones) , transports me someplace otherworldy, and oceanside.

Lake Huron is a marvel.

This past February, water levels hit a record low, for a number of reasons. The natural cycle of the lake level is a cause, but so also is the dredging done to deepen the shipping channel in the St. Clair River. The dredging has caused the flow of water from Lake Huron and Lake Michigan to accelerate into Lake Erie and Ontario, and to the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

The impact? Very simplified: fish population dwindles affecting fish populations, wildlife food chain, sport fishing and fisheries. Water warms up, algae grows. Water lowers affecting water supply to residents, particularly of Georgian Bay.

Finally, in April, a long-awaited solution was announced. Like anything in life, we take a long time wrecking something, it will take a long time to fix. It is all better explained here. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/04/29/great_lakes_to_get_relief_from_low_water_levels_porter.html

Wishing us all, blue skies and more turquoise water ahead.

 

 

 

Camera! (No) Action! Animals!

Recently, I have had access to a small private forest.  I set up a motion camera  to get a voyeuristic look at the creatures of the night. My real hope was to get images of a coyote in the brush before foliage appeared. I wanted to use this personally obtained reference for a  painting about solitude and alienation. For the first month the only evidence of any wildlife was the tiny silhouette of a bat far off in the darkness.  At least I knew the camera worked, but I had to reconsider its place. The results?  Something more suitable to a children's story. "Mr. Racoon, Mr. Possum and Ms. Cat live Alone in My Forest".  I have more animal action in my urban backyard.

Recently, when I was able to check out the camera, a new character arrived on the scene.  About 20 minutes after Ms. Cat prowled by, this fellow appears, and changes his course to follow what I believe are the cat's tracks. Hopefully, on my next check of the camera, I will see that this lovely fox was 20 minutes too late.

Fox checks out the tracks

 

Dogs, Fog, and Collateral

About four years ago, as I turned onto Mayfield Road in Halton Hills, the rumps  of two large dogs, trotting amicably along, appeared immediately before me in the thick fog. Luckily, for the dogs and me, I was driving slowly having just stopped at a light, and that my car's fog lights were doing their job.

Upon hearing the car,  the dogs, both German Shepard, one black, and the other brown and black, traversed  to the opposite shoulder. They never changed pace, or even looked back.  It was only as I snapped a photo, that the brown and black German Shepard,  in the lead,  gave me a glance.

Have you seen the movie Collateral ?  There is a scene where coyotes cross in front of the taxi that holds Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. It was my favorite scene in that film, and that is how I felt when these two dogs crossed my path in the thick of the fog.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago. It was overcast and had recently rained. Driving along 22nd side road, on my way out of the glen, I glimpsed two dark shapes emerge from the trees on the hillside to the marshy field below. My first hope, however unlikely, was that these were wolves. I excitedly turned the car around, and over to the side of the road.

Lo and behold, there they were, the same two dogs I had enjoyed photographing in the fog years before.  I fumbled to get my camera out of its bag, and still keep both eyes on the dogs.  They were on the go, when suddenly, these two "littlest hobos"  plunked themselves  down in a large, dark,  mucky puddle. These two must have need a cooling off, further proof, of just how eerily warm March is here in Southern Ontario.

Before I could snap a shot, up and away they went, into the woods, and out of sight.

Back in the studio,  I took another look at the old photo of them.   I knew the brown and black German Shepard had a collar, but that pixellated item around the black dog is a broken rope? Could they be feral? Lots of good rabbit eatin' here in the glen.

No matter, whether farm dog or feral, they seemed healthy, happy, and a team.

Dogs are usually not my thing, but I love the image of the black dog, his pale breath clear in the fog, and the contented freedom the pair represent.

I immediately started the drawing of the black Shepard in fog on a large canvas. But the Mill  "open studio" days, Friday and Saturday afternoons, are  in reality "clean hands days".   So contentedly I painted  the tidy  18" x 24" oil painting study above.

And the dogs? If they do have a home, and I hope they do, I am uncertain how content the owner will be with their muddy exploits.

Happy New Year and a January 1, 2012 Thumb Up from Norway!

I just wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year! Hot of the presses, I just received this Jan. 1st, 2012 photo of my url www.christinemontague.com from Matt Cook and Sorin Mihailovici, the "dart guys" from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Matt and Sorin, are presently in Svalbard, an archipelago in the arctic that makes up the northernmost part of Norway and where there are more polar bears than humans.  It has been 2012 there for a few hours!

So why are  these two adventurers (who I don't know) holding a poster with my web site markered on it up at Norway's North Pole?

Matt and Sorin are fundraising for the polar bear in a very unique, highly creative and fun way . Go to www.polarfaith.com to learn more and to follow their journey. You'll find out why they are called the "dart guys, too!

And, If you're like me, you'll envy them , ...um, offer a bit of financial support to their very worthy cause.

Wishing you all two thumbs up for 2012 from here in southern Ontario . Not quite as exciting as one thumb up from Norway, but the wish is sincere all the same.

Remembrance Day: It's Not Black & White. Red Poppies, Art & Stories

          The 24th Ottawa War Memorial 
 
On November 11, 2010, shortly before 11 a.m., I stood alone at the cenotaph near my countryside artist studio. Thousands of miles away, my first-born son  was stationed  in a FOB, i.e. a forward operating base in Afghanistan. He had been gone for months, and still had a couple of months yet to serve in his extended tour.

I have always observed Remembrance Day,  but never gave it deep thought. In school, I liked to draw poppies and was often the one chosen to recite "In Flanders Field" at assembly. I appreciated that my children's elementary schools put great effort into their Remembrance Day ceremonies, and sometimes I helped. But other than that?

Well, my age is showing. When I was born, in the dawn before internet and satellite tv, heck, colour tv would have been good, anecdotes about any war were ancient history to me.  You might as well have been talking about ancient Egyptians (except they were cooler).

When I was an older teenager, my mom  revealed to me, like a guilty secret, instead of the sad story it was, that she had been married before. Her husband, who she had adored, had been killed in WW2 and was buried somewhere in France.  Even though this was obviously a pivotal event in my mother's life, my teenage brain saw this as a tragic, romantic tale of love, not a story about war.  Still, my mom was old , and  this was all before my time, so even that  story got filed right along those of my WW1 & WW2 veteran family members.

But oh, what a difference  30 years and a truckload of hindsight makes.

My children are now at the age that my grandparents, parents, and their siblings were when they had their wartime experiences.   I can better imagine my predecessors as young people, now that I have a houseful of them myself. Much easier now to imagine them enlisting for idealistic adventure.  Much sadder to imagine the danger,  loneliness, sorrow, exhaustion, terror, and trauma they faced thousands of miles from home.

Now the stories make more sense. Stories of  obedience, endurance and perseverance, and of camaraderie, compassion, and bravery. And if they were lucky to come home, and not all my family members were, they brought secrets, war wounds and, sometimes, a war bride.

Oh, WW1, WW2, Afghanistan.

That is what I thought of as I stood, now joined by a few others, at that cenotaph that day. I snapped a photo of the cenotaph with my phone,  e-mailed the pic to my son telling him I loved him with all my heart, and that the good folk at the cenotaph wished him well.

To my amazement, he answered me right back.

War is the blackest foolishness, but iPhones, black or white, are mighty handy in wartime.

If you would like to send a Christmas wish to those military still serving overseas, click http://www.sears.ca/custom-content/operation-wish?extid=050211_ca_Vanity_EN_Unknown_Operationwish

Only a Bloomin' Bud for Mother's Day

Magnolia bud, No bloom. Mother's Day 2011 Copyright Christine Montague The past few months have been gloomy, rainy ones in the Greater Toronto Area. So much so, that for the first time ever, my magnolia tree is not in bloom on Mother's Day!

The fact that magnolias in this area are always out and sometimes even finished by Mother's Day, inspired me to paint a magnolia portrait entitled, you guessed it,  "Just in Time (for Mother's Day")" .

The weather today, Mother's Day 2011,  is so glorious, the bloom is not off my day, by the lack of Magnolia blossoms. It simply means Mother's Day should be extended a few more days, don't you think?

Happy Mother's day!

A Bridge to Beauty: Gushue Cove

 

 

 

I'm working in a blurb book about a trip to Stephenville, Newfoundland I had in the summer of 2010. This photo of the a bridge at "The Gravels" just beckons one to cross, don't you think? There is a mystery to it, but not a threatening one, certainly not in hospitable Newfoundland.

"The Gravels" is a  breathtaking walking trail about 15 minutes out of Stephenville, at Port au Port. Lots of tuckamore trees, wild roses, forest, stunning coves, huge fossils in the rocks and a well maintained path to boot.

"Octopus". Limbo Series. Photography of World War II Buildings in waiting.

These tentacles come from the bowels of the earth not the nearby ocean. World War II Air Force Pilots would wait here in the underground rooms the tunnels connect to. - ready to disembark at a moments notice. This building with its central body, and tunnel tentacles is known as "The Octopus" Limbo Series. World War II buildings in waiting. Stephenville, Newfoundland. Copy right Christine Montague.

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Demolition by Neglect. Beautiful Stephenville WW2 Buildings in Limbo.

Photograph copyright Christine Montague Stephenville, Newfoundland  was home to a United States Air Force Base in World War II.  This was an enormous base, and the last stop before Europe. Although many of the hangers are now gone, there are still many buildings from this period remaining. Barracks and other buildings that housed soldiers are now transformed into lovely apartments and private homes. Creative uses have been found for some of the hangers that exist, but some, like in the photo above, are vacant and in limbo, awaiting the next entrepreneurial endeavor. I imagine there are a few people in town who would like to see these vacant shells torn down. I hope they remain up. I would love to see  a creative use for these  beautiful giants with the dramatic auras.

I spent some time photographing the outside of some of these Stephenville WWII buildings. They compliment the photos I have been privileged to take of the interior of the Small Arms Inspection Building in Mississauga, Ontario. During the second world war, over 40,000 women came from across Canada to work in the Lee Enfield Rifle plant there. The Lake View Legacy Project is committed to revitalizing this building as a creative centre with artist studios, theatres, exhibition space, brown field studies & more. Although it, too, sat in  limbo, creativity , co-operation & collaboration has resulted in a promising & positive future for this WWII space in Mississauga.

Happy Hipstamatic

Just got the Hipstamatic app. I love it. Here are pics just outside my studio at the Williams MIll Visual Artist Centre.

The Artist Studio - Big Cats "Spring Into Art"

[slideshow] Above are a few photos of my studio - all cleaned up for this past weekend's  "Spring into Art" Open House - an annual event on the first weekend of May  at the Williams Mill Visual Artist Centre. Lots of black oil paint going on it those giant paintings of cats! I changed the "wet paint" sign to the more effective "Warning   - Big Wet Cat".

Artist Carmen Hickson supplied the tulips, and not seen,  I had lilacs and crabapple blossoms. As an aside, lilacs are out  in Mississauga, are simply buds in Halton Hills, and a visitor told me are not yet in bud in Ottawa. The coffee was ready to brew on the Keurig, and the chocolates were out. Thank you to everyone who took the time to stop by. I always appreciate your investing in my art.

Couldn't make it this time? My studio, as well as the over 30 others at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre are open Fridays and Saturday 12 - 5 pm. The Williams Mill Gallery is open Wednesday to Sundays 12 - 5 pm.

The Williams Mill is in the western GTA (Greater Toronto Area). It is only 5 minutes south of Terra Cotta, and  is 15 minutes north of Winston Churchill Blvd. and the 401 in Mississauga.