Come On In!: Doors of Annapolis Royal



Annapolis Royal occupies a special place in both the far western part of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and the province’s history.  Situated on the sweeping Annapolis River, the site was originally called Habitation at Port-Royal by French settlers around 1605 and was the capital of French Acadia.  In 1710, the settlement became the first capital of Nova Scotia during British rule. The charm of this small town is typified by its wide variety of doors and entryways, many of which hint at the town’s early history and its seaside heritage.  Here’s a sampling from a recent stroll on a brisk fall day.


Interconnectedness: Of Capstick, Breast Cancer Awareness and Calamity Jane

Home In Nova Scotia 001

Capstick, N.S. (from July 2015 Calendar, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation)


Occasionally, we all encounter people, situations and things that help to remind us what a small, interconnected world we live in.  Yesterday, I had one of those moments when I received this very nice email about part of the property shown in this blog’s header photo of a weathered, wood-shingled barn situated on the Atlantic, which I took several years ago in Capstick, Nova Scotia, a remote and gorgeously beautiful area of Cape Breton:

“Hello Brett,

I must say, very impressed that you would travel all the way up to Capstick, Nova Scotia to take wonderful pictures of that area. Ironically, the lead picture on your O’Canada website is of our family property. Every now and again I do a Google search of images on Capstick to see what pops up and your website did appear.

The picture of the grey home in your Blog called ‘Gentle Waves Near Capstick, Nova Scotia’ is actually my Uncle Peter’s home. Unfortunately, arsonists burned down that home about 3 years ago and my cousin had to go after them in court.

Each year the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation launches a calendar to raise money called ‘Shop 4 Charity Calendar Sweepstakes’. This year the calendar highlighted a picture representing each Province and Territory in Canada.

As I sat in my home office, the 2015 calendar was up on my cork board and when I flipped to the month of July the Province of Nova Scotia was represented by a picture.

See attached picture.[Note: This is the calendar image above and is of his family’s property.  Click on it for higher resolution]

I grew up going to Capstick every summer in the 1970’s and visiting Uncle Peter and Aunt Irene Kanary in that grey home. Our home (the original home from 1914) was just above Uncle Peter’s home closer to the road but it was burned down about 10 years ago.

Our family settled in Capstick back in 1840 from Ireland during the Potato Famine. The community was basically two families, the Capsticks and the Kanary’s. Not sure why they got their name on the community. Must have been there first.

Thought you might find this little tidbit interesting about your own website.

Dave Kanary
Calgary, Alberta

What great history and connection to place.  Nice to see that the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (and its photographer) also appreciate this scenery.  I asked Dave’s permission to post his email here, to which he agreed and added by way of a P.S.:

“PS: You may find this interesting as well, take a look at the history on Google for Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary). According to my relatives she is a Kanary (or Canary if you will) from our clan. Some of my own relatives spell their name with a ‘C’ as evidenced by the tombstones in the Capstick graveyard located in Bay St. Lawrence, Cape Breton (about 10 mins away from Capstick).”

Wonderful stuff!

Early U.S.-Canada Political Cartoons

Given that Canada just had a memorable election and the U.S. is still in the throes of its year-plus presidential campaign marathon, this seems to be a good opportunity to interject a smidgen of politics into the mix.  But not too heavy —  so let’s look at some early pop culture.

I'll CatchPolitical cartoons depicting relations between Canada and the U.S. extend back to the founding days of both countries. The images depicted here, from the late 1890s through early 1900s, mostly play on a recurrent theme of the U.S. being attentive or aligned with Canada for reasons that were alternately virtuous or of a more self-interested intention.  With Canada then still firmly part of the British Empire, Britain also figured prominently in many such scenes from this period.









Money Bags



Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving Monday

Monday is Canada’s Thanksgiving Day . . .


“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “Thank you,” that would suffice.”

                                                                       ~Meister Eckhart

Artist to Appreciate: David Taylor


~ Sunburst Wood Carving, by David Taylor ~

Driving along the rural back roads of the Nova Scotia shore in Kings County, I stumbled upon a classic cedar-shingled house and yard in Black Rock adorned with brightly colored wood carvings that made for an irresistible stop.   As I snapped a few photos, the property’s owner, David Taylor, amiably introduced himself and explained that the menagerie of  carved-wood creatures and other whimsical sculptures spread in every direction across the land are his creations.   He’s even affixed a pea-green sea monster carving about 100 yards (or 90 meters) offshore that sits atop the water’s surface at high tide.

Taylor is a true folk artist in the best sense of that term.  One small carving led to another and eventually Taylor found himself having devoted many years to lovingly making wood objects from locally sourced driftwood and other materials for his own enjoyment and that of others.  In addition to his many sculptures, Taylor spends time making distinctive rustic bird houses, each graced with the weathered, long-bearded face of a coastal fisherman and which he regularly sells.  His work is sufficiently appreciated that the nearby town of Canning recently festooned utility poles along its main business district with about two dozen of Taylor’s birdhouses in a wonderful public art display with local businesses adopting particular birdhouses.

Taylor regularly undertakes commissioned work and has more than a few birdhouses and other reasonably priced carvings available.  Although he doesn’t have a website, Taylor can be reached at

Late-Summer Sunsets on the Bay of Fundy


“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

                                                                      ~ Rabindranath Tagore


Colorful Backwoods Groundcovering in Harbourville


Walking along a backroad trail in Harbourville, Nova Scotia near the Bay of Fundy shore these small flowers hugging the ground caught my attention.  While their more commonly known and larger floral cousins (such as roses, tulips, lilies and the like) may receive more attention, the abundance of these tinier, prosaic blooms poking their vibrant colors through rocky terrain and from under scattered logs provides a perfect backdrop for a hike close to the water on a lazy summer day.

Acadia Theatre’s Classic Neon Splendor!


I like vintage signs a great deal, especially classic neon displays that have been well preserved.  These shots taken yesterday show The Acadia Theatre in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, which is graced with a magnificent masterpiece of neon and signage art above its entryway.   The triangular sign juts out from the building’s facade with “ACADIA” in bright yellow on two sides and white and yellow neon accent lines all around and a bold neon yellow star encircled atop the front.

Built in 1911, this Annapolis Valley theatre has been through several incarnations and now houses a cinema and stage for community theatre (the Al Whittle Theatre), a film society (the FundyFilm Society), a local coffee shop / cafe (Just Us!) and an art gallery (Jack’s Gallery).  More info can be obtained at the Acadia’s site here.

aDSC_1721 aDSC_1726

Some other posts about signs on O’Canada:

∗ Love These Vintage Neon and Bulb Signs!

∗ Artist Appreciation: Andrew Horne

∗ On the Street Toronto: Fun & Unusual Signs

∗ “Mel’s Tearoom” – Finished

“Mel’s Tearoom” — Finished


Brett Lockwood, “Mel’s Tearoom, Sackville, N.B. (2015)

(Acrylic on Board, 32″x 48″)

In the recent past I’ve not picked up my paintbrushes as often as I’ve used my ever-dependable Nikon.  But something about the vintage neon sign hanging outside the Mel’s Tearoom diner in  Sackville, New Brunswick and the photo (below) that I snapped of it a while back (earlier post here) inspired me to translate that image onto canvas — with some usual artistic license along the way. Perhaps seeing Toronto artist Andrew Horne’s marvelous takes on classic signage from bygone eras both online and at his Flying Pony gallery in Toronto contributed as well.  In any event, the result is above (photo is a bit crooked), which I’ve happily finished and wrapped with a handmade floating frame.  Efforts at painting like this are good meditative exercises and always enhance my appreciation for the skill and creative expressions of professional artists.


Inspiration Photo for Painting

Stewart Jones’s Vivid Cityscapes

Wellington Composition

Stewart Jones, Wellington Composition (2013)

Stewart Jones is an immensely talented Canadian artist with a passion for painting vivid cityscapes — many set in Ontario — that are simply wonderful.   He refers to his paintings as “love letters to the forgotten corners and alleyways” of our cities. Jones’s images often depict buildings at irregular angles or vantage points and feature lush brushstrokes that together energize his work and provide a fresh perspective on the often-overlooked, uncelebrated urban structures and byways that constantly surround us.  More of Jones’s beautiful art can be seen at his painting website here and on his Facebook page.


Stewart Jones, CM Composition #1 (2013)


Urban Alley (2014)

Stewart Jones, Urban Alley (2014)



Stewart Jones, Kingston Walkway (Year Unknown)



Stewart Jones, Royal Hotel Picton (2014)



Stewart Jones, Hamilton (2014)

Image Credits: Stewart Jones

Seeing Red

While recently browsing through some of my Canada photos I was struck by how often the color red made an appearance.  In our visual vocabulary red adds drama and impact in many ways, as this sampling across different regions of Canada highlights.

Brian Deignan: Memory, Imagination and Wonder

Barn, Nova Scotia

Brian Deignan, “House with View, Nova Scotia”

Because it is so unusual, the work of a highly-skilled photographic artist who intentionally seeks to blur his images stands out to me.  Such are the mysterious images produced by Brian Deignan, a Toronto-area fine art photographer originally from Montreal and who also has lived in several parts of the U.S.  Unlike typical bokeh photographs — where the subject is in focus against a blurred background — Deignan’s entire subject is out of focus.  The resulting impressionistic images resemble paintings and conjure up deeper thoughts that often elude sharply focused photographs.   Deignan hints at this with the following observation from his portfolio website:  “People, places, things are what I photograph; memory, imagination, wonder are how.” Very nicely stated!

See more of Deignan’s images at his site here.


 Brian Deignan, “Crosswalk #28” (High Noon in Mississauga)

Winter Wonderland #10

Brian Deignan, “Winter Wonderland #10”

School Bus, Route 332

Brian Deignan, “School Bus, Route 332 — Nova Scotia”


Brian Deignan, “Sunday Drive #25”

Sunday Drive

Brian Deignan, “Sunday Drive #20”

Friday Night, Queen Near Spadina

 Brian Deignan, “Friday Night — Queen Near Spadina”

(Image Credits:  Brian Deignan)

Lisa Brawn’s Vibrant Woodcuts


 Lisa Brawn, “Bluebird”

Lisa Brawn is a Calgary-based artist who painstakingly creates exquisitely vibrant woodcuts.  Her subject matter ranges from wild animals to celebrities to pop culture icons.  Shown here are some of her amazing images of wild birds, each with an abstract background carving that nicely complements the main subject.  Brawn’s annual “Wild Bird Woodcuts” wall calendar is gorgeous and is a hot collector’s item, having quickly sold out its 2014 and 2015 print runs.  More of her fabulous art can be seen at her website here.


Lisa Brawn, “Blue Jay”


Lisa Brawn, “Vermillion Flycatcher”


Lisa Brawn, “Puffin”


Lisa Brawn, “Gray Jay”


Lisa Brawn, “Geese”

Image Credits: Lisa Brawn

Related Posts on O’Canada Blog:

Laurence Hyde’s Southern Cross

Backwoods Lumbering During the 1880s

Go By Air With TCA

TCA -- Go By Air

Before it was known as Air Canada, Canada’s major airline was called TCA or Trans-Canada Air Lines.  The leading railway companies in Canada — particularly Canadian Pacific and Canadian National — played an early major role in connecting the far-flung dots within that country’s vast borders. In 1937, one of those rail companies, Canadian National, in an effort to diversify, formed TCA thereby filling another vital transportation niche to serve Canada’s expansive geography as well as beyond.   In 1965, TCA changed its name to Air Canada.  These stylish travel posters from before 1965 (when its name was changed to Air Canada) harken back to TCA’s first few decades as a national flag air carrier.

Distillery District Door and Window Combo


This smallish window and nearby door in Toronto’s Distillery District caught my eye both because of their curves and the forest green shared by each opening.  In addition to the well-preserved historic buildings, this area of the city features a wide range of exceptional restaurants, bars and small shops.


Dreamy Illusions: The Surreal Art of Rob Gonsalves

R. Gonsalves 2

“The Phenomenon of Floating”

Toronto-born Rob Gonsalves is a surrealist master whose marvelous paintings depict dreamlike illusions. It’s almost like a mashup of M.C. Escher and Rene Magritte.  But, of course, Gonsalves’ style is the result of his own creative synthesis of many artistic strands.  Many of his paintings feature wide landscapes and young children — which seems appropriate for both the whimsical joy and philosophical reflection conjured by this painstaking artwork.  More of Gonsalves’ art can be seen on his official site here and at the site for Huckleberry Fine Art.

R. Gonsalves 4

  “Stepping Stones”


R. Gonsalves 5

“Written Worlds”


R. Gonsalves 3

“Tabletop Towers”


R. Gonsalves 6

“Nocturnal Skating”


R. Gonsalves 7

“Towers of Knowledge”


R. Gonsalves -- Beyond the Reef

“Beyond the Reef”

Image Credits: Rob Gonsalves and Huckleberry Fine Art.

They’re Giving Away Land!


Back in the day, Canada needed more people to build up its country and, in particular, in its vast western inland plains. With lots of land and not so many people, the federal and provincial governments and land companies starting in the late 1800s on into the early twentieth century launched  recruitment campaigns  around the world, especially in Europe, with the lure of free land grants and the potential for prosperity.  The distance was far and farm life was (is!) tough, but the appeal drew many new immigrants to Canada’s west.   I love the variety and details in some of these posters! (Click on images to enlarge)

“Now God be praised. I will die in peace.”: Early Canadian Military Heroes

Stricken at the battle for Quebec City in 1759, Major General James Wolfe uttered those words as he lay dying just as his troops’ victory was assured.  Imposing bas relief sculptures of Wolfe and three other early Canadian military heroes — Samuel de Champlain, John Graves Simcoe and Isaac Brock — grace the facade of the Archives and Canadiana Building at the University of Toronto.  Like their real-life counterparts centuries earlier, these sculptures keep a watchful and weathered gaze upon the surrounding landscape.


Samuel de Champlain (1574-1635)



James Wolfe (1727-1759)



John Graves Simcoe (1752-1806)



Isaac Brock (1769 -1812)

Toronto Public Art: Barbara Hepworth’s “Parent 1”


“Parent 1” (1984), by Barbara Hepworth — Her modern work calls to mind Inuit forms.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

                                                                                     ~~ Thomas Merton

“Having a swell time . . .”: Vintage Hospital Postcards


Postmarked 1913.  A cozy looking place.

Hospitals seem a peculiar and dreary subject for postcards.  But back in the day — before routine outpatient procedures and hospitals speedily freeing up beds — time in hospital (as patient or visitor) regularly spanned several days or longer, so penning a brief note to update absent friends or loved ones was probably not so odd.  And what better way to do it than with one of the colored cards conveniently available at the hospital!


 Postmarked 1945. The note starts out: “Having a swell time.”  Love those roadsters!



About 1948.  Yikes — looks more like a prison!



About 1910.  Regal digs.  Notice horse and buggy to bottom left.



 Postmarked 1935.  Street car or bus passing by.

Urban Art: Bronze Cows in Toronto


Art in urban settings is great to bring us out of ourselves and to refresh our minds.  A wonderful example is artist Joe Fafard’s The Pasture, a group of bronze cows posed lazily resting in the bucolic setting of the Toronto-Dominion Centre office park (designed by Mies van der Rohe), is perfect for providing an unexpected feeling of being far away from the nearby hustle and bustle of the Financial District.

CowsDSC_0824 CowsDSC_0825 CowsDSC_0826 CowsDSC_0827

“Woke Up This Morning” on CBC Radio

Although I’ve not posted much about music on O’Canada, exploring music and its many genres is one of my favorite pastimes.  While I’ve been clued in to some great Canadian music through CBC Radio over the years, the diverse programming of CBC Radio One is such that I’ve also discovered from time to time new (for me) American pieces. Such was the case earlier this week as I listened to “As It Happens” , which is hosted by Carol Off and Jeff Douglas.  On that particular evening, the show payed homage to Claude Sitton, a journalist who passed away this week and who covered many of the key events of the early 1960s civil rights movement, by closing out with “Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind on Freedom)” performed by The SNCC Freedom Singers.  It’s a powerful song. Video below.

Whack A Canadian


A weekly treat is reading through each new issue of The New Yorker, one of my all-time favorite magazines because it is so consistently excellent.  Its cartoons are an indispensable hallmark of the magazine’s style and, over the years, its cartoonists occasionally have focused their good-natured humor at Canadians or Americans’ general (mis)perception of Canada.

In keeping with that tradition, the most recent issue of The New Yorker includes the above cartoon by P.C. Vey playing on the notion of Canadian politeness.  It’s funny but probably goes a bit too far — yes, Canadians are generally polite but certainly not pushovers.  Of course, it’s all in good fun and not to be taken too seriously.  As previous commenters about such cartoons have noted, if you have to have a reputation, that of being overly polite isn’t a bad one to have.

Image Credit: P.C. Vey, The New Yorker

Related posts on O’ Canada:

More American Cartoons on Canada

Another Amusing Take on Canadian Politeness

“You First. I Insist”:  A Canadian Standoff

The Great Canadian Outdoors: Vintage Rockies Postcards


 Lake Louise & Victoria Glacier — About 1949

It’s safe to say that when many Americans think of Canada they visualize vast expanses of nature and, in particular, the Canadian Rockies.  These vintage postcards — most of which are colored photos — feature scenes of the Rockies in Alberta, spanning the early 1900s up to the early 1960s.


Athabasca Glacier — About 1960 (Love that funky snow bus!)



Bow Valley, Banff — About 1950s



Bow Valley, Showing Golf Course — About 1950s



Cascade Mountain, Banff — Early 1900s  (This was quite a ride then in a horse drawn carriage.)



Cascade Mountain, Banff — 1920s



 Wind Mountain, Alberta — About 1910s

Artist Appreciation: Richard Thomas Davis

Richard Thomas Davis -- 65 Volvo

Richard Thomas Davis, “65 Volvo” (2012-13)

I truly love so many styles of art, but photo-like realism in painting is a style that often leaves me speechless by the skill and patience required of the artist to achieve such exceptional detail and still add that extra emotional touch to a scene that painting brings to the table.   I recently came upon the work of Richard Thomas Davis, an American born artist who is now a Canadian citizen living in Nova Scotia.  Davis’s choice of subject matter is terrific and captures bits and pieces of life in small town Canada.  I particularly like that while his images are nicely composed and perfectly rendered many of them incorporate elements of wear and tear and slight decay, each suggesting the passage and ravages of time and the living of life.

More of his works can be seen at Davis’s website here and at Toronto’s Odon Wagner Gallery and Halifax’s Studio 21 Gallery.

Richard Thomas Davis -- Storm Doors

“Storm Doors” (2010-11)


Richard Thomas Davis -- Red Dot

“Red Dot” (1995)


Richard Thomas Davis -- Hallway

“Hallway” (1994-96)


Richard Thomas Davis -- Cold Front

“Cold Front” (1974-76)


Richard Thomas Davis -- 4.30

“4:30” (2010-11)


 Similar posts on O’Canada:

—  Artist Appreciation:  Andrew Horne

—  Sean Yelland’s “Distant” and “Stop Everything”

—  Artist to Appreciate:  Christopher Walker

Welcoming Another Year of Wonder


Lichen-Covered Rocks and Windblown Pine, Kejimkujik Seaside, Nova Scotia

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.”

                                                                                                   ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Magical Winterscapes by Group of Seven

A.J. Casson -- Rooftops

A. J. Casson, Rooftops


As the chill of wintry winds, snow and ice continues, a compilation of Canadian winterscapes by the Group of Seven artists seems in order.  As always, the scenery by these talented artists is captivating!  (Click on image to enlarge)

Similar posts on O’Canada:

→  The Group of Seven’s Landscape Explosion

→  The Very Vital Canadian Group of Painters

Winnipeg’s Cozy and Artful Warming Huts

Woodpile HutWood Pile Hut


Skating on the frozen surface of the Assiniboine River, a popular winter pastime, will work up quite a chill.  Recognizing this, makeshift warming huts have long been used along the river to provide a temporary respite from the cold.  Several years ago (2010), a local art-and-architecture competition was started in Winnipeg to see how the simple warming hut might be creatively rethought.  The result has been an annual showcase of fun and function that does Winnipeg proud, as these images attest!  More about the warming huts can be found at the site for the annual competition.



The Hole Idea Hut


Fir Hut

Fir Hut



The Five-Hole Hut


Ha(y)ven Hut

Ha(y)ven Hut


Hygge House Hut

 The Hygge Hut


Ice Pillows Hut

Ice Pillows Hut


Red Blanket Hut

Red Blankets Hut


Rope Pavillion Hut

Rope Pavillion Hut


Windshield Hut

Windshield Hut


Image credits:   Warming Huts Competition Site


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