Artist to Appreciate: Katharine Burns

k-burns-perfect-dayKatharine Burns, “Perfect Day”

Capturing in a painting the emotion of the coastal landscape is a tricky thing and something that Halifax-based artist, Katharine Burns, has managed to do perfectly. Inspired by the serenity of Nova Scotia’s beautiful shores (one of my favorite places!), she skillfully renders the movement of ocean waves, with varying shades of light dancing across the water’s constantly shifting surface beneath vast expanses of cloud-covered skies.  This past August, Burns had her first (of what I’m sure will many other) well-deserved solo show, this one entitled “Sea Level” and held at Argyle Fine Art in Halifax, which showcased many of her seascapes.

On her artist site she notes: “Preparing for my first solo show was one of the hardest things I’ve done.  For six months I went through periods of serious self doubt and frustration along with some moments of sudden realization and inspiration.  It was a bit of a rollercoaster for me emotionally but I learned a lot and grew as an artist.”  You have to root for that sort of spirit and candor!

In addition to Burns’ evocative seaside paintings, her other work is also terrific.  I especially like the painterly style of her series of bicycle paintings, a few of which are below.  More of her art can be seen on Burns’ artist site here.

[As an side, much like the Ian Tan Gallery on Canada’s West Coast, Argyle Fine Art on the East Coast has a stellar roster of emerging and established Canadian artists and both are among my favorite independent art galleries.  As I’ve done with some Ian Tan Gallery artists, this is the first of several posts I’ll be doing on a few artists represented by Argyle whose work deserves greater attention.]

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Katharine Burns, “Diffused Light”

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Katharine Burns, “Glisten”

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Katharine Burns, “Lawrencetown”

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Katharine Burns, “Road Racer”

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Katharine Burns, “Linus”

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Katharine Burns, “Bicycle Series 2”

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Katharine Burns, “Marginal Road”

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Related Posts on O’Canada Blog:

Lyssa Kayra’s Inspired Tree Ring Art

Intricate Pebble Paintings by Kristina Boardman

David Pirrie:  Mapping Western Terrains and Our Sense of Place

Andrea Kastner and Rejected Things

Artist to Appreciate: Richard Ahnert

The Ancient Prayers of Compline

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I’m definitely an amateur photographer at best.  So I was pleased to be asked recently to allow a photo I’d taken of a simple, well-worn pew inside an old church on the Nova Scotia shore to be used for a poster for an upcoming concert  by Acadia University’s distinguished Manning Chapel Choir.  Of course, I was more than happy to do so (and the request  made my day)!

The sunset concert of Compline, or night prayers, will be sung, appropriately, in a former old church in the small town of Harbourville on the Bay of Fundy about a week before Canada’s Thanksgiving Day.  The concert poster is above and the original blog post and series of photos that prompted the request is here.  More about the concert and the Manning Chapel Choir can be found here.

Green With Envy

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Headstones, Old Burying Ground, Halifax

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Given its immense size, Canada is blessed with vast forests, sprawling farms and sweeping fields all of green.  Adding to previous posts featuring red- and blue-themed photo galleries, this collection showcases many shades of green that I’ve encountered through my photos from coast to coast across Canada.

Joy of the Blues

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Small Fishing Boat, Near Port Rexton, Newfoundland

I love playing around with themes.  In an earlier post, I grouped together a bunch of my photos from across Canada that featured a strong element of red.  Today, I thought I’d do a similar thing with some photos that incorporate blues (of the uplifting kind).

The Atlantic Advocate – Part 1: Vintage Trade and Tourism Ads

Newfoundland Trademarks

The Atlantic Advocate was a general interest magazine published monthly from 1956 through 1992 with a focus on life, culture and business in the four Atlantic provinces — New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.  While browsing through a stack of issues from the late ’50s and early ’60s, one of the things that stood out to me was the enthusiastic boosterism of many ads promoting economic development and tourism in those places.  The fact that ads of this nature are so prominent in a general interest publication is partly a testament to the economic challenges long faced by the Maritimes and an appreciation by their relatively small populations of the significant impact of industry and natural resources development on daily life in their regions.

 

Canadian Cities in 1950s Watercolors

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For Canada Day weekend, this post features images that span the geography of this vast country.  Around 1953, in a grand display of national pride, the Montreal-based alcohol and beverage giant Seagram Company commissioned over a dozen Canadian artists (including several among the famed Group of Seven) to create a series of  watercolors of major Canadian cities. The paintings were subsequently the focus of a world tour organized by Seagram to showcase Canada and its urban landscapes.

While recently rummaging through an antique shop I came across a small booklet, dating to 1953, in which these paintings were reproduced and for which this post shows a sampling of the now somewhat faded images.  While many of the provincial capitals are depicted, I find the inclusion of several less prominent cities (including Fort William, Hamilton, Sarnia, Shawinigan Falls and Trois Rivieres) to be fascinating.

St. John's

Calgary

Shawinigan Falls

Charlottetown

Halifax

Montreal

Regina

Quebec City

Saint John

Hamilton

Vancouver

Toronto

Winnipeg

Windsor

Experience Wonder

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Blossoming Peach Grove, Wolfville, N.S.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

                                                          ~ William Butler Yeats

 

Old Baptist Church, St. Croix Cove, N.S.

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Not far from the Bay of Fundy shore of the northern Annapolis Valley sits this very old and humble Baptist church.  The colored glass windows are adorned simply with a subtle yellow-hued cross motif and a few complementary colors in the other panes.  Every weathered detail of its cedar-shingle exterior and its intimate understated interior testifies to its long history and the many lives and life-stories that have been shared within.

Annapolis Royal Through Its Signs

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Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, is a charming community whose vibrancy is hinted at by the variety of colorful shop signs and other markers found along the town’s main street.  This sampling — I know I missed a few (my apologies) — suggests as much.

Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia

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Front Cover Illustration by Reginald Knowles for Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Helen Creighton, a  then-budding musicologist, set about criss-crossing Nova Scotia to collect songs peculiar to the province.  In 1933 she published 150 of these songs in Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia, the first of her many song collections.

I had the good fortune recently to come across a lovely first edition of this book and have enjoyed thumbing through it, while marvelling at the laborious effort reflected in its pages.  Here may be found songs of the sea, of love and its missing, of battle, of children’s play, as well as connections to the English, Scottish, French, Acadian and Mikmaq influences on this rich local music.  The book’s front and back covers are graced with an exquisite woodcut by the noted illustrator, Reginald Knowles, and depict scenes suggestive of the songs within.

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Title Page, Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)

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Homeward Bound

“Homeward Bound,” from Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)

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Devil's Island Scene

Frontispiece Illustration by R. Wilcox for Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)

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Back Cover Illustration by Reginald Knowles for Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)

Toward Day’s End at Digby Harbor

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Like P.E.I.’s fame for its mussels harvest, Digby, N.S. is widely acclaimed as a source for some of the East Coast’s best scallops.  The Harbor in Digby is a bustling place as the local fishing fleet accounts for its daily labors.   These photos are from around dusk as things were winding down a bit.

 

Come On In!: Doors of Annapolis Royal

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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.

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Interconnectedness: Of Capstick, Breast Cancer Awareness and Calamity Jane

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

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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
Canada

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!

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving Monday

Monday is Canada’s Thanksgiving Day . . .

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

                                                                       ~Meister Eckhart

Artist to Appreciate: David Taylor

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~ 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  francesanddavidtaylor@gmail.com.

Late-Summer Sunsets on the Bay of Fundy

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

                                                                      ~ Rabindranath Tagore

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Colorful Backwoods Groundcovering in Harbourville

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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!

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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.

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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

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.

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

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Brian Deignan, “Winter Wonderland #10”

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

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Brian Deignan, “Sunday Drive #25”

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Brian Deignan, “Sunday Drive #20”

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 Brian Deignan, “Friday Night — Queen Near Spadina”

(Image Credits:  Brian Deignan)

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)

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Richard Thomas Davis -- Red Dot

“Red Dot” (1995)

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Richard Thomas Davis -- Hallway

“Hallway” (1994-96)

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Richard Thomas Davis -- Cold Front

“Cold Front” (1974-76)

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Richard Thomas Davis -- 4.30

“4:30” (2010-11)

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 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

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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

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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

In Memory of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo & W.O. Patrice Vincent

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Cumberland County Soldiers Memorial, Amherst, N.S.

What a sad and tumultuous past week it’s been for Canada.  South of our shared border our hearts go out in sorrow and sympathy to the country and the families of slain Canadian Forces members Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.   May they rest in peace.

(I had been saving this image to post on Remembrance Day, but now seems as fitting.)

Crisp Maritimes Morning

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Rusted Tiller Wheel, Annapolis Valley, N.S., Along the Bay of Fundy Coast

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”

                                                                                       ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Early Fall, Kejimkujik Seaside, Nova Scotia

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“Make each step with intention and surrender and you will move forward on your path. Be kind to others.  Honor the mystery and wonder that surrounds us at every moment.”                                                                                                                                              ~ Nicola Barsaleau*

(*Nicola Barsaleau is a talented artist I recently met at an art fair who makes exquisite linocut prints, several of which incorporate wonderfully inspiring words of wisdom such as the above and can be seen on her site here.)

Bridges As Depicted on Vintage Postcards

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 Steam train crossing as onlookers leisurely enjoy the vista.  Postmarked 1921. 

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Even with sophisticated modern equipment, bridges are marvels of engineering skill.  Bridges from earlier periods, such as the array of Canadian ones featured on these vintage postcards, built without the benefit of such conveniences and often at the cost of many lives and injuries, are that much more impressive!

Heading into Canada from Detroit.  About 1940s, when cars featured many curves.

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Victoria-Jubilee-Bridge

Love the simplicity of this image and the partial reflection. Postmarked 1906.

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Similar posts:

•  Beautiful Old Railway Bridge, Near Clementsport, N.S.

•  Canada-U.S. Friendship Postcard and Stamps

•  Vintage Quebec:  Ox Carts, Dog Carts and Sleighs

Old Maps and Their Hidden Stories

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Nova Canadae (1693)

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Good historical maps combine science and art to guide its users through its subject geography, with the best such maps igniting the imagination about the many backstories underpinning its cartographical offerings. Some of the oldest maps of North America include parts of Canada, which then featured place names such Terra Nova (now Newfoundland), Nouvelle France (most of what is now Eastern Canada), and Acadie (now Nova Scotia).  The following collection showcases some interesting old maps of Canada I’ve come across.

Related Posts on O’Canada:

1933 Quebec Tourist Road Map

Mother’s Day Homage: The Wilcox Family Gravestones

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 Base of Gravestone of Susan Wilcox (1834-1918), “Mother”

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The sorrows of motherhood and the difficulty of raising children safely to adulthood more than a century ago were poignantly brought to mind by a grouping of gravestones I happened upon last Fall in the cemetery of the old Pembroke Chapel (originally Methodist and later a United Church) in Pembroke, Nova Scotia.

Situated beside the gravestones for Susan Wilcox (1834-1918) — prominently marked “Mother” — and her husband, Nathan (1827 -1899), are markers for five of their children, each of whom predeceased their parents:  Cyrus, who it’s noted “Drowned At Sea”, aged 27 years, 1887;  Norman F., aged 2 yrs. 7 mos., 1861; Annie E., aged 13 mos., 1871; Frederick W., aged 1 yr., 1873; and Cora M., aged 1 day, 1877.

My curiosity prompted a search of old genealogical records here, which revealed that Susan and Nathan Wilcox had a total of 11 children (born between 1859 to 1880) — quite a brood!  Families were larger then partly because additional helping hands were needed and life was understood to be more precarious.   To lose a child is an unbearable thought for any parent and to have five leave this world before either parent sounds utterly tragic.  Even though they had six children that survived them and considering that many things about life being very tough may have been taken in stride back then, I imagine that this mother and father must have endured an immense measure of grief.

Thus, this homage to motherhood and Mother’s Day and a reminder to be thankful for family, friends and other loved ones, as well as to treasure each of our precious days (on Mother’s Day and beyond).

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Gravestones for Nathan and Susan Wilcox Family, Pembroke, Nova Scotia

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 Markers of Norman F., Annie E., Frederick W. and Cora M. Wilcox

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 Markers of Cyrus Wilcox and his mother, Susan Wilcox

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Old Pembroke Chapel, Pembroke, Nova Scotia

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Similar posts on O’Canada:

* Saint John’s Transcendent Old Loyalist Burial Grounds

* Halifax’s Beautiful Old Burying Ground

* Canada’s Oldest Regular Cemetery:  Garrison Cemetery, Annapolis Royal, N.S.

Low Tide on the Moose River, Clementsport, Nova Scotia

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“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 

                                                                                                              ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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