Cameron Stevens’ Vintage-Style Canada Parks Posters

Cameron Stevens is a hugely talented graphics designer working in Ontario.  Several years ago he embarked on a project to design vintage screen-printed-style posters for a number of Canada’s national and provincial parks.  A few years later he’s now up to 58 gorgeous posters, each of which is characterized by a spare, consistent layout and muted pastel tints as evidenced by the sampling shown here.  Whether intentional or not, most also include a body of water, which is certainly reflective of the vast number of lakes, rivers and sea coasts throughout the country.

On his official Canada’s Parks poster art site, Stevens notes that he was inspired by the artwork produced by the U.S. Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s and 1940s to promote America’s National Parks.  His Canada Parks posters clearly harken back to that earlier era, as well as the time when the Canadian Pacific Railway blanketed the country with its highly stylized travel posters.  These contemporary posters with a vintage feel are beautiful to behold while bringing well-deserved attention to many of Canada’s spectacular outdoor treasures across its provinces and territories.  Stevens sells these as posters and prints, which can be accessed through the above official poster site and his graphics site.

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(Images credit: Cameron Stevens)

Similar Posts on O’Canada:

~ Retro Winter Recreation and Travel Ads

~ Magnificent Travel Art of the Canadian Pacific Railway

~ Let’s Visit Ontario

~ Go By Air With TCA

Shades of Toronto Graffiti (Part 3- Designs)

On the walls of Toronto some of the street art exhibits strong elements of design, such as these examples. I especially like the piece just above, which is painted on a piece of plywood tacked onto the side of a building.

Shades of Toronto Graffiti (Part 2 – P.S)

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I realized after I shot these four images that the faces had similar characteristics and they were all tagged “P.S” and were likely done by the same street artist.   Their creator  favors funky, angular faces and there’s definitely a certain style going on with these.

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Similar Posts:

~ Shades of Toronto Graffiti (Part 1 – Overview)

Shades of Toronto Graffiti (Part 1 – Overview)

Toronto, being the big city that it is, has more than its share of diverse street or wall art, more commonly called graffiti.  This isn’t every one’s cup of tea, but it’s hard to ignore the creative expression that goes into these highly stylized works.

Among the varieties to be found gracing the corner wall of an old building, on either side of the occasional alley way or wherever else you may find these quirky pieces are classic graffiti tags, the enigmatic or humorous character scenes, the images laden with social or political messages, and designs that are as much about vibrant colors as anything else.  I took a lot of shots of these recently, so have broken them up with some being posted here and others planned for a later set of shared images.

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Similar Posts on O’Canada:

∅ Ossington Avenue Graffiti

∅ Montreal’s Vibrant Walls of Graffiti

∅ Wall Art a la Montreal

The Good Old Days: Rural Life in Vintage Postcards

Hay Making, Nova Scotia (about 1960)

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Out in the country people work hard, and back in the proverbial good old days they worked even harder.  Whether on a farm, a fishing village or in the forest, rural folk have always had to put their bodies and souls into their labors to eke out a living.

As these vintage postcards from the eastern parts of Canada attest they at least did so amidst beautiful settings.

River Saguenay at Chicoutimi, Quebec (about 1940)

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Ox Cart, Rural Quebec (about 1940)

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Spinning in Rural Quebec (1950)

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Back of Spinning in Rural Quebec (1950):   “Dear Ma – That’s you and me working. Lots of little farms and little houses here. Horses do most of the work. Farms are very small. In winter the men work in the lumber business, in summer farming. Women do fancy work in winter to sell it in the summer. Love Helen”

 

 

Similar posts in O’Canada:

⊕  Quebec Charm in Vintage Postcards

⊕  “Dear Auntie . . don’t be cross”: Scenic British Columbia in Old Postcards

⊕  Moonlit Views of Yesteryear Canada

“Three Things . . .”

Graffiti Sunburst, Kensington Market, Toronto

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.”                          

                                      ~ Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)

“I’ll Meet You There”

Can’t help but smile about this quirky handmade sign stumbled upon recently in the Kensington Market district of Toronto.

The words are from a poem by Rumi that is generally understood to be about putting aside judgments that divide people and instead to focus on appreciating the wonders of being and the things that connect us all.

William Kurelek and Winter on the Prairie

W. Kurelek, "Home on the Range" (1967)

W. Kurelek, “Home on the Range” (1967)

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On previous visits to the AGO in Toronto I’ve noticed William Kurelek’s paintings but for some reason his artwork stood out more notably on my most recent visit.  Perhaps this was because my trip there was during a week of extreme cold just before year-end and many of Kurelek’s scenes on display at the AGO are prominently set during the winter.

Kurelek’s parents were Ukrainian immigrants to Canada and settled in the prairie regions, initially in Alberta and later, after his parents lost their farm during the Great Depression, in Manitoba.  Winters can be harsh in much of Canada, but the vast unpopulated stretches of the country’s midsection make for a particularly stark cold season.  While a viewer of his paintings can find other themes in his work (for example, his Catholicism or the influence of Hieronymous Bosch in Kurelek’s “Harvest of Our Mere Humanism Years” below), the experiences of his family and his youth on the Canadian prairie permeate many of his paintings, often in dichotomies. Thus, one can glean the tough slogging of farm work during winter (such as in “Child With Feed in Winter” below) as well as the whimsy and high-spiritedeness of childhood even in the midst of endless snowscapes or the as yet unknowable worries of the adult world (such as with “Reminiscences of Youth” and “After the Blizzard in Manitoba”, both also below).

Kurelek was a prolific painter and other aspects of life on the Canadian prairies can be found in his extensive body of work, but at this time of the year his “winter works” speak most clearly to me.   The collaborative art site William Kurelek / The Messenger is a terrific resource for more background on this notable artist and his distinctively Canadian art.

W. Kurelek, “Reminiscences of Youth” (1968)

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W. Kurelek, “Untitled (Child With Feed in Winter)” (1967)

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W. Kurelek, “After the Blizzard in Manitoba” (1967)

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W. Kurelek, “Sunset Cape Dorset Airstrip” (1968)

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W. Kurelek, “Harvest of Our Mere Humanism Years” (1972)

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W. Kurelek, “Wintertime North of Winnipeg” (1962)

 

Similar Posts on O’Canada:

♦  Magical Winterscapes By Group of Seven

♦  Bob Pitzel’s Art of the Vanishing Prairie

♦  Retro Winter Recreation and Travel Ads

Go Fish!

During the week after Christmas Toronto’s temperature plummeted to a 57-year record low.  Brrrrr!  Bundled up tightly against such crazy wintery weather, the day was slightly brightened by coming across this group of colorful sculptures of fishing bobbins.  Situated in Canoe Landing Park in the CityPlace neighborhood, these cheerful works were created by noted Vancouver artist Douglas Coupland.  Elsewhere in the park there is an oversized sculpture of a red canoe (also by Coupland), in which park-goers can sit and look out across Gardiner Expressway toward nearby Lake Ontario.  Clever and fun subject for sculptures and another great example of the vibrant public art that can be found throughout metro Toronto.

 

Hello, Yellow . . .

Sun Carving by Local Artists David Taylor, Black Rock, N.S.

A collection of yellows from various photo outings across Canada to brighten the impending blue of winter.

Similar posts on O’Canada:

→ Green With Envy

→ Joy of the Blues

Seeing Red 

Vintage Cover Art: The Goblin

Prior to the great stock market crash at the end of the decade and the ensuing economic chaos, the prevalent mood of the 1920s in many places was upbeat and carefree. Magazine covers from the era typify this, including these fabulous illustrations from Canada’s Goblin, a monthly humor magazine.  Launched in 1921, it was in print for about ten years during which time its highly stylized, and at times witty, covers helped it to become Canada’s then most widely circulated magazine.

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(Image Source:  University of Toronto Archives)

“Now! All Together”: Songs From Long Ago

Songbooks fascinate me, particularly when they highlight song variations from earlier times.  So while browsing through a dusty stack of materials in a used bookstore a few months ago I was drawn in by this 8-page vintage booklet of songs, which was printed as a promotion around 1930 by the Dominion Life Assurance Company of Waterloo, Ontario.

This bit of ephemera is spare of graphics and contains a wide variety of songs, including songs specific to Canada (such as “O Canada!” and “Alouette”), American standards (“Home on  the Range” and “She’ll Be Coming’ Round the Mountain”), and songs indicating the then closer historical connection to Great Britain (“God Save the King” and “Loch Lomond”).  A few of these have lyrics that would not be considered racially sensitive but presumably reflected the time back then.   It’s an interesting mix of tunes, many that I’ve not heard in ages and others for which I only knew a line or two of the lyrics.

(Click image to enlarge)

Similar posts on O’Canada:

Songs & Ballads From Nova Scotia

Regent Gas Station and Sleek Modern Design

Regent Gas Station (Left View), Toronto (1949),
Designed by John Parkin, Photo by Hugh Robertson

Although these vintage images only showcase a humble gas station they’re amazingly good! That’s because they combine the modernist industrial design of distinguished Toronto architect John Parkin and the often-dramatic photography of Hugh Robertson and his team at Toronto’s former Panda Associates firm, both of whom helped popularize modern design in Canada during the 1950s and 60s.

Regent Gas Station (Right View), Toronto (1949),
Designed by John Parkin, Photo by Hugh Robertson

A trove of other vintage architectural photos can be seen at the Panda Associates Digital Image Collection, Canadian Architectural Archives, which is maintained by the University of Calgary, and in the book John C. Parkin, Archives and Photography: Reflections on the Practice and Presentation of Modern Architecture (University of Calgary Press 2013).

(Image Credits:  Hugh Robertson/Panda Associates, Canadian Architectural Archives, University of Calgary)

Vintage Picture Map Geography of Canada

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I recently came across a copy of an old school book, “Picture Map Geography of Canada and Alaska” by Vernon Quinn, that includes charming woodcut picture maps by Bruno da Osimo, a then noted Italian illustrator, for each of the Canadian provinces (other than Nunavut, which was then part of the Northwest Territories).  Originally published in 1944 and updated in 1954, it has a light but well-written chapter devoted to individual provinces.  Each map features animals, plants, activities and industries peculiar to the province depicted.  In addition to the maps (scanned in above and below), the book is adorned throughout with other delightful illustrations by da Osima (some of which I’ll compile in a future post).

alberta british-columbia manitoba-saskatchewan newfoundland nova-scotia-new-brunswick-pei ontario-2 quebec yukon

 

Similar Posts on O’Canada Blog:

1933 Quebec Tourist Road Map

Old Maps and Their Hidden Stories

Songs & Ballads From Nova Scotia

Vintage / Mod Design: The City Bus

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City Bus on Vancouver Street (about mid-1950s)

Distinctive industrial design reveals itself in many ways and, when done well, can be a genuine pleasure to take in.   While the specialness of such design is often difficult to see in our contemporary surroundings, its otherwise subtle impact jumps out when looking back at vintage images. A case in point: the humble municipal bus, operated in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and other cities across Canada.  Over this period theses buses began to display a very mod sensibility as they evolved from the severe boxiness of earlier 1930s and 1940s versions to later, during the 1950s through the 1970s, being adorned with more rounded contours, sleek curves and very stylized lines and chrome elements.

Toronto Loves Public Art!

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“Large Two Forms” (1966 & 1969), Henry Moore

Toronto’s diversity is reflected in the wide array of public art, especially sculpture, that can be seen on block after block in its downtown core.  Encounters with public art as we hustle from place to place provide moments for reflection and inspiration and help to remind us of our connections to deeper things and to one another.

These pieces from out and about merely scratch the surface of the city’s offerings. (I forgot to get the titles for a couple of these pieces.)

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.

Andrea Kastner and Rejected Things

A. Kastner, Progress (2014)

Andrea Kastner, Progress (2014)

Andrea Kastner is an up-and-coming young painter whose art deals with what she calls the “sacred nature of rejected things” and the stories that underlie society’s no longer useful objects, structures and places.  The scenes she paints are ones that are readily familiar in urban landscapes across Canada and the U.S., with the constancy of the old being torn down or pushed aside as detritus to make way for the new.

Kastner is originally from Montreal, studied art in New Brunswick and Alberta and  until recently was based in Hamilton, Ontario.  She is now located in the creative town of Iowa City, Iowa.  More of Kastner’s  terrific work can be seen at her artist website here.

A. Kastner, Noah's Ark (2013)

Andrea Kastner, Noah’s Ark (2013)

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A. Kastner, The One That Got Away (2013)

Andrea Kastner, The One That Got Away (2013)

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A. Kastner, The Inventory of Dreams (2014)

A. Kastner, The Inventory of Dreams (2014)

Joy of the Blues

Nfld -- Boat on Grass

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).

Canadian Cities in 1950s Watercolors

Edmonton

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

Wintery Inspiration

A. Philbert -- The Dream Country

“The Dream Country” by Andre Philbert

It’s definitely heavy coat and neck scarf weather around here, as it is in many places this time of year, so thoughts of winter cold are unavoidable.  This painting, “The Dream Country,” by Montreal artist, Andre Philbert, with its overwhelming shades of blue and houses set with jaunty rooflines perfectly captures the quiet chill of this time of year. More of Philbert’s deep-blue winter landscapes can be seen at the site for Toronto’s Liss Gallery.

Artist to Appreciate: Richard Ahnert

R. Ahnert -- Messenger (2012)

Richard Ahnert, Messenger (2012)

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Richard Ahnert’s anthropomorphic art is both whimsical and brilliantly provocative. This Toronto-based artist paints intriguing images of animals engaged in activities one might expect of weary modern-day city dwellers. While his work harkens back to the playful (and disturbing) posed taxidermy of the Victorian era, Ahnert’s paintings engage the viewer with considerable satire and reflection.  The images here provide only a small glimpse of his range and more of Ahnert’s fascinating paintings can be seen at his website, MyCanvas.ca: Paintings by Richard Ahnert.

R. Ahnert -- Billy Brooklyn (2011)

Richard Ahnert, Billy Brooklyn (2011)

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R. Ahnert -- Commute (2014)

Richard Ahnert, Commute (2014)

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R. Ahnert -- Feed (2014)

Richard Ahnert, Feed (2014)

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R. Ahnert -- First Light (2015)

Richard Ahnert, First Light (2015)

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R. Ahnert -- Panda Wear (2014)

Richard Ahnert, Panda Wear (2014)

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R. Ahnert -- Pride & Ponder (2013)

Richard Ahnert, Pride & Ponder (2013)

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R. Ahnert -- The Hemingway (2013)

Richard Ahnert, The Hemingway (2013)

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.

CM COMPOSITION #1

Stewart Jones, CM Composition #1 (2013)

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Urban Alley (2014)

Stewart Jones, Urban Alley (2014)

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KINGSTON WALK WAY

Stewart Jones, Kingston Walkway (Year Unknown)

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@ THE ROYAL HOTEL PICTON

Stewart Jones, Royal Hotel Picton (2014)

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HAMILTON

Stewart Jones, Hamilton (2014)

Image Credits: Stewart Jones

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.

CROSSWALK#28

 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”

SUNDAY DRIVE 25

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)

Distillery District Door and Window Combo

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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.

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Dreamy Illusions: The Surreal Art of Rob Gonsalves

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“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.

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  “Stepping Stones”

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“Written Worlds”

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“Tabletop Towers”

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R. Gonsalves 6

“Nocturnal Skating”

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“Towers of Knowledge”

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R. Gonsalves -- Beyond the Reef

“Beyond the Reef”

Image Credits: Rob Gonsalves and Huckleberry Fine Art.

They’re Giving Away Land!

Farm----2-New-Homeland

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.

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Samuel de Champlain (1574-1635)

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James Wolfe (1727-1759)

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John Graves Simcoe (1752-1806)

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Isaac Brock (1769 -1812)

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

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“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

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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!

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

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About 1948.  Yikes — looks more like a prison!

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

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 Postmarked 1935.  Street car or bus passing by.

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