Tuesday... our second day day out was certainly a day for "rainy day feelings". It was an entire day of off and on again drizzle and cold - certainly not a banner day for plein air painting. I choose not to use an umbrella... just a personal thingy and Deb really hates being cold... soooooooo... enter Plan B!
I have been painting in the Park every fall for over thirty years and few sorties at this time of the year have been entirely rain free. Rain... cold... mist and greyed colour are a part of the Park's wilderness mystique for "Me"... and I love these times as much as the "blue bird days" preferred by most. It is simply a part of Autmn's glory!
I had never in all of those years taken the time away from my painting to visit any of the exhibits scattered throughout the Park... especially one that I had always wanted to visit at the East Gate entrance... The Logging Museum. I have often painted logging pictures... especially those that included horses over the years and have read lots about early logging both inside the Park and in Ontario in general.
Before the Park became destination for fishing, hunting, camping, canoeing, hiking and leisure at the turn of the century, it was a wild, untamed, untraveled and untouched part of Canada. The exception was the early presence of First Nations people, namely the Algonkians and Ojibwa, who fished and hunted for their existence, using the myriad of interlocking lakes, rivers and streams to move about by canoe. Their millenia old routes would become the first highways for European penetration, settlement and development and remain today, the routes and portages used for interior canoeing, fishing and back packing.
Ontario... or Upper Canada, as it was called prior to Confederation in 1867 was entirely forested southward right down to the shores of the Great lakes and St Lawrence River with gigantic white pine. Along with the beaver and fur industry, logging and timber export to Europe were to become the driving forces for the rapid settlement and economic development of our province.
Newly laid railroads and rivers formed routes for timber to be delivered to overseas markets. Algonquin Park and the areas abutting it became logging and lumbering hubs in this new industry. Lumber barons acquired... or rather stole vast stands of timber through government favour and wasted neither time nor capital to clear cut these resources almost to extinction. Very few of the first massive forest stands of white pine or oak remain in the Province... and they are once again under threat of the chainsaw in Temagami and Algonquin Park.
We decided to spend the day "noodlin' about"... rather than wasting it with unsuccessful and frustrating attempts to paint... visiting these exhibits instead. I must honestly admit... it was a worthwhile and unexpected successful adventure. The Logging Museum... free to the visitor, except for the price of the usual Park day usage pass ($13.00) was an exceptionally interesting and comprehensive outdoor visual tour. It was a 2 kilometer woodland loop of sites that carried one through the life of a bush logger and included every step a tree took in its harvesting... from its felling... preparation...through to its loading on Europe-bound sailing vessels at Quebec City.
One really came away with a fuller appreciation of the life of hardships, the skills and hardiness of these overworked and underpaid immigrants from the British Isles, Poland and Scandanavia. Their early presence is clearly etched in the fabric of today's Park landscape. Tell tale names of family and place "speak" of their influence: Poland, Wilno, Galaeiry Lake, Bancroft, Pembroke, Rockingham, Interlaken -the list is endless.
We also revisited the Park Visitor's Center, where I had exhibited in the annual fall group show "Mystery in the Park" last season. This Centre has high quality dioramas depicting life from First People times to the present and very natural wildlife, flora and fauna of the Park exhibits. It also has an art gallery, restaurant and gift shop that caters to the souvenir needs of the thousands of Park visitors year round. A "must visit" for any Algonquin visitor!
At this point, I will leave further explanation to my digital images to offer a guided tour for this one rainy day intrusion into our otherwise dry Fall Algonquin painting adventure. Rainy day feelings ... for sure. What painter wants to be "rained on"? Plan B insures one needn't be..."rained out"!
Part three... and more sketches...tomorrow! Stay tuned .