painting: hewers of wood and drawers of H2O

Hewers of wood and drawers of water. That is the traditional and somewhat pejorative view of Canada. And although Canada likes to think of themselves as a global “soft power” and memeber of the Group of Eight ( G8 ) it remains something of an illusion. Unfortunately, the country is still branch plant/branch office mentality, and like Russia we import technology and export raw materials and agriculture. Very much an industrial age phenomenon, quite unprepared for the information age; our internet resembles glorified dial-up compared to other nations. Still, not much fish left here, but lots of water and a few logs for those still buying newspapers.  Its hard to believe that in a country of 34 million, we manufacture or even import almost no art supplies. There are a few very small producers; one we actually contacted about making some mediums for us, and it turns out the proudly maple leaf waving brand is a couple who has several extra bathtubs in their home to crank out the goods.

Paul Kane. Read More:

In many respects, Canada then is like Russia since Catherine the Great, except we have curling and don’t take the name of the Lord in vain since we may need him for a draw to the button. And don’t have erotic Rococo furniture in the House of Commons. What I mean is that the number of artists and decorative painters in Canada is way ahead proportionally to the U.S. but we make almost nothing here. Australia, by contrast has a number of makers such as Chroma and M. Graham, TAG and others, and they succeed in exporting.  So, given our limited local choices the best brands we have imported are from Daler-Rowney. System 3 and System 3 Heavy Body are superior than average quality for a decent price. At one time the stuff in the metal tubes used to smell quite bad, but that problem has been solved. They also have a line called Graduate, slightly less pigment heavy that makes a great student grade. Hey, at least its not made in China.

Read More: ---Available in 75 & 150ml tubes, 250 & 500ml pots, the System 3 Original range consists of 60 colours, with 16 of the most popular colours also available in 2.25 litre, and 6 colours in 1 litre pots. There is also an assortment of sets made up of the key colours, allowing a comprehensive mixing capability. The System 3 Heavy Body range consists of 34 colours and is available in 75 & 150ml tubes, with 10 popular colours also in 500ml pots.---


( see link at end) Take for instance, a simple phrase from Harold Innis, who once indicated that we are a nation of “hewers of wood, and drawers of water”. It is part of his staples theory, in which Canada’s cultural, political, and economic history and status can be traced to the extraction and exploitation of resources, including timber, lumber and water, but also beaver fur, cod fish, wheat, and metals. Typically, these natural resources have been exported to either the British or the Americans empires, or both. (It is no coincidence that much of the English-language Canadian identity is wrapped in comparisons and contrasts with the British and Americans.)…

Read More: ---The Death of General Wolfe. Benjamin West, oil on canvas, 1771 (Chris Taylor | National Gallery of Canada) Whatever separatists and revisionists may say, the inarguable truth is that, had the war gone differently, the Canada (and Québec) we know today would not exist in their present form. One visionary of the age was William Pitt the Elder, who realised that European territorial conquests would inevitably be negotiated and bartered back, whereas lucrative colonies might change hands in a more permanent fashion. And Pitt’s game-changing schemes would not have laid the foundations of an Empire on which the sun never sets without men like Major General James Wolfe.---

…Innis was developing these ideas mid 20th century, but I suspect that in these more secular times, most people don’t realize it’s a biblical turn of phrase (from Joshua 9), well worn before the question of Canadian identity might even have appeared, and really not all that positive. In Joshua, to be a hewer of wood or drawer of water (a woodcutter or water carrier) is to be a slave to the community. These are menial tasks that Joshua selected deliberately for a group of people to punish them for an act of deception. In the 18th or 19th century, many writers rejected the label outright, and understood that to be hewer or drawer was, at the very least, to be of the lower class, landless, or to accept a yoke of enslavement to another. Innis was not exactly complementing Canadians, it was a clear observation on Canada’s history as a colony whose role was to deliver the raw materials and resources to sustain industrialization and empires elsewhere. Read More:


POSTER ADVERTISING FOR IMMIGRANTS TO COME TO CANADA -- Poster from Library and Archives Canada: Free farms for the million, ca. 1893 -- The Department of the Interior and travel companies with a vested interest in settling the Prairies s

imes joined forces to produce posters that promoted western immigration. The one shown here was printed on a lithographic press, a method which allowed bright colours and variations in tone. The poster includes an advertisement for the Canadian Pacific Railway and features vignettes showing five government-run experimental farms. (link: )/pws

Many of them did not enjoy it one bit. There are reports of Ukrainian pioneers bursting into tears upon sighting their new Alberta home, Atlantic colonists whose stomach twisted into knots when they remembered the day they decided to set out for Canada, disenchanted Upper Canadians who drowned their sorrows in a constant stupor of cheap, rancid whiskey.

“Disillusionment, disappointment, sometimes mixed with a dose of indignation about the false visions which were used to lure them to that foreign land,” said a Dutch newspaper in a 1925 summary of immigrant experience.

But for all the death, privation, suicide, depression and starvation of Canada, thousands stayed — and millions of us claim them as ancestors. Never mind the modern tales of trained Iranian PhD holders driving Vancouver cabs: What does it mean to be a country founded on misery? Read More:

Read More: Image: ---Conrad Black:What makes Canada dull to the Americans for whom Max Boot speaks is the comparative absence of violence, and the lack of the great American hype and star systems that elevate teeming annual crops of evanescent and vapid American celebrities into icons strutting and fretting their brief hour on a vast stage before 90% of them join the Pentagonal pantheon of American triviality. What makes Canada dull is precisely what makes America violent and garish — its least attractive, though not, unfortunately, its least prominent characteristics.


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