A. Y. Jackson, “A Painter’s Country” – Dr. MacCallum,” The Autobiography of A. Y. Jackson, 1958

[discussing summer of 1913]

[…] I departed for Georgian Bay. […] Swimming, paddling, fishing, exploring, and looking for wild flowers, I forgot for the time being the problem of earning a living. Then the summer came to an end, the houses were closed up and my friends departed, leaving me a lot of surplus supplies. I moved into a bathing shack on Portage Island and started to paint seriously.

It was late in September and it became obvious that it was going to be difficult to keep my living quarters warm. There were large cracks between the boards through which the cold came pouring. I was at work one day covering them up with birch bark, when a motor-boat nosed on to my beach. The owner introduced himself; he was Dr James MacCallum, the friend of Lawren Harris. He wanted to see the work I was doing. I showed him and he liked it. Then he inspected the shack, pronounced it rather draughty, asked how long I was staying, and when I told him till the end of October, he said he would send someone to take me to his place at Go Home Bay where I could live in a comfortable house. When he started back I went along with him part way towards Penetang with my boat in tow.

“Where are you going when you leave the Bay?” he asked.

I said that I would probably go to the States.

“If all you young fellows go off to the States,” he growled, “art in Canada is never going to get anywhere.”

Then he made me a surprising proposition. If I would take a studio in the building he and Harris were having erected, he would guarantee my expenses for a year. Of course I accepted.


I settled into Dr MacCallum’s house and began to work.

After painting in Europe where everything was mellowed by time and human association, I found it a problem to paint a country in outward appearance pretty much as it had been when Champlain passed through its thousands of rocky islands three hundred years before.

Source: A. Y. Jackson, "A Painter’s Country – Dr. MacCallum," The Autobiography of A. Y. Jackson (Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Company, 1958), 24-25

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