Kelly Page 2e.7

Great Canadian Art & Artists

Canadian Heroes by JD Kelly 1

Simply Fabulous! Another huge, and glorious historic print of a famous JD Kelly creation from 1895. This one is amazing, and rare, because it is still in mint condition, in its original frame and glass. We have only ever encountered one other; it was in poor condition.

What a romantic vision of the founding of Canada, below the Heights of Quebec, with Champlain, accompanied by a faithful companion, a priest, loyal Indian paddlers, and dogs, looking towards... you guessed it, the 400th anniversary of this moment, in 2008, the founding of Quebec - indeed of Canada.

And what kind of Canadian hero is this? No body armour, no machine guns, or tanks, for decimating the local population... What! And turning his back on the locals? What American commander or CNN correspondent, would dare do that in downtown Baghdad; what Canadian in camos, in southern Afghanistan?

What a novel concept for a hero! We'd better celebrate this big time next year. Maybe we're on to something here! We shall not see his kind again, any time soon. The alarming trend seems to be to fashion Canadian heroes in the mold of the gunman from Texas... spreading terror all over the world. Sorry, we meant to say freedom and democracy...

But the trend will be good for Canada's movie industry; writers are already hard at work writing raping and pillaging scripts of Canadians in Afghanistan; and lawyers are already figuring out how the Canadian taxpayer will be tapped to pay for these Rambo run amok movies... Sorry, we meant to say Great Canadian Heritage minutes...

It's a shame! By the time 2008 rolls around there won't be any money left to celebrate real Canadian heroes and achievements that were brought about by working with local populations, not shooting the hell out of everybody, and calling it nation building.

Canada's Defence Minister has recently pointed out that Canadians are in Afghanistan as retribution for the 25 Canadians killed during the - follow me on this - non-Afghan attack on the twin towers in New York.

Let's put aside, do you attack the landlord because he has bad tenants? Just because he's available, when the tenants you really want have long gone and can't be got...

So is my math wrong here, or what? We've lost almost 40 Canadian dead - and more to come - to avenge 25 killed by non-Afghans in New York?

Is this nuts or what?

Can we expect a Canadian attack at any moment on the US because at least 56 Canadians have been murdered by Americans there in the past 7 years. Then at least the killing ratio would be in our favour.

Oh sorry! I plumb forgot... We're killing hundreds of Afghans in revenge as well... Yeah, I see what you mean... We may have to disband another regiment or two...

I knew I had it wrong somewhere...

Champlain! Where are you? Canada has lost her way...

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Champlain Arrives at Quebec, 1608 - JD Kelly, 1895
Orig. print - Size - 59 x 79 cm
Found - Stratford, ON
Original frame and glass.

JD Kelly - 1862-1958 - 7

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Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Governor Frontenac

What a huge and fabulous watercolour creation by JD Kelly, featuring the Governor meeting the Iroquois on the spot where the stone walls of the Tete de Pont (that's At the Head of the Bridge for you unilinguists) Barracks now stand, just beside the entrance to the tilting bridge.

JD Kelly has captured the historic site with consummate detail. In the background is the spit of land of today's Royal Military College grounds, now crowned with the Fort Frederick Martello Tower. Beyond is Navy Bay, and the sloping hill now topped with Old Fort Henry.

Of course, the gouache, which is enormous, was just a mock-up for the colour original which JD painted when the layout was approved. Then he added details like the bear's head and trade goods.

The lithos were struck from the colour painting and sold all over.
Governor Frontenac Receives Iroquois Chiefs at Katarakoui River (Kingston, ON) 1673 - JD Kelly
Orig. gouache - Size - 54 x 81 cm
Found - Napanee, ON
Initialed & back titled, in JD Kelly's hand
Below the original titling in JD Kelly's hand, pasted to the back of the gouache.

It's amazing what kind of detail JD put into this gouache; he was obviously interested in doing a top notch sales job to make sure his design got approved.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Samuel de Champlain

JD Kelly shows us Champlain, in 1608, beside the Lachine Rapids, near Montreal, listening to two Algonquian warriors explaining about the lands and people that lie in the distance. Clearly, what they are saying has piqued his interest.

JD Kelly always showed Indians in important, and proud roles, in Canadian history as he saw it. Here he shows them as literate, using a map on birch bark to explain exactly what rivers and lakes are to be found beyond.

JD has Champlain in a pensive mood, a learning mode; a subservient role to people the priests were calling sauvages. Clearly he believes these people have something of value to say to him.

Though JD shows how some Indians were a threat to this tiny colony of Frenchmen trying to establish a home in the harsh climate of Canada, he shows many others playing key roles that ensured the survival and expansion of the European settlements.

We won't ask JD what language everyone is speaking.

Champlain à Lachine, 1612 - JD Kelly
Orig. print - Size - 36 x 44 cm
Found - Brampton, ON
Quid Pro Quo: But before the Algonquians would agree to show Champlain the interior he had to agree to join them in an attack on their mortal enemies, the Iroquois near Lake Champlain.

In those distant days, Indians had real bargaining power with white men, making agreements with the Europeans, as one nation to another, an arrangement that would last almost 300 years.

So, in 1609, Champlain agreed, and introduced firearms into Indian warfare at a battle celebrated in this old litho. He is shown shooting his arquebus with which he killed three Iroquois, and which spread terror in their ranks. After two of their chiefs were killed they fled earning the French the eternal enmity of the Iroquois of the Six Nations Confederacy.

Some 80 years later Madeleine de Verchères was fighting for her life against them.

It is a legacy of Champlain's that, 400 years later, still colours - strongly - the relationship of his descendants with the Iroquois of Quebec.

Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. - 1996, 1999, 2005

Habitation à Québec: On his own, in 1608, Champlain set up his fort below the rock at Quebec, founding what became, and remains, Canada's greatest city. Most of his original settlers died during that first winter but new ones replaced them. Champlain complained that this country had six months of winter and six of summer. (Luckily, due to global warming in our day, the balance has shifted favourable towards less winter.)

From his Habitation the ever curious Champlain went on expeditions into the interior, exploring areas no white man had seen before.

In 1613-15 he went on his most famous trips, exploring up the Ottawa River, and across the French River system to Georgian Bay and Lake Huron.

And all the time he drew maps of rivers, and lakes that no other white men even knew existed, and were usually drawn by cartographers in Germany, Holland, and Italy, from their imagination.

JD Kelly features Champlain at his table in the Habitation at Quebec, using his notes, and his vast geographical knowledge to produce the first accurate map of New France.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Samuel de Champlain

The earliest Canadian hero - at least to the vast majority of public school students in Canada - has always been Champlain.

He, more than any other man, set the destiny of New France on a firm foundation.

And he is the first personality through which most primary school students have been introduced to Canadian history.

Champlain started coming to Canada, as an explorer-geographer with other expeditions looking for regions to tap the rich furs of America. He explored up the St. Lawrence into the Saguenay, and then up to Montreal.

In 1604 he joined Sieur de Monts' attempt to start a permanent colony with some 80 men on the Ile St. Croix between Canada and the US on the Bay of Fundy.

He explored the Atlantic Coast down to Cape Cod.

The next year de Monts moved the colony across the Bay of Fundy to Port Royal in the Annapolis Basin, a place Champlain had found the year before.

It was better suited as a settlement, than St. Croix - where half the men had died the previous year - and is probably the oldest permanently settled European site in Canada.

Champlain Prepares the First Map of New France, 1617 - JD Kelly
Orig. gouache wc - Size - 39 x 46 cm
Found - Brampton, ON
Initiated in JD Kelly's hand, Prov - JD Kelly friend collection
Points to Ponder: Now just what would Champlain's room in the Habitation look like in 1617? What would he have on the walls, the table, on the mantle? And what would furniture look like back then? Mon Dieu! Headaches galore! And where could he get the answers? Certainly not from fellow artists in the Group of Seven. They weren't interested in history, or knowing what a 17th century arquebus - the gun on the table - looked like, or a period sabre or candle lantern - on the wall. Too mentally taxing, thank you...

The only furniture they knew anything about was the canvas folding stool on which they preferred to plunk themselves down, in front of some round or pointy hill that didn't move too far, so they could paint a rough approximation of it.. Accuracy wasn't their bag either. An impression, was good enough for them...

"Look Kelly! Give us something we can see - and do quick! Doing all this detailed, imagining stuff across the centuries takes way too much time and effort. Hey, we're scenery painters, not intellectuals like your historical artist friends Hider, Heming, Jefferys, and Staples. They spend as much time researching information as they do painting. Can't seem to make up their minds, if they're going to be artists or historians? If they keep this up they won't be a success as either! As for us, we'd rather paint a house, any day, than read a book!"