Whale Page 33

Great Canadian Art & Artists

John Claude Whale 1 - (1852-1905)

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Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
The Great Western Crossing the Viaduct, Paris, Ontario c 1870, John Claude Whale
Orig. oil on canvas - Size - 21" x 34"
Found - Bowmanville, ON
Signed, Estate of The Archbishop of Toronto, His Eminence Gerald Emmett Cardinal Carter, 1912-2003
A Parisian couple in their Sunday best wave at the marvel of the age, the train steaming from London to Hamilton, as cows, feigning disinterest, prefer to graze, or drink in the pure waters of the Grand River.

Then and Now:
A century and a half later, the wooden trestle has been replaced with one of concrete, immediately above a water control dam, where, a few days after the picture was taken, two canoeists drowned, sucked in by the undertow.

The far shore is still undeveloped, but the advance of civilization has transformed the near side, where John Claude sat to paint this bucolic scene, probably for a rich local merchant. The merchant's descendants now occupy the picturesque villas that overlook the inviting waters of the Grand River!









Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter 1912-2003

This massive Great Canadian Historic Treasure was long owned by His Eminence, Gerald Emmett Cardinal Carter, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, whose broad interest in Canadian history motivated him to surrounding himself with art that celebrated Canadian heritage and the talent of its great artists.

A father of the Second Vatican Council, this intellectual priest and educator sought all his life to balance the conservative heritage of the Church with the liberal needs of his flock, through open-minded and constructive dialogue.

Those Whale Boys!

John Claude Whale was the son of Robert Reginald Whale (1805-1887), who had brought his wife Ellen, and five children, from England in 1852, and settled in Burford, Canada West (Ontario).In 1864 the family moved to nearby Brantford.

There he established a family studio. The patriarch, Robert Reginald, inspired family members to join his painting enterprise, including sons John Claude (1852-1905), and Robert Heard (1857-1906), as well as nephew John Hicks Whale (1829-1905).

Robert Reginald was a self-taught painter who learned his craft by copying the masters in private collections and in the National Gallery (London, England). He painted in oils, and chose a wide variety of subjects: landscapes, animal, genre, portraits, and still lifes. A main inspiration was the painting style of British masters Reynolds and Constable.

In 1865 Robert Reginald painted a panorama illustrating events in the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, and took it on tour around the province, charging entrance. Probably it was sectioned into panels for which his sons were recruited to paint parts. In an age when pictorial magazines were in black and white, and in short supply, his colourful panels featuring the bloody and heroic events of the rebellion in India must have attracted as much attention, from the average Ontarian, then, as the murder and mayhem of TV crime shows intrigue today's illiterati.

The sons established studios of their own and all travelled the western Ontario art circuit seeking painting commissions of landscapes and portraits from local elites.

They concentrated on painting the landscapes of south western Ontario, especially the Grand River Valley, and the Niagara Escarpment around Hamilton and Dundas, Ontario. The coming of the railway was a subject of special interest during the time in which they painted.

The Whales were contemporaries of another British Canadian painter John Herbert Caddy of London and Hamilton, Ontario.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

A fabulous view of an Ontario farm, before the machine age, just starting to pay back years of hard labour that have been put into it.

A bridge of logs has tamed a creek, and rail fences section off patches of ground that have been wrested from the wilderness.

Stumps of trees have been left to rot, where, only short years before, the primeval forest reigned supreme. But an elm, so identified with Ontario farm country, has been left.

Two men gather in the grain. The first, using a grain cradle, popular between 1830-1860, will cut and lay down the stalks. The other follows behind, with a rake to gather them up and tie them into bundles, stand them up - or shock them - so they can dry out for another two weeks, to prepare them for threshing.

But this too will be done by hand; the bundles placed on a threshing floor, and the grain beaten out of the stalks with wooden flails. In the cabin, the women of the household are stoking the fire to prepare supper for their weary men.

The Grain Harvest, Ontario Farm c 1875, John Claude Whale
Orig. oil on canvas - Size - 19" x 30"
Found - Bowmanville, ON
Signed, JC Whale
Many Ontario farm houses had a "summer kitchen" addition added to the back, where the cooking was done. These sometimes had a bell on top to "ring in" the hands from the fields.
Another stunning and huge JC Whale painting, in a marvellous frame, which has recently come to light, after being buried in a private collection for over a hundred years, is this wonderful harvest scene from Ontario.

It captures, wonderfully, a vignette of farming activities as they were when Canada became a Dominion in 1867. Everything was done by hand in the days before machines transformed family farming.

Robert Reginald Whale (1805-1887)

One of Canada's most famous paintings of the nineteenth century has come out of a private collection for the first time in many decades.

The patriarch of the Whale clan painted this celebrated scene of the Michigan Central circling above the Canadian Horseshoe Falls at Niagara, probably in the 1860s. Train access had accelerated tourist visits from around the world, bringing in hordes of sight-seers eager to witness this awesome water-powered event.

Since then the erosive force of the waterfall has cut back the cliff edge a long way to the right.

But every year the amount of water flow is reduced.


With the new diversion expansion project, now being built by Ontario Hydro, to provide us with evermore expensive electricity, the water flow that makes no money will trickle to a dribbling stream. Niagara Falls will soon have to be remarketed, to future tourists, as a quarry. You will see a greater fluvial torrent in your toilet bowl when you flush... When you do, pause, and enjoy the view, while it lasts, for even there those stingy Swede eco-toilists are threatening to reduce the flow. If you, yourself, have noticed a worrisome decline in water flow, don't write your Member of Parliament - see a doctor...

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