House Page 19

Great Canadian Houses

Old Fort Henry, Kingston, ON -1832

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Canada's Lost Art Treasures:

Acquired some time ago, at a Toronto art auction, was this picture, a pastel painting advertised as "Lighthouse by the Seashore!!!"

Unfortunately, like so many old paintings one finds at auctions, this one was not signed.

As a result it aroused no bidding interest...Lighthouses by the seashore were not popular at this auction. Probably somewhere in France, or on the south coast of England. Art dealers snorted in disdain...

The painting has a wonderfully evocative mood created by a talented artist. It was probably painted in the late Victorian or Edwardian eras. But you think you recognize the place...

So you end up with what everybody hates at art auctions: an anonymous painting without a name or location.

It happens hundreds of times at auctions every year.

What do you do next? Find the lighthouse; that's what!

Lighthouse by the Seashore - c 1910
Orig. pastel & wc on board - Image Size - 17 x 40 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
Noted on back as painted by "Henry"




After removing the rotten backing and the square nails (in use till c. 1880), was the old scrawl... and a surprise...

"Dear, This is one of Henry's water scenes - you will recognize it - I feared of sending the glass lest it cut into the picture in the mail."

Probably "Henry" had just died and a brother or friend was repatriating his effects to his relatives.

Now begins the task of trying to figure out who Henry might have been - possibly a painter from the Kingston region in the 1890s.

Who could Henry be?? What do you do?

Well keep your eyes open as the years go by... That's what we did. Then one day...

At an antique shop we thought we recognized a style of painting: the backlit sun through the clouds shimmering on the water, and also a pastel, using the same palette below. Hmmmmh....

Except this one had a name on the bottom.... Good!

But not for long; the name was WH Sweet... No Henry in sight!

Great disappointment!

Hmmmh... Better take a picture and check his initials...

When we got home we found WH stood for William Henry Sweet, 1889-1949. (Another possible candidate, Walter Henry Sweet (1889-1943) was a British painter, but appears never to have been in Canada.)

Perfect! As we had guessed in the shop, this was another one of Henry's Canadian "water scenes"... And a century ago it was fairly common that people went by their second name.

So everything fit, and we, quite possibly, had a Henry Sweet painting of Deadman's Bay, Old Fort Henry, Kingston, Ontario.

Unfortunately we could find no official listing for Canadian painter William Henry Sweet, anywhere. So the search continues...

Another Great Canadian Heritage treasure saved from the trash heap of history, by giving a painting - which a professional Canadian art appraiser had passed off as a fanciful location by an unknown artist - its correct place name, and the name of its Canadian artist.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Those more knowledgeable - than art dealers - about Canadian historic sites will, of course, recognize the southern slope of Old Fort Henry at Kingston, ON.

The "lighthouse" is, in fact, the "ditch tower" at the end of a long limestone lined trench that runs from the side of the fort down to the water, commanded by carronades that could rake down it to prevent a land attack from the right, sweeping around to get in through the weak left, water side. The ditch tower here is on Deadman's Bay, opposite Cedar Island. Bristling on the hillside are chimneys of the casemated redoubt built in 1832 to fend off possible American attacks.

Its walls are below ground level (redoubt) to prevent canon fire from knocking them down, and the rooms have vaulted ceilings (casemates) to resist bombardment.

The foreground shows a dock which once served the fort and the sunken pilings of an older dock.

Old Fort Henry
Orig. postcard - Size - 3.5" x 5.5"
Found - Pasadena, CA
Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. - 1996, 1999, 2005
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure The most fabulous Canadian German prisoner-of-war item we have seen.

During World War I and II, Old Fort Henry hosted captured German prisoners-of-war.

This large and fabulous frame, featuring Canada's native Indians was carved, out of a single piece of wood, by a talented prisoner, to wile away the time. He probably gave it as a gift, to a favourite Canadian guard.

Prisoners also painted the walls of one of the rooms which they used as a canteen, which can still be seen by tourists.

German Prisoner-of-War Frame, Old Fort Henry, 1915
Orig. carved photo postcard frame - Size - 33 x 61 cm
Found - Palgrave, ON














Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Pvt Edward Brereton, (detail)
Orig. postcard - Size - 9 x 14 cm
Found - Winnipeg, MB

One of the men posted to Old Fort Henry during this period was Pvt. Edward Brereton, who autographed this photo postcard to Pte. AC Collins, 3rd CGR, Fort Henry, Kingston, Ont.

CGR was the Canadian Garrison Regiment, in this case, guarding prisoners-of-war in the fort.

Perhaps one of them, through kindnesses shown to prisoners, shut up far from home, was made a gift of the picture frame, into which Edward's photo fits perfectly...