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Little Log House, a woodcut, by Walter J. Phillips

Walter J. Phillips (25 October 1884 – 5 July 1963) was born in Lincolnshire, England and studied at the Birmingham School of Art.

He moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1913 where he lived for 28 years. He died in 1963 in Victoria, British Columbia. He was a resident artist at the Banff Centre, then known as the Banff School of Fine Arts. He became a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. I love his art.

Phillips was very interested in Japanese prints. The work shown above is a woodcut.

Many new Canadians first settled in Winnipeg. My husband’s grandmother, the wife of a British aristocrat, was sent to Winnipeg. Her husband claimed their son was conceived by a “lover.” I suspect he wanted a younger wife. Fortunately, her son received a good education and always looked after his disconsolate mother.

You may remember that Winnipeg had been the Earl of Selkirk‘s Red River Colony. After Rupert’s Land was purchased by a fledging confederation (c. 1867). Louis Riel negotiated Manitoba’s entry into Confederation. He was hanged in 1885 for the execution of Orangeman Thomas ScottOrangemen prevented French-speaking and Catholic Canadians from settling in the land the legendary voyageurs had opened up. They were educated in English-language schools. The matter was not solved until the Official Languages Act of 1969, and not altogether.

Moreover, the newly confederated Canada sent Amerindians to reservations. Many Canadians have Amerindian ancestry, prairie Métis, primarily, but also the people of Quebec and other provinces. Many settlers to New France married Amerindian women because France was not sending women to its colony. 

The Great Plains

I lived in Regina in the late 1970s, but my work was not related to my professional qualifications. I was offered a position as translator in Winnipeg, but decided to accept a teaching position at St. Francis Xavier University, in Nova Scotia. I loved Nova Scotia, but regret my decision to teach at StFX. Everything went wrong. The life of a translator would have suited me and I loved the prairies. One could see forever.

So here I am. Probably a descendant of an Amerindian who lived in the 1600s and the former wife of a British aristocrat. My past has been leaping at me from behind. Do you think this is a temporary disorder, or am I about to write a book?

What will 2019 bring?

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation just published an interesting document which I am enclosing:

Ode to Manitoba winter: Love it or hate it, season has inspired artists for 200 years

It features this lovely painting.

Season’s Greetings to everyone 💛

Our Street in Winnipeg, 1933, by Walter J. Phillips. (Loch Gallery, Calgary) (the CBC)


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Walter J. Phillips’ The Red River in Winter, 1927, shows the blue shadows on snow that he loved. (National Gallery of Canada)

© Micheline Walker
2 January 2019