Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Strange Coincidence


The painting no longer has pride of place in our home. It now sits on the floor in the darkest corner of the storage room in our basement, out of sight and usually out of mind. Looks innocent enough, doesn't it? Nothing Dorian Grey about it at all. Not the sort of creepy painting you would normally expect to attract the eerie powers of synchronicity.

For the first twenty years of our marriage it graced the main wall of our livingroom, wherever we happened to be living at the time.

Linda brought it with her first pay from her first job after college. It was painted by Le Roy (pronounced "wha"--not the way Roy Rogers would say it), a Montreal artist whose use of tree limbs for framing and use of very thick oil paints laid on with a pallet knife, intrigued Linda. It would be a fairly expensive purchase and Linda wrestled for days over the decision to commit the funds. But something about the painting spoke to her. Wouldn't let her go.

A fairly large painting, it stands about four feet tall and is three feet wide, including the frame. Its size made it a cumbersome object to cart around whenever we moved.

It was the first thing we hung on our wall in the first home we had ever purchased, in Callander Ontario, about a five hour drive north of Toronto. We had never intended to move to Callendar and would never have gone there if it wasn't required by the job I had at the time.

We did a lot of camping in the early years of our marriage and our favourite place to camp was in the Restoule Provincial Park, about an hours drive west of Callendar. Restoule is one of about 300 Parks run by the Province. It's important you know that or the rest of this story won't seem quite so strange.

One day we were looking through a massive, old book of woodcuttings that had been in my family for many years. The book was called Picturesque Ontario and featured hundreds of scenes from across the Province.

About half way through the book we unexpectedly found our painting or at least the woodcutting Le Roy had obviously used for inspiration. It was called "Two Explorers In Restoule Park".

So, years before we moved to Callendar, years before we had ever heard of Restoule Park, Linda had chosen a painting depicting two explorers walking through a Park she had never heard of at the time, but that would become our favourite place to camp.

But there's more.

Linda's sister is married to a man with family in North Bay, about a 10 minute drive from Callendar. Shirley, a member of that family, came to welcome us to the area. We gave her a tour of our home only to have her stop in astonishment in front of our painting.

"Is that based on the woodcut from Picturesque Ontario?" she asked.

We were surprised anyone beside ourselves had ever heard of Picturesque Ontario.

"You see the man in front," Shirley asked.

Of course we did.

"That's my great grandfather and the guy behind him is my great uncle. They took the artist with them when they were working their trap line back at the turn of the century. He had them pose like that for half an hour."

Odd little world, isn't it?