Sunday Evening Reflection: The Words of Emily Carr

More than ever was I convinced that the old way of seeing was inadequate to express this big country of ours, her depth, her height, her unbounded wildness, silences too strong to be broken – nor could ten million cameras, through their mechanical boxes, ever show real Canada. It had to be sensed, passed through live minds, sensed and loved.”

Emily Carr, Growing Pains: The Autobiography of Emily Carr

Emily Carr (December 13, 1871 – March 2, 1945) is considered a Canadian icon. An artist and writer, she was inspired and influenced by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. She is considered one of the first writers and chroniclers about life in British Columbia.

When Emily was 27, she traveled to a village near Ucluelet, located on the west side of Vancouver Island. This was the home of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. It was a pivotal moment, which made a profound and lasting impression, marking the beginning of the sketches of and visits to Aboriginal villages.

Adopting the name of Klee Wyck, she visited First Nations’ village of Haida Gwaii, the Upper Skeena River, and Alert Bay.

Emily’s paintings captured the spirit of Canada in a modern style. As she aged, her paintings reflected an increasing fear of the environmental impact of industrial logging and the ecological effects on the lives of Indigenous people.

Please join me on a visit to Emily Carr House, Victoria B.C. As I walked through Emily’s garden, I felt her presence and voice as I read her quotes out loud to the sounds of a summer day.

A apple that fell from Emily’s apple trees.

39 Comments Add yours

  1. judilyn says:

    Love the cat with his slightly worn, and probably hastily-attached ribbon ’round his neck. Inscrutable and aloof! The yellow flowers shown in the last of the video hearken back to the paler buttercup of the house. A brain treat! ;->

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Sending hugs back with all speed. I loved that cat, sitting in the sun without a care in the world and without any thought to the visitors that walked through the garden. I really enjoyed Emily Carr House. It was almost torn down several decades ago, but thankfully in 1964, MP David Groos saved the building from demolition and turned it over to the Emily Carr Foundation three years later, for use as an art gallery and school known as the Emily Carr Arts Centre. In 1976, the provincial government purchased the property, and helped return the building to its original condition. It is a beautiful place to visit – thank you for joining me!!!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. judilyn says:

        I just played the video for NOLA Boy and he is all teared up!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Clanmother says:

        Give big hugs to NOLA Boy for me!! Made my day!!! Hugs.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dave Astor says:

    Fabulous presentation about Emily Carr! (Including great quotes and great reading of those quotes.) Thank you, Rebecca!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am delighted that you joined me on this tour. Emily Carr House is usually open, but was closed the day that I went through the garden reading her quotes. The closure was in place because that was the day of the climate change march to the Victoria legislature buildings – the day the world came together in support of climate action. As we watched everyone walking by Emily’s house, I imagined how Emily would be pleased to know that many had taken up her environmental concerns. Emily’s voice continues to inspire. We have big shoes to fill – so I’m trying to grow my feet. Many thanks for our wonderful conversations.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. cindy knoke says:

    She gives me goosebumps! Wonderful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Thank you Cindy. You and me both – goosebumps!!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this post and the amazing video. Brilliant!

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I was surprised to see that the narrator of the video is the actor who plays Hap Shaughnessy from the Red Green Show!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Clanmother says:

        Gordon Pinsent is a Canadian treasure!!

        Like

  4. Klausbernd says:

    Dear Clanmother,
    thanks for telling us about Emily Carr 🙂 🙂 We hadn’t heard of her before. You with the apple, what a beautiful picture that is.
    Wishing you a great week and sending hugs & kisses
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Thank you for joining me on my walk through Emily’s garden. I had to add the photo of the Apple because it brings up so many images and symbols. You know more about this than I do. But the story that I most particularly like is when Eris the Goddess of Discord finds out, to her chagrin, that she was un-invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. The Golden Apple, the fruit of temptation, reminds me that one decision can change the world. Emily Carr was out of step with the Victoria society, an eccentric that was dedicated to her art. She wanted to make a visual record of Totem Poles before they disappeared. She had her first heart attack in 1937, which was the beginning of her health issues. That was when she turned to writing, the first book being “Klee Wyck” a collection of short stories of her experiences with the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. I haven’t read the book, but it is on my every growing “to-read” list. Sending much love and hugs to my dear friends, the Fab Four of Cley!

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Klausbernd says:

        Dear Clanmother Rebecca,
        concerning your reading: You told us that you will start to read read “Faust”. Goethe worked on it lifelong and especially after visits from Alexander von Humboldt. Faust has quite a lot characteristics of Humboldt, except that Humboldt wasn’t interested in women. There was never any Gretchen in his life.
        Women and the apple … That was quite often the beginning of desaster from paradise lost to the downfall of Troy and Swowwhite. Well, that’s the patriarchic perspective. It’s strange that this archetype of temptation is seen negative although men like to be seduced and women like to seduce.
        We are off now to the beach. Dina wants to take some photographs there.
        Love and hugs
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Clanmother says:

        Have fun at the beach! I remember walking along that shoreline. I have never heard of Alexander Von Humboldt (how is this possible – YIKES!!). What an extraordinary man and what an remarkable life. I am looking forward to digging more into his life and his prodigious work. I am now with “Faust” and have found the translations by Faust by Bayard Taylor. I have it in audio and book format so that I can listen and read at the same time. What I am most interested in now is the translation of German into English to answer the question – Is there anything lost in the translation. I particularly appreciate this thought that is found in the forward: “Poetry is not simply a fashion of expression: it is the form of expression absolutely required by a certain class of ideas.” Looking forward to seeing Dina’s photographs. Lots of love and hugs coming back with all speed to my dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Klausbernd says:

        Dear Rebecca,
        we had a great time at the beach 🙂
        The problem with translating such a poetical text is either one gets the rhythm correct or the rhymes and the assonances. I only had a look in the “Faust” translation by Philip Wayne (Penguin Classics) but I never really compared the original with the translation. You inspired me to have a short look into the translation of the Prologue in Haven. Well, you get an idea how Goethe uses rhythm and rhyme, but I have to say in German it’s a much more elegant flow of the words. Nevertheless, it’s quite good translated and you surely get the gist of it.
        Lots of HUGS xxx
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Clanmother says:

        Thank you Klausbernd! I am now with Faust and Wagner and am enjoying reading and listening. What I find compelling is that we can relate to Faust. I am also looking at the background as I go along. For example I did not know that Faust was based on the historical Johann Georg Faust (1480 – 1540). So this is going to be a long and joyful read. I’m going to savour the moments. Thank you. Hugs coming back to my dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Klausbernd says:

        Dear Rebecca,
        from this scene Faust and Wagner a lot of proverbs are taken over into the everyday German language.
        Faust is based on the historical Faust and soon after his death the chapbook Faust was published in Germany in 1587. Goethe knew Marlowe’s Faust as well.
        Happy reading! I see “Faust I and II” as the German National Epic (actually the middle eval “Nibelungenlied” is usually seen as the German National Epic).
        With lots of love and warm greetings from the cold sea
        Klausbernd 🙂
        and the rest of The Fab Four of Cley

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Mary Jo Malo says:

    What a strong zest for living, nothing lukewarm about her! I agree with her observation of nature being wild growth with things all entangled and thriving. Nature, along with Emily it seems, was obviously out of step with Victorian society. We grow where we go, and that’s our story 🙂 Lovely video and recitation as always! Hugs (never taken for granted) !!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I love that thought – “We grow where we go, and that our story.” Emily certainly a unusual story, one that continues to influence society. According to my research, in the 1980’s, when political correctness came into vogue, her work was harshly criticized by some for her “appropriation” of Aboriginal images. It is easy to look back and judge a different time through the lens of new knowledge. I think that Emily just wanted to preserve what she believed would be forgotten. She looked at things differently and reminds me that we need, as you say, “grow where we go…”. Hugs come back!!!

      Liked by 4 people

  6. A really lovely tour around Emily’s house and garden, dear Rebecca. I hadn’t heard of her before but enjoyed your reading of her quotes. She was obviously very much in love with her country and its people. What a stunning photo of you holding the apple from her tree. I’m smiling back at you. 😍🤗

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Ir was a lovely September day and the sun gave the garden a beautiful glow. Emily Carr lived a very different life from her contemporaries. She came from an educated, and affluent family that maintained strict English manners and values (her family had immigrated from England). Without any serious artistic role models, she found her way – a very difficult way. There was a 15 year period in her life that she did very little painting. It wasn’t until she was 57 years old that she was discovered. Now, she is considered an Canadian icon. Sometimes it takes society time to understand art. I’m so glad that you joined me!!! Hugs coming back your way.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. What a beautiful house! I loved the setup too, such a green environment. I love these videos of yours where we can hear your voice, it makes this post even more personal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      You would be very interested in how this property was brought back to its original, or almost original, state. Emily Carr House passed through the Carr family for several years, before it was sold. The new owner used the house as a rental property. It was extensively updated following a 1938 fire. In 1964, when the house was scheduled fro demolition, MP David Groos saved it, turning it over the Emily Carr Foundation. It became known as the Emily Carr Arts Centre. In 1976, the provincial government purchased the property and supported the restoration. This meant undoing many of the additions and modernizations. The wood finishes were restored from scratch, while the exterior of the house was returned to its original design and color using period photos from Emily Carr’s lifetime., The interior of the house is faithful to the original, following the painstaking removal of layers of newer paint and wallpaper to discover the original pattern and colors used inside. It was a labour of love. This link gives the information on the architects involved in the restoration. https://victoriaheritagefoundation.ca/HReg/JamesB/Government207.html

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This is amazing! Now I like it even more 👏🏼👌🏼 Have you ever been inside? What is it like right now?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Clanmother says:

        I made this video up a few months back and it has some photos of the inside of Emily Carr House. https://vimeo.com/343360815

        Like

  8. Ms Frances says:

    Thank you for this kind and loving story about a Canadian Icon. She saw Canada though eyes of love and care. She already cared for the lovely countryside, was concerned about taking care of the trees and saving the valuable and simple way of life. I really enjoyed your comments and photos-they brought a freshness to my morning. The photo of the house, thankfully saved and restored and made a valuable place for her art and contributions.is somewhat very typical of her time. I love the photo of the cat. Thank you for this post, in a way it takes me back to my young life.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Whenever we travel to Victoria, Emily Carr House is my first place to visit. The interior is immaculate and there is always a heartfelt welcome when you come through the door. After a self-guided tour (there are guided tours as well), tea is served in the enclosed porch that overlooks the garden. The first time a walked by the cat, I thought that she was alive. I’m so glad your enjoyed the post and that you joined me in Emily’s garden!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Resa says:

    How wonderful!
    I’ve always adored Emily’s art, but I never knew she wrote. Rebecca, you did her words justice in your reading. You are excellent at recitations!
    Love the video trip. These are such a nice feature here.
    Thank you!
    (Did you eat the apple?)

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I particularly appreciated the quotation accompanying the painting, “Above the Gravel Pit,” about wanting to go out in a gush, not drops. It reminds me a of a story I read in Passager, a literary journal for writers over fifty, in which a husband and a wife, both painters, as they grew older, gave up every part of their lives so that they could paint, knowing time was running out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I have found that moments have taken on a sweeter, more poignant meaning as I age. One of the first poems I recited, on this theme, was by Marie de Andrade on “The Valuable Time of Maturity. https://vimeo.com/350616450

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Jean-Jacques says:

    The great Emily Carr… what a wonderful reminder of this talented lady who paid homage to the true and original inhabitants of this country of Kanata, said to be the original Huron-Iroquois name for Canada.
    Thank you Rebecca for this educational reminder of our this important part of our Canadian heritage…!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I agree – Emily is an important part of Canadian heritage – one that was not recognized during her lifetime. In many ways, even now we do not have a complete understanding. We continue to learn and explore…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This is another beauty. What a woman. I will be finding out more about her works. And her words are lovely. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Oh Shehanne – you will be fascinated by Emily. Her family immigrated from England to Canada and settled in Victoria. An eccentric who recognized over a century ago that we would be facing our current environmental issues. Another Canadian woman who would be of interest to you is E. Pauline Johnson. https://soundcloud.com/rebecca_clanmother/episode-42-tea-with-e-pauline-johnson

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This lady’s words are so reflective I’m not surprised she could see to today. Reading them it seems to me she absorbed nature through her fingertips and anyone doing that knows nature and nature really rules the planet I feel. I mean we can kid ourselves but what is going on right now is no joke. . Off to look at this post. xxxxxxxxyou for this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      So glad we connected!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Me too. I have bookmarked your wonderful blog so as to dip my way through it. Loving the posts I’ve read. They are soul touching xxxxx

        Liked by 2 people

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