Friday, November 30, 2018

November 2018: A Month Honouring Great People

I was so excited to be heading to Toronto in the beginning of November to visit and sketch at the Royal Winter Fair, but when I showed up at Exhibition Place, I discovered that the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees IATSE Local 58 stage technicians were still being locked out and I refused to cross their picket line and I sketched them instead.

They really appreciated the support and my sketch was well received on social media. 

IATSE 58 Members on the picket line at Exhibition Place, Toronto

Better yet, on November 15th, IATSE Local 58 voted in favour of ratifying a proposed contract with Exhibition Place, bringing to a close their four-month lock out.

The IATSE 58 folks weren't the only heroes that I sketched in November.

When I heard that one of my social justice heroes John Clarke - a labour, anti-capitalist, anti-poverty activist (who I first met in the 1990s through the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty ) was “retiring” in May 2019 I sketched him as well! There's not a LOT of money in anti-poverty work so friends are contributing to his pension fund here:

And then I heard about the passing of Harry Leslie Smith who was a WWII veteran, writer, passionate critic of austerity and tireless refugee advocate. I had been following him for some time on social media and when he required hospitalization, I followed his son's tweets to the end. Harry is such an inspiration and I just had to do a sketch of him as well!

I also sketched Anne Innis Dagg whose time in the spotlight has finally arrived! Her movie the "Woman Who Loves Giraffes" was being promoted and I was surprised to learn of her story for the very first time! How is it that we have a woman who is the "Jane Goodall of giraffes" from Toronto and I have never heard of her?

Mary Riter Hamilton

Mary Riter Hamilton with her dog outside her shelter

I attended a symposium in November honouring the life of artist Mary Riter Hamilton. The event was hosted by War Amps Canada and Library and Archives Canada

Mary refused to sell any of the 300 paintings that she produced overseas under the harshest of conditions, choosing to donate them to the Canadian people instead.

Mary returned in broken health and lived out the rest of her days blind in one eye and impoverished.

Mary Riter Hamilton was buried (1954) in an unmarked grave beside her husband in Port Arthur, Ontario 

Thanks to the Ontario Genealogical Society (Thunder Bay branch) and the Royal Canadian Legion, a grave marker was added in 2008.

'Trenches on the Somme', Mary Riter Hamilton
Read Josie Holford's "nevertheless she persisted" summary of Mary Riter Hamilton's life's work here:

Mary Riter Hamilton painted the temporary monuments and crosses that were built by soldiers during the war. 

Mary Riter Hamilton wanted her works to be preserved together in a national institution as a donation to Canada. In 1926, she donated over 200 of her paintings to Library and Archives Canada, some of which are displayed at the Canadian War Museum in a special exhibition until March 31, 2019.