Louisa was so proud of her little house on Grand Ave in London, spending hours in her garden or crocheting in her sun room. She made beautiful crocheted doilies and tablecloths. She knitted slippers for all her grandchildren each year for Christmas. She continued doing housework a couple days a week until she was 75 years of age. Louisa kept her English ways for a long time, eating her big meal at noon and never eating watermelon with her hands. She never drove a car. Instead, she would walk half an hour to the Covent Garden Market to buy her groceries, carrying home what she had purchased. Milk and meat were delivered weekly by the milk man.
As a very independent woman, Louisa was able to look after herself until 95 years of age, when she had caregivers come in to help her out. She always said she wanted to live in her little home until she was 100 years old, “if it be thy will” and she did it. She lived there until she was 100 and 7 months.
In the last year of her life, Louisa kept saying she wanted to go home to see her mother again. By June 1990, she stopped eating and became very withdrawn. Like everything else in her life, Louisa decided when it was time to go. She passed away on July 15, 1990 just a few weeks short of her 102nd birthday.
I learned so much from this incredibly hard-working and independent woman.
Louisa was a wonderful example of how to rise above challenges through faith, a sense of humor and with the love and support of family. She had the strength to stand up for what was right during a time when women were expected to be submissive and were not considered “persons” in the British North America Act created by the Dominion of Canada.
Louisa’s favorite Bible passage was Psalm 23 and she would repeat it often. It gave her strength to get through the worst of times and hope that better times would prevail. She had the perseverance, strength of resolve and the ability to make her own way despite her circumstances.
Her life story gives me strength to endure hardships and hope for a better life.
Excerpts from Louisa’s Journey written by Sue Methuen:
“At the age of 12 I was told I had enough education for a girl and was sent to work in a hotel. I missed my sisters so much that I used to sneak home sometimes, late at night, just to see them. While working at the hotel I met a young man named Frederick Benjamin Boorman. Fred was trained as a barber from a young age and he was working at the same hotel. He was a couple years older than me and so handsome!
By 1913 times were very hard for Fred and me. We had been married for just over three years and we now felt like our luck had run out. Both Fred and I were fed up with everything. Then one day while Fred was delivering some fish to a customer, she mentioned that her nephew in London, Ontario, Canada may be able to help us. The three of us set sail from Southampton, England on July 4, 1913. I was 25 years old, Fred 27 and Ellen nearly three. We suffered terribly that first winter. The temperature went down to -35°F at times, and we had no boots or warm clothes for this weather. Poor Ellen’s feet froze twice that winter. Even though it was cold, I worked every day doing laundry.
In October 1916, at the age of 30, Fred left with the 142nd Overseas Battalion, traveled across the ocean on the S.S. Southland arriving in England on November 11, 1916. I got a lot of jobs while the war was on. Sometimes I went to three different places in one day, cleaning houses for $1.25 to $1.50 a day.
In 1918, after spending two years overseas, Fred came home. Unfortunately, he was very sick with tuberculosis and had to spend a year in the Queen Alexandria Sanatorium in Byron, just outside of London. In late 1949 Fred became very sick and was moved to Westminster Hospital. He passed away on April 1, 1950 and was laid to rest in the soldier’s plot in Woodland Cemetery in London.
Times may have been very hard and sometimes unbearable, but God has been good. I’ve always been blessed with good health, a wonderful family and have been well-rewarded in my life.”
~ Sue Methuen
Everytime we visit our kids in southern Alberta I am amazed at how different the landscape looks and feels. The coulees are so beautifully carved through the land by wind and water and the dry conditions are home to rattlesnakes (one of two rattlesnake areas in the province). We walked for a couple of hours and I got to visit an art installation along the river that was created a number of years ago in response to the pollution found in the waterways. It really is amazing what people can create from what is considered garbage...the structure is a combination of beautiful and macabre.
Currently I have two portraits in exhibits in Calgary and in Vancouver:
FEDERATION GALLERY: "Agatha" is an 8x10 portrait on canvas which was inspired by the 'WUNDERLAND' series based on storybook characters that I created last year and is on exhibit at the Federation Gallery in Vancouver from August 17-30. The exhibit can be viewed online here.
LOFT 112: "Missing You Monday" was a collaborative art journal created by a group of artists. I contributed a self portrait to represent the joy I have found through painting and studying during this time of COVID-19. The exhibit will be up at Loft 112 in Calgary from September 9-December 16. More information can be found here: www.loft112.org/
This is my 10th bowl for the annual Airdrie Food Bank fundraiser. This year will look a little different as the auction will be held online but I think it's probably even more important this year. The pinecones I chose to paint were inspired by a sketch I had created in Montana several years ago...I love those large pinecones. I'm excited to see what all the artists will be creating this year.
I've been asked to exhibit a few grandmothers with my 'Fashion Plates' exhibition at The HUB Gallery in November so I decided to add 4 more to my roster. I'm honoured to have been asked to include so many wonderful women in this project and don't know how I'll be able to stop at 52 portraits. To learn more about the women I've painted so far, please click on each portrait here: https://www.veronicafunk.com/the-grandmothers.html
My grandmother was born in a tiny Hungarian village in 1930. My great-grandmother had twins before her, but they didn't survive. Two years later, my great-aunt Rózsi was born. The girls went to school in the neighbouring village. They weren't well educated, but they never lacked common sense, and grew up to be the kindest people I've ever known. After both of them got married, Rózsi moved out, and Grandma stayed in their parents' house. My grandfather used to work in a city far away, and only returned home for the weekends. This meant that Annus, as the family used to call her, had to raise their son (my father) and 2 daughters alone. She also took care of old bedridden relatives, household chores, and the hundreds of hens they kept for eggs. All this was decades of hard work for her, with deteriorating health. She often suffered from loneliness, too, as all 3 children left the village to study in Budapest, and later settled down in or near the city. She supported them nevertheless. In 1980, my grandparents sold their home and moved in with my parents, whose house they had helped build. I grew up with four adults taking care of me and teaching me valuable life lessons. Grandma had three major skills: gardening, baking, and maintaining relationships. Every plant seemed to instantly flourish around her, even the seemingly hopeless cases. I learned from her how to sow seeds and grow edibles and beautiful flowers. When my 4 cousins stayed with us during summer holidays, she tirelessly baked us pancakes. After she sold her vineyard, her last physical connection to the village, she still kept in touch with the community. She remembered every friend's and relative’s birthday, wrote them long letters, and sent dozens of postcards for Easter and Christmas. She was a great listener and observer, she even remembered what guests had for lunch the last time they visited us. She loved her family unconditionally, she never judged us, even if we made life choices that clearly went against her Catholic values. She survived a lot of people she wouldn’t have wanted to: her husband, her sister, her son (my father), one of her sons-in-law and her first great-granddaughter. In the last months of her life, she talked a lot about feeling useless. She couldn’t work in the kitchen nor the garden anymore, due to her health issues. The only joy left for her were visits from loved ones. Our next big family reunion is planned for the date that would be her 90th birthday. Thank you for honouring the lives of beloved grandmothers!
~ Réka Gyöngyhalmi
Since studying Astronomy last sememster, I've become even more enamoured of the moon (if that's possible). Lately our night skies have been so interesting so I've been really enjoying them which has also been inspiring a few more mini paintings. Just using a small set of binocculars has given me the opportunity to see the moon's terra clearly, including craters and valleys. The Farmer's Alamanac states that "August’s full Moon was traditionally called the Sturgeon Moon because the giant sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this part of summer."
In the spring I was contacted by Hero Images in Calgary about the possibility of modeling in my studio for commercial images and, of course, I said 'Yes!' I met the loveliest woman who is not only a photographer but also a make-up artist...I love meeting artists in other fields. I feel so fortunate that I have the opportunity to meet the most interesting people as an artist. These are just a few of my favourite photographs from that session.
I am attaching a few photos of my Baba as well as 4 pages she wrote about her life. It will likely be hard to read since it is scanned but hopefully you can get enough information. She passed away in 2014 at the age of 89 years old. I have more pictures if I dig around but these are my favorites. I also have more information regarding our family history if you wish. My Baba, Lena Kuchark (born Helen Hawrylenko) was the grand-daughter of Ivan and Anna Hawrylenko, one of the "first families" of Ukrainian immigrants to come over. They were part of Dr. Joseph Oleskiw's group which is memorialized at the Ukrainian village just outside of Edmonton.
As you read through her pages you will see that she was much like a single mom as my Gido was always gone and working in Edson at the sawmill or at a meat packing plant in Edmonton. She tried so hard to keep the farm in St. Lina going and take care of the children. 7 in total were born but only 4 grew to make it past a year and onward to adulthood. She was tough and worked hard, even into "retirement" she was always on the go, cooking, cleaning, babysitting me and helping at the local Ukrainian Orthodox church and hall. Sounds ordinary but I've been up to the land where she would have been on the homestead alone with the children during the hard winters and that’s not something I could do. She poured energy into planting crops only to have them lost to frost or hail and times were incredibly bleak. She did talk fondly about friends and community gatherings, how people would share resources and help where they could.
~ Tami Grondines
I've been drawn to this building for quite some time and wanted to capture it's feeling for quite some time. The First Baptist Church in Calgary was built in the Beltline in 1911. There is interesting information found on the Beltline Heritage site:
"It was built in 1911-12 to designs by architect D.S. McIlroy. The building is a very good example of the Gothic Revival style, with numerous pointed arches, gables, decorated windows, and attached buttresses. The building features a square tower with a spire at the corner. It seats 1300 people, with room in the vestibule for an additional 200, and is believed to be the largest Baptist church in Canada."
Whenever I paint a building I try not to focus on my photograph or sketch too long and rather trust my creative 'vision' so I often end up missing some of the details but, in the end, I think I'm happy with the end result in this case.