If you were a landscape painter in the early 1900’s, the Haliburton Highlands would have been a necessary destination. The seasonal changes, wooded hills, wildlife, and lakes would provide endless subject matter. Best of all, the Victoria Railway would take you right into Haliburton, and from there you could hike your way up to Algonquin Park. Unfortunately, passenger service to Haliburton ended in 1972. And besides, a train wouldn’t do much good for an artist whose current medium includes a 16-foot canoe. The vehicle of choice for the portage to Haliburton was a 14-foot UHaul truck.
Pouya and I picked up the truck in Kitchener on Sunday, December 4, and after a couple stops to purchase fishing line, we arrived at the Tom Thomson Gallery in Owen Sound at about 4:00 in the afternoon. With the help of gallery assistant Trevor Pfeiffer, we managed to angle the canoe into the truck. Barely. Then we headed for Haliburton, stopping two more times on the way for more fishing line.
By the time we arrived in the Haliburton Highlands, it was very dark outside and raining hard. This was by far the most grueling leg of the portage since it involved winding our way through tight, rugged, hilly backroads in a UHaul with bad brakes loaded with a precious and precariously loaded cargo. We arrived safely at about 8:00 pm and crashed at a hotel for the night.
The next morning we drove into downtown Haliburton and saw the Rails End Gallery for the first time. It is quite an impressive sight. Still looks like a train station, complete with a rail car out front that is currently used for storage.
Getting the canoe into the gallery was no easy task. We had to haul it up two flights of stairs and through a very narrow doorway. But with the help of Courtney Bryant, we were in and installing in no time. The first step, of course, was the string-cutting ceremony.
This seems to get easier all the time. But always tragic in some way.
It took about 8 hours to restring the canoe, making use of our handy canoe-stringing-implement described in a previous post. We discovered that our muscular stringing technique is actually putting undue stress on the structure of the canoe. For the next installation, we may have to install supports to keep the poor vessel from buckling under the tight wrapping of the fishing line.
In the end, the project looked great in this fantastic space.
Many thanks to Laurie for her assistance with the installation, and most of all for her hospitality.