Peter Ewart - An Introduction | Early Childhood | Montreal | Discovering the West | Manhood and New Horizons - NYC | 1940 - 1944
Spider Island Experience (1945 & 1946) | Montreal 1946 - 1948 - Making a Name in Art | Vancouver | 1951-1952 - Notes from a Friend
1951 continued... | The Langley Years | Daughter's closing notes | My Father's Studio | Family History
Springtime on the Prairies | A Most Unusual Honeymoon

1951 continued...

Peter writes:

"The year 1951 was a momentous one for me because it provided me with the opportunity to have my very first one man show. The Alex Fraser Galleries had been selling my work since 1948 and Alex felt that interest in my paintings was now sufficient to justify this step. He was right. The show was well attended, and most of the paintings were sold."

Daughter's notes: My father set up studios in several places in those early Vancouver days. A long, narrow shop not far from Fraser's on Granville near 41st Avenue served as a workspace for a while. I remember him babysitting me there while he painted. At the far end he installed an old Franklin stove which gave off an impressive amount of heat, and there was a cement floor that, in the eyes of a little girl, was perfect for hopscotch. Sometimes, to keep me occupied, he would convert one of his old shirts into a smock, and let me paint, too.

For a time in 1953 there was a studio room at The Hollies. He painted there most evenings, after working during the day at Smith Lithograph. In the course of things, he made the acquaintance of a young pilot who lived across the hall:

"I first met Peter in the spring of 1953 at 1350 The Crescent, Vancouver. 'The Hollies' was an old Shaunessey mansion that had been made into rental suites and rooms, and as a fledgling pilot with Trans Canada Airlines flying the Vancouver Victoria Seattle run on DC3 aircraft, I made my home there for several years. I probably met Peter in the communal kitchen in the basement, and his interest in old aircraft, steam trains, old classic cars, the sea, mountains, and cowboy lore would have drawn us together. At this time he was working by day as a commercial artist and at night painting his Cariboo landscapes. I remember coming home late at night from a day's flights, seeing his room light on, and sitting talking with him as he painted, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning.

Subsequent to these times we had many mini-adventures together. I remember taking him flying in a small Tri-pacer aircraft over the mountains of Garibaldi Park. One summer we made a trip in his Jeep via Princeton to the Okanagan, then on to Kamloops and back down the Fraser Canyon, camping out at nights. We packed the basics with us, but fresh produce was desirable when we could find it, and corn on the cob was perfect camping fare. Corn at roadside stands had been cut for several hours, and Peter insisted that the only way to eat corn was to cut it, cook it and eat it right away. To this end, Peter would ask if the corn could be cut fresh from the field. Then we would drive out of the farm with speed to light up his Primus and prepare it on the spot. A highlight of this trip was camping high in the hills above Ashcroft, as Peter wanted to catch the sun's first early morning rays on the peaks. I remember he delighted in the sound of the train in the valley and cattle in the distance. After a supper cooked over an open fire, with darkness and a myriad of stars above, he dragged from the back of his Jeep a portable gramophone. We then listened to the sound of the Norman Luboff Choir singing classic cowboy songs. Magic!

Peter was a consummate camper. He used to say to me that a person should not be any less comfortable camping in the wilds than living at home. He proved this to me one winter when we drove to a point along the Hope-Princeton highway for a four day outing. He parked the Jeep, and with him on snowshoes, towing a small sled, and I on skis and carrying a pack sack, we trekked into the bush. With his trusty Hudson's Bay-style axe we built a lean-to of spruce boughs, with an insulating bed of smaller boughs beneath for our sleeping bags.

The fire, originally built on a bed of logs, eventually melted the snow down to bare earth two or three feet below. Again with the axe Peter fabricated tables, seats, and a tripod over the fire to hang the cooking pot. He had brought with him an old flintlock musket and black powder, and we had great fun ramming powder and wadding into the barrel with the ramrod, priming the pan and then firing. The result was a mild 'poof-BANG', lots of smoke and our startled flinch!

In July,1961, there was a trip to the Cathedral Lakes. We drove the Hope-Princeton to Keremeos, then to Hedley where we left the Jeep and hiked the three or four miles in to the Ashinola Valley wherein nestle these beautiful lakes. Another memorable trip in October of the same year took four of us in to Spruce Lake in the southern Chilcotin. The road from Lillooet to Bella Coola runs right through the Chilcotin, but for the most part in the wilds of this mountainous area there are no roads at all. To reach Spruce Lake, just north of Braelorn, we rode a trail on horseback with two pack horses to carry our gear. From Spruce Lake we moved westward along Gun Creek past Hummingbird Lake to camp at Trigger Lake, our outbound point. The country was grand with snow-capped mountains, alpine meadows, stands of aspen,woods and streams... typical of the scenes that Peter loved to paint.

Peter had a realistic sort of optimism that sometimes placed him and his travelling companions in adventuresome situations - opening up possibilities which would otherwise have remained unexplored. As a case in point, I remember a night ride with Peter from Lillooet to Goldbridge. At that time, the road was a narrow one, crumbling away in places, with no guardrail at all. He drove competently, confidently, seemingly unconcerned about the questionable nature of the loose dirt and gravel road and the drop of the canyon, while I hung on to my seat, trying not to think about the steep, descending slope on my side of the vehicle....

Over the years, Peter would often tell me about his time near the end of the war when he served with the RCAF at a radar station on Spider Island, south-west of Bella Bella. In September of 1982, on a trip returning from Alaska in my sailboat, my partner Margot and I picked Peter up at Shearwater and sailed him back to Spider Island. Not much of the camp remained after the forty intervening years; any usable parts of the buildings had long been taken by fishermen and locals.Trees had grown up, as had fairly dense underbrush. I had hoped to dinghy to the west side of the island to land but wind and seas did not allow it. We compromised by attempting to follow on foot the old corduroy road across the island from camp to radar site. The going proved to be too hard and we were forced to give up short of the old radar buildings. A big disappointment for us all, especially Peter. On departure we circumnavigated the island as closely as we dared, enabling Peter to have a waves'-eye view of his old stomping grounds.

Another of Peter's fascinations was the saga of HMS Bounty and the perilous adventures of Fletcher Christian and his crew. He had made a model of the ship when in his teens and because I had admired it for more than forty years, three years before his passing he gave it to me. In 2000 I took my sailboat down to Chile. In January of 2001, approaching the Galapagos Islands, we received the sad news of Peter's passing. On the return voyage we were able to stop, as planned, at Pitcairn Island to meet and be entertained by Stephen and Olive Christian, direct descendants of Fletcher Christian. My biggest regret is that I was unable to share this experience with Peter. He would have loved to be there with us.

Peter was a good friend of very long standing. He will be remembered as such, and by the legacy of his paintings."


Peter Ewart - An Introduction | Early Childhood | Montreal | Discovering the West | Manhood and New Horizons - NYC | 1940 - 1944
Spider Island Experience (1945 & 1946) | Montreal 1946 - 1948 - Making a Name in Art | Vancouver | 1951-1952 - Notes from a Friend
1951 continued... | The Langley Years | Daughter's closing notes | My Father's Studio | Family History
Springtime on the Prairies | A Most Unusual Honeymoon