Thursday, 11 October 2012

Lady with Violin

We've long recognized that there must be many works of Bertha's that were either given or sold to others during her lifetime, and probably a few more shortly after her death, as the result of efforts by her sister, Kate. Every once in a while we come across such a work, and it never fails to be a thrilling moment.

It happened a short while ago, when we received a note in the Visitor Feedback section of our web site, Bertha M Ingle - an artist to celebrate. Our visitor tells us that she purchased a lovely oil painting by Bertha last year, at a small local auction in Chilliwack, British Columbia. It depicts a woman holding a violin, something that is unique as far as we know in Bertha's oeuvre. The owner wonders whether we have any idea who the woman might be.

It's a relatively large painting, executed in oils on board of some kind, signed Bertha M Ingle, and nicely framed. It's much taller than it is wide, and shows the figure full length: a youngish, slender woman in a long gown and a matching hairband. The face is not painted in sharp detail, but in a muted manner, slightly indistinct. It may not have been intended primarily as a portrait. The violin is held at her waist; the bow hangs vertically from her hand. There is a tone of calm and serenity, a warm glow in the colours and the contrasting light of foreground and background. It is a very beautiful picture.

My sister guessed that the subject might have been a senior music student at Ontario Ladies' College (OLC), perhaps at the time of her recital to be given as part of the Commencement Exercises in June of her final year. Bertha was teaching at OLC in 1908 - 1909 and all the years from 1922 to 1927.

The dress struck my sister as Edwardian in its fashion (an assessment independently arrived at by the painting's owner), which would make 1909 a likely time. I felt the hairstyle looked a bit later, perhaps more typical of the 1920s. But there is a photo of two OLC students that we believe was sent to Bertha in about 1909 that shows similar hairstyles; and a photo from ~1908 found in the on-line Whitby Archives shows a preponderance of hairbands.

As one would expect, detailed programs were printed up for the OLC Commencement Exercises, and some of them have survived. One from 1887 is available on-line, scanned from a copy in the Oshawa Public Library. It gives details of musical performances that were part of the ceremonies. We realized that if we could find the programs for Bertha's years at OLC, we might find names of violinists who could be candidates for the painting's subject.

I emailed a request to OLC's successor institution, Trafalgar Castle School. The Archivist Sarah Harries-Taylor quickly responded with interest and willingness. She was able to find Commencement programs for 1924 and 1926. The only mention of a student violinist was in connection with the awarding of a Preliminary Certificate (from the Ontario Conservatory of Music) to a student named Grace Elliot, in 1924. [In searching for that name elsewhere, I found that Pierre Trudeau's mother's maiden name was Grace Elliott, and that there is now a Grace Elliott Trudeau Prize for excellence in musical performance, named for her. But the OLC student in 1924 could not have been the same Grace Elliott.  By June 1924, Pierre Trudeau was nearly 5 years old and had two siblings ...]

We still hoped to find programs from other years Bertha was at OLC, but meanwhile, another lead captured our interest. The Archivist also scanned and sent a page from a Commencement program dated only 'Wednesday June 19th'. Based on the names of two of the participants (the Rev D O Crossley and Whitby School Inspector Dr John Waugh), it must be from either 1901 or 1907. It indicates a performance for solo violin by 'Miss K. Archer, Mus Bac', who played a Canzonetta by D'Ambrosio.

Well, it was easy to find out more about Miss Archer with a little searching, because she was a well-known performer and teacher in Toronto. Miss Kate Archer received her Mus Bac degree at the unusually young age of 20. That would have been in about 1895, if the 1901 Census of Canada is correct; it gives her birth date as November 1874. She was already teaching violin and harmony at OLC and at Glen Mawr School in Toronto by 1898, and at the same time was a well-regarded and frequent soloist in Toronto concerts. She is listed as the violin and harmony teacher in the OLC Biennial Calendar for 1909 - 1910 and 1910 - 1911 (which we have from Bertha's papers, and which was published in 1909). There's little doubt that during her year as Assistant Art Teacher at OLC in 1908 - 1909, Bertha would have known Miss Archer.

Might not she, then, be the subject of the painting? It's difficult ever to be certain, of course, especially given the painting's lack of crisp detail. There is a comparison we can make: a book that is on-line called A Musical Souvenir of Toronto (1898) includes a photo of Miss Kate Archer. We think it could be the same person.

Archivist Sarah suggested we contact the Whitby Archives about further programs. The Archivist there is Brian Winter, who has helped us on past occasions. He was unable to find Commencement programs, but discovered that OLC's Vox Collegii yearbooks always contained detailed information about the Music Department's recitals, awards, and other activities.  He kindly sent us copies of the relevant pages from the yearbooks he could find for the years of interest (1923, 1925, 1927). In none of these, however, can we find any violinist named who might especially suit the circumstances.

Of course, a connection with OLC is a matter of speculation, and it's not the only place Bertha could have encountered a violinist. But, for now, Miss Kate Archer remains our 'best guess' as the subject of the painting. Despite our being unable to be more certain, it is deeply satisfying to connect with someone who has acquired such a special painting of Bertha's, and who treasures it as much as we would ourselves. We're sincerely grateful to her for taking the time to share it with us, and we've enjoyed immensely the exploration of its possible origins.

Monday, 1 October 2012

More on Sir Charles

Anyone who does research into family history knows about the time-consuming process of delving into hard-to-find details regarding times, places, and people. Progress usually comes in small steps, often few and far between. There tends to be an ongoing mixture of serendipitous hopeful discoveries and disappointing dead-ends. Yet one "plods remorselessly on", as Neville Moray, renowned Professor of Psychology at Scarborough College in my youth, was wont to say ...

Bertha May Ingle:
Sir Charles G D Roberts
From time to time, as was reported in the posting on Charles G D Roberts, we have pondered a long-standing 'family legend' concerning Bertha's portrait in oils of that well-known writer. The legend is that she was commissioned to paint a portrait of him, and that an image of that portrait was published in the Toronto Telegram at the time of his death in 1943. We're not entirely certain whether there really was such a commission, nor whether the painting we now have was the one intended to fulfill it. But the existence of such a fine formal portrait must have an explanation, and a commission seems at least plausible. The idea of its appearance in The Telegram is mysterious.  Bertha kept a Telegram clipping from January 10, 1935 (Roberts's 75th birthday), and wrote "mine" and "my own" on it; but the picture in the clipping is not a photo of the portrait we have.

From The Telegram
Nov 27, 1943
I extended the enquiry earlier this year by checking the Telegram for November 27, 1943, the day after Roberts died in Toronto. Such checks can be made in the Toronto Reference Library's newspaper room, where old issues of many newspapers are viewable on microfilm. The Telegram article on that day included a photo, as well. It wasn't Bertha's portrait either, but it showed him in a pose that more closely resembled that of the portrait we have. Perhaps, I speculated, that greater resemblance contributed to the story that had come down to us. But it certainly didn't resolve the question.

More recently, it occurred to me that the other two major Toronto newspapers, The Toronto Star and The Globe, might also have published articles about Roberts on the two dates in question (in 1935 and 1943). Checking, I found that neither The Star nor The Globe reported the occasion of Sir Charles's 75th birthday. [Perhaps my sister's intuition is correct:  she suspects Roberts himself instigated The Telegram's birthday wishes, being rather fond of seeing his name in print.]

From The Star
Nov 27, 1943
But both newspapers reported his death, in articles accompanied by photos. In The Star, I encountered an entirely unexpected finding. Despite the rather poor quality of the microfilmed image, I realized that the photo in The Star is almost certainly the same photo that appears in Elsie Pomeroy's biography of Roberts, the photo that we think Bertha probably used as a 'model' for her painting. Pomeroy's book ascribes it to 1936, but gives no supporting citation. I was excited by the prospect that the original of that photo might still be found in The Star's Archives, and that its true date and origin might be traceable after all.

My emailed request to The Star received a discouraging initial response. They don't search their Archives any longer for purposes of 'personal use', partly because they would have to charge a fee. They recommended that, for a nominal cost, I could subscribe to 'Pages of the Past', a searchable site where I could at least determine whether the same photo had been published in The Star at other times as well.

I persisted, saying that the photo's date of origin was really the key thing.  They kindly agreed to 'make an exception' for me, if I'd be willing to pay the search fee. But they cautioned me that the chances were high that the photo would not be found, especially if it had not been taken by a Star photographer. Even if found, it would not likely have date information on it. We decided that it would be worthwhile to 'roll the dice', paid the fee, and asked them to proceed.

From The Star's Archives
A few days later, we received the results. To our delight, and against the odds, the photo was found! Even better, as we hoped, there are date stamps on the back of it. Such stamps could indicate the date it was acquired by The Star, and/or the occasions it was published. The most gratifying date is the earliest one, possibly the date it entered their file:  December 3, 1935. It proves that, as I had suspected, the photo must have been taken earlier than 1936, making its use for a commission prior to January 1935 at least a possibility.

There is also a handwritten acknowledgement of the photo's source:  it came from Milne Studios, a photography studio founded in 1925 and still in business to this day. The Milne Studios web site says that there over a million of their negatives in the City of Toronto Archives. I emailed them to ask whether they or the City Archives might have records of the Roberts photo, or even the negative itself. I learned that Charles Milne (the grandfather of David Milne, who runs the Studios now) was the photographer in those days. Alas, all his negatives went missing after his death, and cannot be found.

Might the same photo have been published in other books by or about Roberts, in the 1930s? With a visit to the Library and the Rare Book Room at the University of Waterloo, my sister was able to check. Only one other book turned up with a photo of Roberts: a collection of his poems published in 1941 called Canada Speaks of Britain. It is not the same photo, but it actually looks as if it could have been taken at the same photo session. The book was published by Ryerson Press, as was the Pomeroy biography of Roberts in 1943.  McGraw Hill acquired Ryerson Press in 1970 and became McGraw Hill - Ryerson. Would they still have such photos in their files? I asked them. They do not.

We may have pretty much exhausted all possibilities, as far as searching for the photo and its date of origin goes. We're still hopeful we might find something somewhere about a commission. And if there was a commission, there may be another portrait out there somewhere. Perhaps some day it will turn up.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Lila Caroline McGillivray Knowles (née Taylor)

Much sooner than expected, after the last posting, I have come across a collection of photos, available on-line, from the Elgin County Archives. It includes a fonds from Alma College, where Lila Caroline McGillivray Knowles taught Art from 1925 to 1957.

Searching for ‘Knowles’, I turned up several photos of Lila Caroline from the mid-1930s to the late 1940s. My sister had already found the later ones, posted on, where Lila Caroline is a person of interest to several contributors.

Born in 1885, she was 49+ in these photos, so I still hoped for something earlier. A few days later I realized that because she started teaching at Alma College in about 1925, and didn’t marry Farquhar McGillivray Knowles until 1931, I should search the fonds for her maiden name ‘Taylor’ [I get there, eventually …]

Several more photos emerged of 'Miss L. Taylor', the earliest of which is from the Alma College composite class photograph, 1926. In that year, Lila Caroline was 40 or 41. To me, Bertha’s portrait seems to be of a somewhat younger woman than that. Her short-cut hairstyle could be as early as 1921 or even earlier, according to The Bob by Michael Warner, at which time Lila Caroline would have been about 35.  All that seems to fit.

In any case, the new finds allow the closest comparison (by age) that we’ve been able to make so far.

Is Bertha’s painting a portrait of the same woman?  Opinions differ!  I'm personally inclined to say it is.

Sunday, 29 July 2012


We find an ongoing challenge and pleasure in trying to identify the people and places depicted in Bertha’s artworks.


In an earlier posting (Ontario Ladies' College), I speculated about the location of this painting, wondering if it represents the view from where Bertha's front lawn or porch at 6 Rossmore Rd used to be, looking southeast to the corner of Rossmore Rd and Olive Ave.

I had a chance to visit the neighbourhood recently, and took a photo in that direction. I'm pretty sure it's the same view. The house on the corner appears to have been extended at the back since those days, and the trees are undoubtedly not the same trees, so many years later. The siding is modern. But the angle of the roof seems right, the windows are about right, and so is the colour of the brick houses in the distance. Within a small degree of artistic licence, it's a plausible match.


We had an even more compelling identification a short while ago. Bertha did this pencil sketch of distant mountains, where she depicted the profile as that of a reclining woman.

The Sleeping Giant
There are mountain views in many places that resemble recumbent human figures. A famous Ontario example is the Sleeping Giant near Thunder Bay, the rock formations of the Sibley Peninsula. According to, "An Ojibway legend identifies the Sleeping Giant as Nanabijou, who was turned to stone when the secret location of a rich silver mine was disclosed."

View from Jericho Beach,
Vancouver BC
Because we know Bertha visited British Columbia several times, we wondered if the sketch came from there, and the ship on the water suggested it might be Vancouver. We couldn't find any well-known 'named' associations like the Sleeping Giant, but I asked my daughter, who has spent several years in Vancouver as a student and goes there frequently, to look out for it next time she was there. But there was no need to wait that long. She thought the skyline looked very familiar, and within a short while she had located this photo of the view toward Stanley Park from Jericho Beach. No doubt!

'Mrs Joseph Frampton'

Identifying portraits is sometimes straightforward, for example where we recognize Ingle family members, or where we have labelled photos, or where my sister recognizes neighbours from 6 Rossmore Rd. But in many cases there's an ongoing enquiry. Here's a fine portrait in pencil, one of just a few that Bertha signed, its date unknown. On the reverse side she wrote 'Mrs Joseph Frampton'.

A search of the 1901 Census of Canada revealed a Mr and Mrs Joseph Frampton. They were farmers in Westminster, Middlesex South, Ontario. Joseph is shown as being born in 1848 in England, and emigrating to Canada in 1871. He was married to Sarah Jane Frampton, also English by birth, also born in 1848, emigrated in 1872. They had a son born in 1875. [Note, all three are incorrectly indexed in as 'Frampler'.]

I also found Joseph and Sarah Framton [sic] listed in the 1911 Census, living in Westminster. His birthdate is given there as 1850. One might speculate that he had not yet turned 21 when he emigrated, and falsified his birthdate at that time (giving it as 1848) to appear to be of the age of majority.

Sarah Jane Frampton died a widow, aged 80, in 1928, in Lambeth, Ontario.  Could she be our 'Mrs Joseph Frampton'? If she is, her dates suggest that the portrait may be earlier than the date we had tentatively ascribed to it (the 1910s), by which time Sarah Jane would have been approaching 70. The woman in Bertha's portrait appears to be younger.

Lila Caroline Knowles (left)
With Bertha's connection to the Farquhar McGillivray Knowles studio from her first years in Toronto, we've been interested in other artists who studied or taught there at the same time. One was Lila Caroline Taylor, who in 1931 would become the third wife of Farquhar McGillivray Knowles. My sister came across a photo of Lila Caroline in an article about Alma College (St Thomas, Ontario), where she was Art Director from 1925 till her retirement in 1957.

Looking at the photo, it struck my sister that this portrait by Bertha, which we had never identified, might be Lila Caroline. We've since been unable to find other photos on-line that might help to corroborate the identification. Recently, however, my sister had the great pleasure to visit with the artist Bernice Harper, another former art teacher from Alma College (1962 - 1966), who remembers meeting Lila Caroline Knowles. Bernice kindly lent my sister an Alma College anniversary book from 1977, in which there are two photos of Lila Caroline (in addition to the one above). One new photo is very small, in a 1935 montage of students and staff; a later one shows her in about 1954, at a much more advanced age than the lady in Bertha's portrait. Still, we think it could be she ...

Sunday, 22 July 2012

On the Rails

I've recently put up old-style picture rails in a large room at home, from which paintings can be hung using hooks and light chain. The idea is to have a flexible display area, where the choice of pictures can be easily changed.

Finding picture rail moulding locally wasn't easy. I searched in vain at all the usual lumber suppliers. Eventually it was recommended to me that I visit Hoffmeyer's Mill in Sebringville, Ontario. Problem solved! Hoffmeyer's, aka Ogilvie's Planing Mill Ltd., is a remarkable operation that specializes in making all kinds of reproduction old-fashioned wood products. Their main workshop still has many machines driven by belts connected to an overhead ceiling-mounted rotating shaft. Mr Ogilvie Sr himself made my picture rails, while I waited, by ripping a suitable portion of one of their standard mouldings, and then rounding off the top with a hand router. I took home forty feet of moulding, cut it to the right lengths for my various walls, painted these lengths, and secured them to the walls. For hooks I'm using small cabinet handles.

I have been hanging a few framed pictures from the picture rails, partly to get an idea of how well the picture rail system works, how easy it is to adjust the height, and so on. One picture in particular, a small landscape in oils, was in a rather distressed antique frame under very dirty glass. Thinking it could be much better presented, I decided to disassemble it.

The backing (two pieces of card) and the cardboard mat were in very poor shape, and a corner of the mat actually broke away as I lifted it from the frame. These materials are clearly very old, and much older than those I found in the frame I described in an earlier blog, the one we believe was donated to Ontario Ladies' College around 1930 (see Ontario Ladies' College).

My sister pointed out that it's reasonable to infer that the painting itself is particularly old, perhaps dating from Bertha's time in Owen Sound, before 1901. My sister had already suspected that Bertha's signature as it appears on this picture (all block capitals) is typical of her very early works.

If it is indeed as old as 1900, I wonder if it might have been framed (and signed) for purposes of the Exhibition that Bertha mounted at the Margaret Eaton School in 1906 (see A Private View). The list of titles from that Exhibition appears on the card we have. I believe that any one of several could conceivably refer to this painting.
Could it be Don Flats? Or Down by the River? Is it a Sunset? Or a Hazy Afternoon? Perhaps we'll never know for sure, but it feels like finding one more piece of the puzzle.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

To the Rescue

I wrote in an earlier posting about the need for conservation work on many of Bertha's works. We have been particularly concerned about works on paper. Many drawings and paintings were executed on low quality paper; I have learned that, in Bertha's time, even the sketchbooks sold specifically for artists were made from acidic paper.

We may take the existence of acid-free paper for granted these days, but the Wikipedia article on Acid-free paper tells us that it was as recently as the 1930s that the deterioration of acid-bearing paper was first understood and written about (by William Barrow, a librarian, writing mainly for librarians). In the 1950s, commercially-made alkaline sizing to allow the manufacture of acid-free paper was on the market, but it wasn't until the 1980s that a voluntary ANSI Standard for truly acid-free paper was published. Virtually every piece of paper Bertha used has acidic content that will hasten its deterioration, if nothing is done to slow it down. Many works already show the signs of such deterioration, and others are dirty, torn, or moisture-damaged.

We sought professional advice from an experienced Conservator, Lloy Osburn of Artful Restorations, in Guelph, Ontario. She does wonders restoring art, antiques, and interesting objects of all kind. As a preliminary exercise, we took five paper artworks, each presenting a slightly different challenge. We judged all of them to be worth the expense of expert care. One showed classic foxing, and has drawings of interest on both sides of the paper; one had a stain in a rectangular outline, where another piece of paper had been in contact; one had become so brittle that a piece had broken off; all were somewhat dirty; all of them have torn edges and would benefit from being mounted on acid-free mats.

The results of the work are very gratifying. Of course, they don't look 'just like new', by any means, but they are all greatly improved, much more presentable. All have been treated with a de-acidifying spray that will greatly inhibit further acid deterioration.

[Note:  The before-and-after comparisons below are a little misleading because they were scanned or photographed in different lighting conditions; the required adjustments in colour balance are inexact.]

We intend to follow up with treatment of more drawings and paintings, and are actively working at prioritizing the next stages.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Charles G D Roberts

Bertha left us a striking portrait of Charles G D Roberts, painted in his latter years.  It is at the centre of a puzzle that we'd dearly love to solve.  My sister has compiled the account below:

Charles G D Roberts
"Our mother used to tell us that Auntie Bert had been commissioned to paint a portrait of Charles G D Roberts, a well-known Canadian writer and literary figure, one of the ‘Confederation poets’, who was knighted in June of 1935. It was part of family lore that a picture of Bertha’s portrait had appeared in the Toronto Telegram newspaper at the time of the poet’s death, in November of 1943.

"Not having asked as many questions as we should have when we were young, we have no information on the date of this commission, nor how it might have come about. We had supposed that the arresting portrait of Roberts that we have in our collection was either the very portrait that had fulfilled the commission (somehow returned to the artist), or a preliminary version of it.

from the
Toronto Telegram
Jan 10, 1935
"Among Bertha’s papers there are only two items relating to this story, and they are both newspaper clippings. One shows a photo of Roberts wearing a hat, and is dated January 10, 1933 (his 73rd birthday). The other shows a picture of him bareheaded and turning slightly to one side. This second clipping extends greetings to Roberts on the occasion of his 75th birthday, January 10, 1935. The clipping has been verified by James Thomson to be from page 3 of the Toronto Telegram of that date. On the front, written in pencil in what we think is Bertha’s own hand, is the word “mine”, and on the back is written “my own”. We conjecture that this is probably the picture referred to in the family oral tradition.

"There’s a problem with it, though. It’s difficult to be sure, but the picture in the Telegram clipping looks more like a photograph of the man himself, rather than a photograph of a painting. The original photo, which would have been helpful, could not be found in the Telegram’s photo archives, which are now divided between the Sun newspaper archives and a special collection at York University. We know that Bertha often painted portraits from photographs, especially where sittings would have been difficult to arrange, for one reason or another. The newspaper clipping could show a photograph which she had used as a model for a painting, which she might have lent to the Telegram. In any case, the evidence of the clippings suggests that Bertha’s commissioned portrait of Roberts was painted some time in the early 1930s, very probably by the beginning of 1935, and that it may have been quite a different picture from the one we have.

"Searching the internet, DB came across a photograph of Roberts that appears on the dust jacket of Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, a Biography by Elsie Pomeroy, published in 1943. This photograph bears a striking resemblance to the painting in our collection [though DB noted that in our painting, the subject is lit from the opposite side, an interesting variation, artistically]. Pomeroy’s book gives no information whatsoever about the source of the photo (an oddity, because there is comprehensive information cited about every other photo in the book). It simply states that the photo is from 1936. If this date is correct (it may not be, but sadly there is no obvious way to verify it), it suggests that the portrait in our collection was painted later than the commissioned portrait – perhaps even years later, if the model photograph was from the biography.

"When attempting to trace the image, DB visited the Northern District Branch of the Toronto Public Library (40 Orchard View Blvd), where a copy of Pomeroy’s book resided at that time (it has since been moved to the Canadiana Reference Stacks of the North York Central Library). There was no dust jacket, but the same photo appears as the frontispiece. In an eerie twist, he found that the frontispiece picture had been scored with pencil lines, one horizontal and one vertical, each bisecting the picture, in much the same way that Bertha used to do with photographs from which she intended to make a portrait.

"We are left with yet another mystery. Was there really a commissioned portrait?  What was it  like?  Was it destroyed, or does it still exist? We are also left with a fine portrait, possibly from a later date, in which we believe the artist took much satisfaction."

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Churchville - Helping to Preserve History

Churchville is an historic village in the Credit River Valley, in the southern part of Brampton, Ontario, Canada. It was founded in 1815 by Amaziah Church, who built a gristmill there. From Churchville, the Credit River meanders southward through Meadowvale and Streetsville; remarkably, these early villages are still recognized as place names despite the suburban sprawls of Brampton and Mississauga that have threatened to engulf them. A few old streets and houses have survived in Churchville, and there is a beautifully kept old Cemetery there, where the earliest grave (1831) is that of Amaziah Church himself.

In the 19th century, the area immediately surrounding these villages was divided into farms, though there is relatively little evidence of them today. Bertha May Ingle had a great-aunt, Rachel Burton, widow of Samuel Burton, who lived on one of these farms, and Bertha visited her there as early as 1898. There were probably several visits to the Burton family over at least three decades. Old maps allow us to locate the Burton farm; it was on land immediately east of what is now Mississauga Road, just south of Highway 407.

Bertha enjoyed painting farm landscapes, and we can be sure that the locale of at least some of them was the area around Churchville. We know because Bertha mentioned painting at Churchville in letters and in personal notes, but there is another fascinating circumstance that establishes the fact in a very specific way.

In the 1930s, the businessman and historian William Perkins Bull undertook to collect a large range of historical materials related to Peel County. One aspect of his collection was a compilation of artworks documenting the pioneering spirit of Peel County's early settlers and celebrating its natural beauty. A catalogue of the Perkins Bull art collection was published in 1934, and there (on page 72) we can confirm that Bertha donated two oil paintings to the collection, both of scenes near Churchville, and said to be painted in October, 1929.

The catalogue also includes (on page 73) a black-and-white photograph of one of the paintings, entitled Autumn Leaves. Among Bertha's surviving memorabilia is a photograph that I think must be the very photo that was used to make the image in the catalogue. And we have a very similar painting of the same scene -- though it's not the same painting. In fact, Bertha painted quite a few versions of that composition.
Bertha's photo of Autumn Leaves, 1929

The exact appearance of the second painting, Autumn Sunlight, Churchville, we could only guess at ... until recently.

After Perkins Bull died in 1948, the collection of paintings became somewhat dispersed. Many were on display in a Brampton school at that time, and remained in the school till the 1960s. Others entered the care of the United Church of Canada Archives, and these now reside at Victoria University in the University of Toronto. I contacted Gillian Pearson, Curator of the University Art Collection, and I was thrilled when she reported that one of the two paintings Bertha donated is there, and has the best possible professional care. Gillian kindly sent me a photo. It is Autumn Sunlight, Churchville, so there was the added excitement of seeing a composition we hadn't ever seen before.

Autumn Sunlight, Churchville, 1929

At that time, it was in storage, and not framed. The canvas is brittle and fragile, and it needs conservation work to repair an area where paint is flaking off. But we've recently learned that it has been very suitably framed, and that a professional conservator, Heidi Sobol, is in the process of investigating its repair. Her initial exploration has determined that a possible reason for the flaking paint is that there is another painting beneath the one that is visible. The canvas will be x-rayed soon, at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, to help ascertain what the underlying painting is and determine the best conservation approach. We are very excited about this, and we are deeply grateful to all concerned who are taking such pains to rescue the painting and allow it to be seen again after all these years.

The whereabouts of Autumn Leaves is still a mystery. There has been considerable interest in recent years in re-constituting the Perkins Bull Collection, perhaps starting as early as 1984, when an exhibition was mounted in Mississauga called Peel Remembers: Artists from The Perkins Bull Collection. Through Gillian Pearson, I contacted her colleague Gerrie Loveys of the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (formerly the Peel Heritage Complex) in Brampton, and she, too, has been very responsive and helpful. However, no records of the missing painting have yet been found.

What used to be the Burton farm is now the site of a vast pharmaceutical manufacturing facility, mostly surrounded by busy modern roads. It is not easy for urbanites like me, driving by, to visualize those early days. But in museums and heritage buildings and cemeteries and artworks, we can maintain a connection to our past. The foresight of someone like William Perkins Bull in collecting the history and images of the pioneer days is something we should all be grateful for. And, happily, there are still many dedicated people who are striving to preserve these records and memories and places. We are all richer for their efforts.

P.S. If you looked at the catalogue, page 72 or 73, you might have noticed how Bertha's name was given in the Perkins Bull collection. She's called 'Bertha Maylaw Ingle', although the signatures on the pictures have the middle initial M, as was her usual practice. We also have a few of her pictures that she actually signed only as 'Maylaw'. We have no idea where this adopted name came from, nor why she decided to use it. Another mystery!
Watercolour card signed 'Maylaw'