Wednesday 26 July 2023

A Glimpse of Early Glengarry; the Glengarry Artists' Collective Exhibit Vernissage

The Glengarry Pioneer Museum is gearing up to welcome local art enthusiasts to the vernissage of the Glengarry Artists' Collective's latest exhibit, on Saturday, July 29th.Visitors from far and wide will soon have the chance to marvel at recent art work made by local Glengarry artists on display from July 29th-August 13th inside the Big Beaver Schoolhouse on the museum's grounds. 

The Glengarry Pioneer Museum itself preserves art that captures the natural beauty of the Glengarry landscape in our artefact collection. In fact, early features of the village of Dunvegan and other nearby communities can be spotted in a number of these pieces as they would have once appeared to the pioneer inhabitants of this area. 

Scenes depicted in the oil paintings of Dunvegan artist and first curator of the Glengarry Pioneer Museum, Christina Ferguson (1897-1980), provide a rare peak into what the village of Dunvegan would have looked like between the late 19th century and mid 20th century. Although many of the buildings that Ferguson documented underwent decades of alterations by the time her pieces were created in the 1960's and 70's, Ferguson captured the likeness of the original structures using oral histories and photographs of the buildings as they originally stood from the museum's collection and from members of the local community. Imagine yourself stepping into scenes of old Glengarry as envisioned by Ferguson and other Glengarry artists of the past while you peer through a selection of these paintings below.

Christina Ferguson (b. 1897, d. 1980). The MacRae Hotel in Dunvegan. Object ID: 1985-003-018.

This unframed, oil painting portrays the MacRae Hotel on the south-west corner of the Dunvegan village crossroads. The red brick, two and a half story building was constructed around the turn of the century and was used as a hotel, later a garage and gas station, then a private residence as it remains today. This painting reveals how the original outbuildings on either side of the hotel may have appeared. It also shows a covered verandah and the two-story west wing which no longer exists. For a brief period in the 1960s, the hotel's café even served as a hippy hangout spot and place for musical performances! In fact, the café patrons' role in the village's contentious political climate at the time was documented in a 1974 episode of the CBC's Take 30, called "Crossroads at Dunvegan & Coffee House" with Mary Lou Finley. The donor of this painting is Edith Ferguson, sister of Christina Ferguson, who donated the painting to the museum in 1985.

Catherine McEwen. Titled "Barn at the Museum". Object ID: 1986-010-001.

The framed, oil painting titled "Barn at the Museum" depicts the Campbell Barn which is presently situated on the grounds of the Glengarry Pioneer Museum south of the Star Inn. This work was painting by Catherine McEwen and donated to the museum in 1986. The piece highlights the Glengarry landscape in which the barn originally stood, surrounded by a wooden fence, tree lines and sprawling pastures on a clear sunny day. 

Christina Ferguson (b. 1897, d. 1980). The D.K. McLeod store in Dunvegan. Object ID: 2011-006-001. 
This framed, oil painting by Christina Ferguson reveals how the D.K. McLeod store once appeared on the north-east corner of the Dunvegan village crossroads. The building was once the original post office and general store of Dunvegan, serving the pioneer inhabitants of the village throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. The building is covered log, built in the mid 19th century. It was eventually converted into a private residence. 

Christina Ferguson (b. 1897, d. 1980).  J.A. Stewart's blacksmith shop in Dunvegan (1973). Object ID: 1985-003-019.

This framed oil painting captures J.A. Stewart's blacksmith shop, the original blacksmith shop of Dunvegan which stood on the south-east corner of the village crossroads until it was demolished after J.A. Stewart's passing in 1954. This piece was painted by Ferguson in 1973 and later donated to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum by her sister, Edith Ferguson in 1985 along with other works. The scene shows the original wood blacksmith shop in the center, and the Star Inn to the right as it would have appeared in the mid to late 19th century. The Star Inn remains in its original location today on the museum grounds, and the original site of the J.A. Stewart blacksmith shop can found to the east of the nearby Heritage Gardens. 

We look forward to welcoming the Glengarry Artist's Collective and local art enthusiasts alike to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum over the two weeks of their show. While you're here to take in the exhibit, we invite you to explore the museum grounds and country lanes around the village of Dunvegan, where you may stumble upon some of the scenes depicted in Ferguson's paintings and others housed in the museum's collection. 

We hope to see you soon!

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