Paul Kane's Great Nor-West

Synopsis

In this beautifully designed and richly illustrated book, Diane Eaton and Sheila Urbanek re-create Paul Kane's heroic journey across Canada and bring to life the people, places, and events he experienced. Determined to document the lives and customs of the Indians of the Northwest, Paul Kane set out in 1845 to cross the continent 'with no companions but my portfolio and a box of paints, my gun and a stock of ammunition.' Travelling via the Hudson's Bay Company fur brigade routes, he made his way from the Great Lakes to the Pacific coast and back again. When he returned to Toronto in the fall of 1848, he brought back some 500 field sketches as well as a remarkable collection of Indian 'curiosities,' which he used as raw material for one hundred oil paintings depicting scenes of Indian life. While the carefully executed oil paintings are deliberately romanticized images of the west, the original field sketches convey Kane's immediate impressions and offer tantalizing glimpses of what he describes as the 'wild scenes amongst which I strayed almost alone.' A fascinating complement to the sketches is contained in a small diary Kane kept while on his journey -- brief and plainspoken, these entries were jotted down in his own idiosyncratic spelling and punctuation. Illustrated with a wide selection of the field sketches as well as his better-known oil paintings, this book reintroduces this remarkable artist to a modern audience.