- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 23 Jun 1994, p. 45-64
- Pachter, Charles, Speaker
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- A joint meeting of The Royal Commonwealth Society and The Empire Club of Canada.
The speaker's obsession with Canada; "with its beauty, with its size, with the grandeur of it, with the complexity of it, with its past, with its present and with its future." A look at 200 years of history, Pachter version, to try to give some sense of why he feels we are at a crucial time in our history. Trying to solve the Quebec "crisis." Pachter's look is intermingled with personal reminiscences and commentary on various issues and people, from art to Susanna Moodie to Margaret Atwood to Simcoe to history education (or the lack of it) to Joseph Brant, to butter tarts. His summary remarks conclude that Canada is inextricably tied up with Quebec. "They are us and we are they." What makes Canada so unique: two founding European cultures living together in this huge land mass. "We're in this together and let's stay together."
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- 23 Jun 1994
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- Full Text
- Charles Pachter, Artist and Historian
A ROMANCE WITH CANADA
Chairman: Ronald Goodall, Chairman of the Toronto Branch of The Royal Commonwealth Society
Head Table Guests
Marcia McClung, President, Applause Communications and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; Howard Collinson, Curator, Royal Ontario Museum; Rabbi Sharon Sobel, Holy Blossom Temple; Nona Macdonald, Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; Avie J. Bennett, Chairman and President, McClelland & Stewart; Yves Doutriaux, Consul General of France; John A. Campion, President, The Empire Club of Canada; Ed Badovinac, Professor, Department of Electronics, George Brown College and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; Rosemary Sadlier, President, Black History Society; Dorothy Duncan, Executive Director, Ontario Historical Society; The Hon. Henry N. R. Jackman C.M., K.St.J., B.A., LL.B., LL.D., Lieutenant Governor of Canada; and Ronald Goodall, President, The Royal Commonwealth Society.
Introduction by Ronald Goodall
Your Honour, head table guests, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Ronald Goodall, I have the honour to be the Chairman of the Toronto Branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society and I welcome you all today to another joint celebration of Canada Day.
About 30 miles from the Dorset home my mother had for almost 30 years lies the village of Dunkeswell in Devon. Grace and I paid many visits to Dunkeswell. Here there is a bit of Canada and the Ontario flag flies proudly over a family chapel surrounded by tall trees, the last resting place of John Graves and Elizabeth Simcoe, a man and woman who lived in Canada for only a few years but left a lasting imprint. On the way back to my mother's home, we pass the village of Whitchurch, Canonicorum. In the village church lies the body of Sir George Somers. His heart is buried in St. George's, Bermuda, the island he discovered. Driving back through Dorset, we remember our visits to Newfoundland and the frequent reminders in the church yards of the adventurers from Dorset who peopled that land. The sailors and adventurers from Devon and Dorset, from Brittany and Normandy, have left us a wonderful legacy.
It may seem odd to be half buried either side of the Atlantic as was Sir George. It may also seem odd to be both artist and historian. However, the early historian had to be an artist or to have an artist on hand to record the events of the day.
Charles Pachter is, of course, one of Canada's leading contemporary artists. His work is there for all of us to see, either in the College Street subway, at the Toronto Stock Exchange or at the Royal Ontario Museum. Some of his paintings caused quite a stir about 22 years ago, but Charles has mellowed over the years, and the romance with the moose became a romance with Canadian history. A recent exhibition of his work Charles Pachter's Canada at the Royal Ontario Museum featured 23 of his images. I understand that that exhibition continues to September of this year. One of them, an Obscure Canadian Historical Event, depicted Elizabeth Simcoe landing at Muddy York. Charles believes the Simcoes were the Washingtons of Canada, and I believe he regrets the fact that we in Canada do not accord our forbears adequate and due recognition.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Charles Pachter who will address us today on "A Romance with Canada."
Thank you Ron. It's a pleasure to be here again. I would like to begin by asking for the lights to be dimmed and we'll see whether or not the electronics of today work better than they did six years ago.
It's true. I am obsessed with this country. I am obsessed with its beauty, with its size, with the grandeur of it, with the complexity of it, with its past, with its present and with its future. And I would like to begin by going through, in 20 minutes, approximately 200 years of history for you, Pachter version, to try to give you some sense of why I feel we are at a crucial time in our history. Most important to me, and I say this with great seriousness, I think a kind of collective amnesia has come over us as we go through the events of today and through the fragmentation of smaller cultures throughout the world that are looking to set themselves up with smaller infrastructures. Canada is no exception: it seems like we're forever saddled with what we continue to think of as the Quebec crisis. By the time this lecture is over, I would like to hope that I can help solve this in my own very small way.
But here we are with a flag which has just celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary last year. It was created out of conflict in 1965--enough conflict to give John Diefenbaker a heart attack. For those of you who don't know it was designed by a Montreal designer. Its origins go back to the early period of the British Navy. I feel, notwithstanding that it's ours, that it is a beautiful flag and that it shines against a blue sky. The red and the white against the blue are to me what gives it its distinctive form and shape. I think that it's recognizable throughout the world.
I am going to start now by going back to the early heartland history of our Ontario. Here we are at trillium time in May. The land, of course, was occupied for thousands of years by the natives. First by the Iroquois in the sixteenth century, who came up from the Mohawk Valley in New York. This, in case you don't know, is very close to Toronto, only an hour away, near the Guelph Line in Campbellford and Crawford Lake. It is worth a visit. These are the First Nations who lived around here and whom Simcoe met when he first arrived.
This picture depicts the Mississauga tribes, in case you did not know: "Mississauga" is not just the name of a suburb or a direction on the 401. The Mississauga Nation, a sub-tribe of the Ojibwa, came down from north of the Sault in the early part of the eighteenth century (around 1710) and settled the entire area between the Bay of Quinte and Niagara. When the European settlers arrived, these were the people who guided them through the forests, and without whose help and basic knowledge the European settlers and traders and invaders and land-grabbers would never have survived in the woods. Their food, their knowledge of medicine and their ability to survive helped the settlers when they arrived.
This is a picture of Carolyn King who lives today on the Mississauga Reserve near Hagersville, Ontario. The Mississauga purchase of 1786 under Lord Dorchester out of Montreal was the beginning of the shunting of the Mississauga tribes out of the Toronto area. They were eventually moved to the Credit, and in 1839, under Bishop Strachan they were moved out of the Credit River. Today their reserve still exists in Hagersville, Ontario; I went to their pow wow last summer. I was very pleased to be invited to be part of them. If you look carefully, you can see Hazel McCallion there, the Mayor of Mississauga, dancing with them in their pow wow. There is a lot of friendly repartee between the Mississauga tribes and the Mayor of Mississauga. Their Chief said, "Hazel will take 900 million for downtown Mississauga." Their treaties have not been honoured.
There's a wonderful book called Sacred Feathers, by Donald Smith of the University of Calgary. It's a story about the whole history of the Mississauga tribes and where they are today. To me, it's absolutely inconceivable that many of our schoolchildren know about Hollywood Indians and cowboys, but don't know that these are the people who were here before us. And we owe it to them to give them honour, recognition and equality.
The beginnings of European settlement. If the eighteenth century could be considered English, certainly the seventeenth was the great period of New France. This glorious French Empire existed all the way from Quebec City right through the heartland of the North American continent going down to Wisconsin, Missouri, New Orleans and Louisiana. The French occupied the interior of North America. We must never forget this. They ruled out of Quebec City. The English hugged the Atlantic coast, from Maine down to Georgia. But it was the French who discovered the interior, all the way through the Central United States with the Mississippi River as their corridor.
And what was the reason? The beaver, the pelt. This, with apologies to Margaret Atwood, is a portrait of a beaver I did called Surfacing. He's a bit like Giles. It is as if you came across this beaver while you were swimming in a Tom Thomson Group-of-Seven lake.
The drama of what went on after the American Revolution is quite incredible. I would like to draw your attention to the Toronto area first. For centuries, the Toronto portage was known by the Indians and the French as the main route to the upper lakes. It was the short cut around Niagara Falls. This painting is right at the foot of the Humber River, the 28-mile portage, up to the foot of Lake Simcoe. This was a well known route. The Indians used to bring their furs down through this area, which is right near Baby Point Road. Never forget that where we are right now was once the province of Quebec. It wasn't divided into Upper and Lower Canada until the Constitution Act of 1791. But this was also Western Quebec.
And now we come to the period that interests me the most--the great clash in North American history which resulted in the creation of our country. Again the English were on the Atlantic coast and the French were down through the interior. The inevitable conflict which led to the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the conquest of Quebec in 1759. The Seven Years War was a time of massacre, of mayhem, of the British finally becoming supreme in North America, leaving only St-Pierre et Miquelon under French control. Florida was still in Spanish possession but in 1763 the British conquered Havana and gained Florida as well.
So we are looking at this period from 1763 to 1776, just before the American Revolution, when Britain took over North America. It was a difficult time, because the conquest of Quebec meant that British military governors in the new British Quebec had to learn how to deal with the conquered population: a much smaller group of approximately 50,000 French colonials. Two important figures preceded Simcoe, persons who have very little renown in Ontario today, yet who are giants of early British Canadian history. Sir Frederick Haldimand for one, who, after the American Revolution, supervised a salvage and rescue operation which was unparalleled in our history: the evacuation of over 12,000 Loyalists into the area around Trois Rivieres in Quebec and eventually into Bay of Quinte, Niagara and Detroit. It was the Haldimand purchase of 1784 which procured from the Mississauga Indians the land that Niagara-on-the-Lake now stands on today. In 1784 an Indian Chief met Sir Frederick at Fort Niagara over on the other side of the river to help all the American-born Loyalists. These Loyalists were sheltered in Fort Niagara in Lewiston until this land could be procured and in 1794 under Jay's Treaty they marched across the Niagara River, built Fort George, and so began the whole culture around Niagara. Haldimand is one very important British military governor, although his papers have never been published and there are no monuments to him.
But the grand-daddy of all is Sir Guy Carleton, Lord Dorchester. In 1784, Dorchester evacuated over 12,000 Loyalists from New York City into the province of Nova Scotia (which was later divided in two to create New Brunswick and Nova Scotia). The city of St. John, New Brunswick was created overnight as a town of 5,000 people. The arrival of fleets of ships of exiled Americans into the Canadian wilderness is such a story of drama, hardship and misery. It seems to me that New Canadians today relate to it. The first people who came here were political refugees who were ethnically cleansed because they were politically incorrect within a new republic called the United States. But from that upheaval came the beginnings of the mass of settlers who came into this country.
Some 200 of the Johnson family (Johnson Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake is named after the family) migrated into the area near Brockville. They were very wealthy influential colonial landowners in the former province of British New York. They saw the writing on the wall and the committees of safety that were set up in Albany. The American Revolution had its red-neck revolutionary committees that examined the backgrounds of anyone who was deemed to be unsuitable to stay in the new republic. The Johnson family, who were well allied with the Mohawk Indians of New York State (and all the Six Nations for that matter), banded together after the torching of their homes, confiscation of their properties and expropriation of their businesses. This is every bit as dramatic as anything else in today's world--and yet we have not considered these parallels with how our own country began. It began out of the forced removal of a people from one place to another. Again I keep emphasizing that in the schools we ought to explain to the New Canadians who have come from upheavals and debacles that that is how we started too.
Joseph Brant, the Indian Chief, who was educated in England, was head of the Senecas, the Cayugas, the Onondogas, the Tuscororas, the Mohawks, and was part of the Six Nations, was given as his reward for his loyalty to the British side in that American Revolution a 600,000acre tract of land close to the present town of Brantford. Today, the Mohawk Indians still reside there on their reservation.
And now we come to my hero--John Graves Simcoe. Born in 1752 in Exeter, he was educated at Eton and Oxford. He left to join the Navy at age 19. His father was one of the great sea captains in the Royal Navy: he had been on SS Pembroke, the ship that charted the St. Lawrence River for the conquest of Quebec in May of 1759. He was buried at sea off Anticosti Island, having died of pneumonia. Simcoe grew up revering him as a child.
Simcoe was one of the first young British sailors to arrive in Boston the day after the Battle of Bunker Hill. He wrote a wonderful letter home to his mother, which I found in a 1922 biography. He was sleeping in his barracks, it was late at night, he was burning his chair because it was cold and six of his fellow soldiers had had their legs blown off by the rebels. (We forget when all we hear about are dates and large events that these were personal things, that these were young men fighting for a cause in the Revolution.) Seven years he stayed in the United States. He was imprisoned in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania. He was wounded. He was present with Lord Cornwallis at the surrender at Yorktown in 1781. He went back to England to recuperate, a war hero. He stayed with his god-father, Admiral Graves, who was a friend of his father. Admiral Graves' niece happened to be Elizabeth Posthuma Gwillim. We are going to hear a little bit about her in a moment. He marries Elizabeth who was then 19 although he was 30. They have five children within a six-year period.
He becomes a member of Parliament and lobbies for the creation of a new province, a new British arcadia in the heartland wilderness of North America, to replace the lost paradise of the 13 colonies. He believed strongly in his vision of a renewal of a second British Empire after the loss of the first one. And most important of all, because he knew the North American wilderness so well, right from the very beginning he advocated a multicultural policy in his resettlement of people into what is now Ontario. They were Catholic Highland Scots, they were Black slaves, they were Jewish traders, they were Dutch Quakers, they were French Royalists, all of whom Simcoe advertised for in newspapers outside the colonies wherever his advertisements were accepted--in Bermuda, in Jamaica, in Cuba. He was a real Moses leading his people out of exile into the new promised land of Upper Canada.
And we come to Elizabeth, another incredible figure. She would be an inspiration to any woman at age 30. With two of her five children she embarked on a voyage across the Atlantic. This was in November of 1791, just after the passage of the Constitution Act which divided the former province of Quebec into two new jurisdictions--one predominantly French, the other predominantly English--to satisfy these new Loyalists who had come up from the United States and wanted to maintain a British infrastructure and jurisdiction. This of course is nearly 75 years before Confederation but it's the beginning of the binational contemporary Canadian state. I must go back for a moment to Lord Dorchester and the Quebec Act of 1774. The British military had governed the newly conquered colony of New France and given it the British infrastructure, in league with the bishops and the church. Britain had also granted Quebec the rights to its own language, laws and religion. This was what the Americans called one of the "Intolerable Acts" and it led to American anger against Great Britain. Because they had given Quebec these special rights and had taxed the American colonies to pay for colonial defence, they helped to separate the two societies. Many historians today believe that by conquering Quebec, Britain lost the United States. Now that's a very interesting thing, because it was in that moment that Canada was really created.
Let's get back to Elizabeth for a moment. She was a wonderful artist: very talented, gifted and a linguist. Her diary is a joy to read. Her observations about eating boiled raccoon with mint sauce, sturgeon six feet long coming out of the Humber River, grilled venison on sticks that they ate at Castle Frank and skating up the Don River in the winter are delightful. She describes a paradise of unparalleled beauty. It is almost as though she was a screen writer. Any young film maker could take her diary and make a film about the founding of Toronto.
This painting which I did in 1984 is called Simcoe's Reward. It's an attempt to depict him after all his travails--finally landing in Toronto with his tent bought from the effects of Captain Cook, who had died a few years previous. The Simcoes lived in that tent for nearly four years in the wilderness at York.
This one is called Simcoe's Illusion. I read of some acrimony between Simcoe and Lord Dorchester. Lord Dorchester was Commander-in-Chief of British Canada and over 30 years his senior. Simcoe was his sub-lieutenant. Simcoe had visions for his kick-starting of Ontario. Dorchester was often at odds with him. I've collected several letters that Simcoe wrote about Dorchester. They are very juicy. It probably would make any Ph.D. candidate's hair bristle to try to write some stories about what caused this division. But it was basically Dorchester's master plan for Quebec which infuriated Simcoe. This was the beginning of an animosity that never ended.
This is a re-creation of the boat that brought the Simcoes to Toronto in July of 1793. They had lived before in Niagara-on-the-lake. There's one small memoir by the Captain of the British Marine on the Great Lakes at that time. He wrote in his diary:
"I still distinctly recollect the untamed aspect which the country exhibited when first I entered the beautiful basin. Dense and trackless forest line the margin of the lake reflecting their inverted images in its glossy surface. The wandering savage had constructed his ephemeral habitation beneath their luxuriant foliage and the bay and neighbouring marshes were the hitherto uninvaded haunts of immense coveys of wild fowl."
How's that for a piece of concrete poetry? It's a pretty language, isn't it? Anyway, you can imagine what this must have been like--a British band on board, probably playing something by Handel or modern music or whatever. Here's the painting to which His Honour referred, called Obscure Canadian Historical Event. That's Mrs. Simcoe standing at the foot of Bathurst Street.
This is a detail of a painting that I did. It was an excerpt from Mrs. Simcoe's diary which is quite touching. She says, "It's March, 1794, and the news received of the death of the Queen of France, orders given out for mourning in which everyone appeared and the dance postponed." Now this aroused my curiosity. I consulted the encyclopedia and found that Marie Antoinette had been guillotined in October of 1793. There were many French Royalists already in Toronto. (This is right out of Great Expectations.) They fled out of France to England and eventually were told about this infant colony in the new British Arcadia on Lake Ontario. They showed up here as well. Many of you may not know that St. George Street was not named after the man with the dragon but was named after a French Royalist who arrived here in 1801. They were Royalists. They were sorry for the death of the Queen of France. Don't you think it is amazing that they cancelled the dance in the middle of the wilderness?
Here we have a lovely portrayal of Governor and Mrs. Simcoe's great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson and grand-daughter. She's from London and he lives in Washington DC. They came over last year. They were absolutely enthralled that anybody here even cared about them. She is a young architectural designer in London. She's just married and recently had her first child, a daughter named Elizabeth Simcoe McLaren. And it was because of her trip here that she became so enamoured of the history of her ancestor, who had only been here for five years, but who kick-started Ontario with a vision unparalleled since.
Among the most important things that Simcoe did (and we must never underestimate this) is the passing of the legislation for the abolition of slavery in Upper Canada more than 40 years before anyone else in the British Empire. Now slaves were being brought in constantly by new Loyalists from the States. There was no law against them at that point, but for whatever reason and whatever humanitarian cause, Simcoe had forbidden the importation of new slaves. This was the eighteenth century don't forget. There were slaves throughout the American plantations and many of the large landowners couldn't exist in a harsh climate without this kind of indentured work, but he passed the law. We were among the first to do it. There were many Black Loyalists who came up with their former owners, but any children of slaves had to be freed. This was why the underground railroad became so well known in American folklore and history. If you could get to the other side of Lake Erie then you would be freed. We don't realize that it started with Simcoe.
This was one of the regiments. He even had Black regiments in New York State. There were Blacks and there were Scottish Highland regiments. This is the King's Royal Regiment of New York, (started by Sir John Johnson and his group) and the Butlers and the Jessops. These were all influential American colonials who left their 50,000- and 60,000-acre estates and their holdings and made the commitment to come here and start again when they lost the first time around.
This is a picture of the Don Valley from the Canadian Illustrated News in 1860. Now you can imagine what it was like in 1793. Again, Mrs. Simcoe's description of it is absolutely lyrical. The way Indians had taught them to fish at twilight. They would hold the light up to the canoe and the waters would just swarm with fresh salmon. They would pick them up and have them for dinner. This was the lost paradise. You look at the Don River today and you say: "How could we?" And of course the most important thing is that this is where the government got its first taxes. They had to get income somewhere. The rivers were the highways of the eighteenth century. The mills had to be put up by the government and you paid taxes in order to have your wood sawed and your grist milled. This of course is the Millcroft Inn. And the building of the roads. Simcoe's best friends as a child were Sir George Young and Sir Henry Dundas. He went to school with both of them, they were in Parliament together, and he lobbied with them to get money for the Queen's Rangers to build the roads. Ask a schoolchild today at the corner of Yonge and Dundas if he has any idea who these people are. And of course they built Castle Frank because anyone who had been given a 200-acre allotment of land was to build on it. Castle Frank, named after their young son Francis, stood on a crest of a hill overlooking the Don Valley. Mrs. Simcoe's descriptions of it, again, are absolutely biblical, with eagles swooping overhead, trees bursting with peaches, the first barbecue as they went up the Don River by canoe and venison under the trees. It's all quite amazing. She said she ate 30 peaches in one day. The Indians would bring them maple sugar in exchange for bread.
These are little depictions of what I thought Castle Frank must have looked like. Here's a little Greek temple built out of wood overlooking the river. I thought in 1984 that I had discovered the original base for Castle Frank. I went scampering up the hill near Bayview and Rosedale Valley Road and discovered this abutment. The matter got into the paper which said: "Artist discovers Castle Frank." In fact, it had burned down in 1829. There's very little indication left of where it was but it's still on Crown land behind Castle Frank Crescent. I had a call from a great Toronto historian, who said to me, "You're close, but no cigar. It's an abutment from a bridge that was put up to go over the Don Valley. " The Rosedale Valley Road in 1810 was to lead to the necropolis, but it was never completed. But still we know that Castle Frank did stand in that area. Wouldn't it be nice to recreate it for students of today? Students could go and have picnics or barbecues up there and remember what it must have been like when the first settlers came.
And now we are going to jump forward about 175 years to the near past. This is yours truly at age four at the Canadian National Exhibition, petting a moose with a Canadian woodsman. He was one of those carnival travellers who would go from fair to fair. Here I was at an impressionable age, patting the fur of this big creature. And because of it I became enamoured of the animal. The expression "monarch of the north" also used to confuse me as a child and it was one of the reasons why as a young boy growing up in Toronto I used to wonder if there was any difference between the moose and the Queen, given that they were both monarchs. And the only way I could solve this was by bringing them together. In 1972 I began to think about how the whole phenomenon appears to a child. That fascinating person, dripping in finery and with a foreign accent and jewels and furs, who came here once in a while was our version of Hollywood. Canadians used to fall on bended knee much differently than they do today. It shows how times have changed over the decades. I remember my parents telling me about the arrival of King George and Queen Elizabeth in '39. It was practically a frenzy. By the fifties, it had calmed down a little bit. By the sixties, people were becoming a little more cynical about it. The question as to how this relates to Canada began to fascinate me. I started painting the Queen in a Canadian setting by looking at the iconography of monarchy. There's a lot of precedent for this in art history. The Europeans see it more quickly than we do. But putting Her Majesty in a Canadian setting resulted in a much more exotic connotation. As a matter of fact, when I had my first retrospective in France, one of the reviewers called me the master of Canadian exoticism. We may not have thought it as exotic as they did, but there it is. It was an attempt to look at this complex state of not having our monarch with us. In a way I miss her. Everybody asks me,
"Are you pro- or anti-monarchy?" and I say emphatically that I am pro-monarchy. But wouldn't it be nice if she had a summer palace in Niagara-on-the-Lake and a winter palace in Banff for example? And if it can't be Her Majesty then maybe it should be someone from the family.
That's Margaret Atwood. I was fortunate enough to have gone to summer camp with Margaret in the sixties. She sent me her poetry when I was away studying in the United States. I illustrated many of her books, but my proudest moment with her was when we did the Journals of Susanna Moodie. It's an epic poem conjecturally based on the inner thoughts of Moodie who arrived in Ontario about 40 years after the Simcoes. She wrote a magnificent book called Roughing It in the Bush, describing the hardships of endurance in the wilderness. Atwood took Moodie's longer, more florid prose and turned it into a simple set of poems, which I illustrated in 1980. It took nine months to complete the book. Only 120 copies were printed. It is an epic story about immigration to Ontario.
And there is a portrait of Susanna Moodie that was done at the same time. I bought a farm in the early seventies and used to invite all the artists, actors and writers from the hot lofts on Queen Street. They'd come up to the farm for these leisurely groupings, parties and picnics. A whole series of paintings, called Figures in a Landscape, emerged from that.
While I was there, I discovered the butter tart and, much to my amazement, also discovered that it was unique to us. There's no other country in the world that has this patisserie. As the croissant is to France and as the doughnut is to America, the butter tart is to English Canada. Not only did I discover that it was ours, but that there were different varieties. There were Presbyterian ones, Catholic ones and United Church ones. Presbyterian ones are crustier. Catholic ones are deeper. I'm told that there are even Jewish butter tarts that have little poppy seeds on them. But the fact is that it was a Proustian memory. I just decided to keep painting them. When I had my big book launch in 1991, I managed to get a bakery in Orillia, which had the best butter tarts in the country, according to a poll organised back in the seventies. So they brought them all down. Luckily for me, Her Majesty made a very brief appearance at my book launch, because she was on the cover of the book. She asked if she could come and sign the book. I was delighted to have her here. She only flew in for 20 minutes on the Concorde from London and had to leave immediately afterwards. Do you believe that?
Back to the studio, I'm painting away. The flag. It became my obsession for quite a long time. I watched it floating in the breeze and began to realize how beautiful it was as an abstract shape, when influenced by the elements. And I was fortunate enough to have my first retrospective in Provence in the south of France in 1991. I'm happy to say that the French treat artists the way Canadians treat hockey players. It's a country with such a grand tradition of admiration for what artists do. It touched me so deeply going there that I was almost in disbelief at the kind of reverence that I got for the kind of work that I was doing. It was just a very, very moving experience to be there and to enjoy all of that. I happen to have an uncanny resemblance to Cezanne so I managed to avail myself of that a bit and did a self portrait in the same vein.
In 1992, I was invited to the Canadian Embassy to unveil a painting I did of the Canadian flag, which was donated to the Embassy by the Onex Corporation. It hangs there now in the dining room of the Embassy. Having survived 50 winters in Toronto, I found my own little Canadian embassy in Miami Beach. There it is. I call it the "mini embassy." I've been painting there for the last few months and I've just completed a whole new series of works. I discovered, much to my surprise, that Sir Frederick Haldimand, the same man who organised the evacuation of the Loyalists into Quebec, was the British Governor of Florida from 1763 to 1774. But it was hot and there were mosquitoes. Wouldn't it have been nice if Britain had kept Florida as well?
And then I came home to my exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum, thanks to my esteemed colleague, Howard Collinson, who is sitting at the head table. He is an American gentleman, by the way, who saw things in my work that not too many people had seen in the same way. He put together an exhibition of the best pieces examining Canadian symbolism from the different periods of my work. That exhibition has just been extended to September, I'm delighted to add. What if 200 years later, Toronto, this big metropolis that we live in, filled with people from all over the world, had the same multicultural concept that Simcoe had from the beginning? I live in the heart of Chinatown, where I have been for 17 years. I love to tell this story about going into my Canada Trust branch. The branch is in the middle of this great Asian invasion, this incredible commotion, business and entrepreneurship. Each time I would go in (I have had an account there for seven years) the teller would say to me, "Oh, you have account here?" And I'd say, "Well yes, I have had an account here for seven years." And she'd say, "Oh, I never saw you--all you people look alike." So I said to her, "Well, now I want you to remember me." I have become something of a fixture in Chinatown. Everybody at the bank knows me.
But the fact is that we make fun of this whole challenge of multiculturalism and we say we've lost our roots because of it. Why is it that people don't realise that the drama of what happened 200 years ago is absolutely the nucleus of what is happening in present-day Canada today? This is what makes us unique in the world--a country of safe havens--and I hope to goodness that the Quebeckers understand this as well. It is one of the things that frightens me the most. Just to give you an example, that's my house on the left and the Chinese Baptist Church on the right is originally a Presbyterian Baptist Church built in 1881 overlooking Grange Park. With the co-operation of the Toronto Historical Board, I explained to the Chinese pastor what a beautiful building this was. It's just been cleaned back to its original polychrome brick. No one could be prouder than the Chinese Baptist congregation that the church was brought back to its original architectural splendour.
And here we were last September at the 200th anniversary of Toronto. That's me in my new Toronto hat which resembles the CN Tower and the Dome. Signing the book last year, I put the hat on as a reminder to say at the end something in great seriousness: that a nation's history is like a collected set of memories that are handed down to us as a legacy. If we forget these memories, we've lost the key to our identity. We are so inextricably tied up with Quebec. They are us and we are they. If only we could pass on some of the knowledge of this to the generations to come, to make them realize that this is what makes Canada so unique--that these two founding European cultures ended up living together in this huge land mass. All I want to do in conclusion is say, "We're in this together and let's stay together." Thank you.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by John A. Campion, President, The Empire Club of Canada.
Beethoven and Goethe Rock to the Rolling Stones
The artist in our society from Henry Moore to Leonard Cohen to Mick Jagger has become the universal arbiter of public morals; the great artist as a prophet; the artist as spokesman for humanity: at its best, in its suffering and at its worst.
This view of the artist has not always been so. Its birth can be identified with the turn of the 18th century into the 19th and particularized to Beethoven. He established and popularized this view of the artist as an anointed one. Up until that time artists, and in particular musicians, were low- or middle-ranking servants to great households, rulers and churches. Beethoven would have none of this subservience.
On a June day in 1812, in Peplitz, Beethoven gave expression to this new status. He and Goethe, Germany's great poet, were walking in the Royal Gardens. The Empress of Austria and various dukes approached them. Goethe, 20 years Beethoven's senior, moved to step aside. Beethoven lectured him to hold his ground and let the royals part to accommodate them; they held their course. The royals greeted both with courtesy and respect. Beethoven the artist said, "They must respect that which they cannot create."
Beethoven thus began the view that the artist is a person set apart from the rest of humanity. By so doing, he is directly linked to the star status of our artists today. If Beethoven has been reincarnated, he is probably alive in Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones.
Mr. Pachter is a prominent Canadian artist with a deft hand and a clever wit, seen eloquently in his art. He has a recurring theme in his work of the eccentricities of the Canadian consciousness and symbols. Thank you Mr. Pachter for sharing your passion for one of our province's founders, John Graves Simcoe.