Painting No. 8 Ruby’s Meat and Groceries, Eau Clair
This day I travelled outside the park to Eau Claire, more specifically, to Ruby’s Meat & Groceries. Although it is not inside the Park, I believe it is connected. Ester, the owner, is probably the last of her kind in these parts, supplying a general store that occupies the front parlor. She humbly makes a living, which isn’t easy to do. I glanced through the open doorway into the rest of the house and saw her aged mother in a wheelchair. I realized this was part of our living history in the Valley including Algonquin. I think these gentle but hardworking people are the genuine champions, heroes in other words. These are the people who really risk everything, neither for wanton gain nor for attention; rather, they do it for a simple, satisfying life of their own choosing.
I asked Esther if I could come back and paint a picture of the store and she agreed.
Even though it was early, the heat was coming on, and black flies and mosquitoes soon clouded around me. Despite the irksome bugs, I tried to give the work a sense of place and time. The store, isolated as it is, embodies that quintessential Canadian element – solitude. Even in this, it is connected to the rest of the country, to us. The Trinitarian elements of aesthetics, culture, and history are again at work.