The Art of Bon Echo
Robert Stacey & Stan McMullin
9 X 9 inches, 104 pages
26 colour reproductions of paintings; 10 b&w reproductions of paintings and sketches; 10 reproductions of posters and brochures; 3 colour photographs of pictographs; 8 b&w archival photograph
FROM THE ANCIENT PICTOGRAPHS of Algonkian hunters, vision-questors and shamans to the inspired art of the Group of Seven in the early twentieth century, Mazinaw Lake, or "Massanoga"—as it used to be called—is both a painted place and a place of painting. Mazinaw comes from the Algonkian words meaning "painted" and "to paint." The mile-long granite cliff or the Rock is one of Canada's most depicted landmarks. The Bon Echo Inn opened for business in 1900, fostering both a bustling art community and a deep commitment to preserve the remarkable environs. Posters and memorabilia from the Inn also display the spirit of this wilderness bohemia.
On August 25, 1919, the Rock known as "Old Walt" was dedicated to the late poet Walt Whitman in honour of the centenary of his birth. The propieters of the Inn—pioneer femininist, Flora MacDonald Denison, and her American-born, playwright son, Merrill Denison—were devotees of this poet and champion of democracy. Flora tryed to emulate Whitman's ideals by creating a colony at Bon Echo. She planted an extraodinary cultural phenomenon: Group of Seven members Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, A.Y. Jackson, Franklin Carmichael and A.J. Casson came to Bon Echo to paint. But there would be photographers and filmakers, playwrights and poets, eulogists and ethnographers as well, "painting" in their own mediums.
This book is a celebration of Bon Echo and the extraordinary people who ran the Inn, preserved this natural setting for future generations, and made Bon Echo Provincial Park—one of Ontario's most popular camping desitinations—possible. A place "to invite your soul."
Robert Stacey is a Toronto-based writer, art and design historian, curator and editor with a special interest in Canadian art, design, illustration, photography, architecture and cultural photography. A graduate of the University Toronto, Mr. Stacey was the first Fellow in Historical Canadian Art at the National Gallery of Canada in 1991-92 and was writer-in-residence at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1997. He is the instigator behind the imprint Archives of Canadian Art (and Design).
In his prolific output, recent publications and co-publications include J.E.H. MacDonald: Designer, Source/Derivations: The "Other" Art of Allan Harding MacKay, and North by South: Peleg Franklin Brownell.
For most of his life Stan McMullin has been a regular visitor to Mazinaw Country. Since 1992, he has served with Friends of Bon Echo Park, a group of volunteers dedicated to preservation, conservation, and education. Stan McMullin co-ordinates Cultural Studies within the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University.