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December 24, 2009

Feedback in Perspective

All of my Heritage Perspective articles are online for reference and I get a lot of interesting letters, emails and phone calls because of it. I am not able to answer all the requests for a variety of reasons. Some I do because they catch my interest, or are easily answered and a couple follow below.

You can access 350 articles going back to the first Community Voices paper in April 2000. For the index go to www.pastforward.ca/perspectives For a more direct route Goggle Heritage Perspectives and add key word(s) and you will usually find if I have written anything relative to your interest. Photos are included.

Remembrance Day 2009

I wrote about Remembrance Day in Powassan this year this year. The Nugget wrote about North Bay’s ceremony and made reference to the Silver Cross Mother of the Year Beatrice Whiteduck. I got an email from Beartices granddaughter Judi Thorkelson who lives in Powassan who told me more about Beatrice.

I had made reference to Lawrence Whiteduck, Beatrices husband in an article where I mentioned aboriginal soldiers and Joseph Boyden’s remarkable book Three Day Road which was about native soldiers. Judi sent me material on the Whiteduck family and included a booklet she wrote on Beatrice , now 97 years old. I met with Judi and got more details. Judi is an articulate and caring family member.

Judi’s book is called KOKMISS which is Ojibway for grandmother. It tells the story of Beatrice’s marriage at age 16 to Lawrence Whiteduck, a native trapper from Golden Lake and how they moved to Lake Talon for a period. They lived in a log cabin and travelled by dogsled. Once the children began to arrive they moved to North Bay where eventually 10 children were born. The book is a brief but touching story of early family life often laced with poverty and prejudice. A friend Steven Liberty illustrated the book. It was written in 1988 for Beatrice’s 75th birthday and reproduced in 2009.

Drawing from Judi Thorkelson book Kokmiss about Beatrice Whiteduck.

Judi told me much more about Beatrice and Lawrence. Lawrence, even though he was getting on in years became a soldier, went overseas and died in August 1944 in France. Beatrice never remarried . Her sewing and related work helped keep food on the table.

On November 11 at Memorial Gardens Beatrice accompanied by her daughter Theresa and her brother Percy Faubert placed a wreath and was recognized as the Silver Cross Mother for 2009. Beatrice’s picture appeared on the front page of the Nugget. The whole event was a remarkable recognition of a caring and still capable native woman. The Nugget noted that't was a poignant and dignified ceremony led by Beatrice Whiteduck representing Silver Cross Mothers of CFB North Bay” Lawrence’s name is on the “Wall of Fame” near the North Bay Legion.

Beatrice’s legacy, which she lived for 65 years without Lawrence, includes 9 children, 43 grandchildren, 72 great grandchildren and 17 great great grandchildren for a total of 141 descendants to date. Congratulations and best wishes to Beatrice and her family.

Discovered Paintings

Mattawa’s remarkable painter Gordon Dufoe, who I have written about several times, did some paintings in Muskoka 65 years ago that no one knew about until I got a phone call from Colorado recently. The caller was Ann Milton the daughter of Dr. D.L. Whittemore, a Canadian doctor who practised in New York and had a summer property in Muskoka. Dr. Whittemore’s wife was a painter and a collector and encouraged Gordon Dufoe to visit on several occasions during which many Dufoe paintings were purchased. Ann was a teenager and remembered his work and was alerted to my articles on line and wanted information.

Some of the recently discovered Gordon Dufoe paintings. Submitted photos.

She had a typewritten copy of Gordon Dufoe’s book Canadian Animals I Have Known that was eventually published and is still available. The draft was sent to Ann Milton by Leonard Wookey a former Callander Mayor (1947-1954) who was married to a Whittemore aunt. I sent Ann 3 copies of the book, plus some other material and she sent me photos of a dozen Dufoe paintings she has (see photos). Don Dafoe, Gordon’s son, living in North Bay helped with the exchange and the Dufoe family was pleased.

The Clermont Duval Gallery in Mattawa was interested in the story because they regularly sell Dufoe paintings and in fact had 4 on hand when I visited recently. The prices, although reasonable, are many times more than Gordon ever dreamed of and are still a pleasure to see. None of this would have happened without the internet

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