WILLIAM KURELEK, R.C.A.
PARKER’S CAMP FISHER, QUEBEC
coloured pencil and charcoal
signed with initials and titled
18.25 ins x 24 ins; 46.4 cms x 61 cms
Kurelek's first experience with lumber camps was during the summer of 1946 when he was just nineteen. Kurelek was hoping to prove himself to his father, who himself had worked in the bush.
The motivation for the second trip five years later in 1951 was to earn enough money for a trip to Europe to study art. Kurelek was in Montreal at the time. He recounts: “When I returned to the bush in 1951, I worked nearly a year, first for a month in a French-Canadian camp near La Tuque on the northern Quebec route of the Canadian National Railway then at camp (south of James Bay)."
In Lumberjack, Kurelek laments how little has been written, much less illustrated, of bush life. In producing his book of stories on "that remarkable life,” Kurelek noted that he "had to depend on my memory -fortunately vivid - and on the few sketches I made then..." His memories were vivid indeed and he writes of the experience: "...I thought I had met some tough lumberjacks in my first camp experience, but nothing, absolutely nothing, prepared me for this experience... I was almost completely isolated socially (Kurelek did not speak French)... On my arrival at the camp the foreman gave me a quick once-over and I recognized the expression in his face. It meant: Nobody who looks like this will ever make it. He decided to speed up the end."
Kurelek did make it, however, and earned enough money to get to Europe.
William Kurelek, Lumberjack, Tundra Books, Montreal, 1974, foreword.
Private Collection, Ontario