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Spring in Canada by Katherine Wallis

April 2, 2022

Katherine Wallis (1861-1957) in her studio, Sebright California, 1948

After Maryboro Lodge’s founder’s Fenelon Falls ventures foundered and his first wife passed away, James Wallis moved to Peterborough, commissioned a new home, Merino, and remarried. One of James and Louisa’s daughters, Katherine, showed great artistic talent as a young girl.

Anne Langton, an old family friend from Fenelon Falls, advised her “When I was your age, Katie, I too had a dream of becoming a professional artist. If you wish to attain your dream, you cannot stay here. Canadians are and will be for some time hewers of wood and carriers of water.”

Katherine followed Anne’s advice, studying art at the Toronto Art School, before becoming a copyist at the Scottish National Gallery. After moving to London, she discovered a passion for sculpture as Edouard Lanteri’s student. She went on to have a distinguished career as a sculptor, painter, and poet in Paris and Santa Cruz, California.  But she never forgot her Canadian roots, serving as a nurse during the First World War, contributing to local organizations and depicting her homeland in her art.

Spring in Canada

Last night the snow lay deep and fair

Away to the clear cold west,

And the northing sun shot iris rays

O’er its ribbed and icy breast—

The drifts piled high but yesterday

Hid the zig-zags deep of the fence’s way—

Last night the world was white and fair—

For Winter was there

Last night the runners scrunch from far

‘Neath the golden moon was heard,

As jingling came the sleighs toward home

Through the woods where no life stirred.

The pond was frozen hard and black,

And shrieked the ice ‘neath the skater’s track—

Last night the winter hard was there—

               And the trees were bare.

We planned the snowshoe tramps to come

By the hearth where burned blue the flame,

We heard the nails spring out in the frost

As fiercer its grasp became—

And the deep joy tingled through and through

With vital force which comes anew

From the mystic pole-star’s keep bright spear—

               When the heavens are bare.

But today, today the world is new—

The boom of the partridge through the firs,

The crow’s deep caw as he flaps the blue,

The chipmunk’s cheep through the beechnut burrs;

Deep gurgle of the joy of earth,

And water’s shout of glad new birth

Tell that the Spring is here today—

               And the snow away.

Today in the maple patch beyond

The sugar sap is running free,

The willow’s gold has a veil of green,

There are buds on the lilac tree;

The great green ferns their fronds unfold,

And butterflies with wings of gold

Show that the Spring is here today—

               And the world all gay.

Am I awake and is it true?

In dreams I can hear and see,

But in no dream did I ever smell

The scent of the cedar tree.

And never dream is the perfume sweet

Of the opening flowers at my feet—

The hepatica has shown the way

               To the Spring today.

The land is away today, today,

Her vigorous Spring is here—

From Halifax to Hudson’s Bay,

From ocean to ocean ring clear

The fresh true tones of glad young Spring

Till mountains, rivers and prairies sing—

“Canada’s Spring is here today!

               Winter is gone, our hearts are gay!”

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