How a Hudson’s Bay canoe sailed from the national archives to the Glebe

The painting by Frances Anne Hopkins of the voyageur canoe   Courtesy of LAC
The embryonic sculpture, all potential Photos: Pat Marshall

By Pat Marshall

As I was leaving the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) building one day PC (pre-COVID), I looked up and saw a magnificent painting of fur traders and a beautifully dressed Victorian woman in a canoe. I was so intrigued by it that I ordered a photograph of it from the Archives and, in my research, found out that the woman was Frances Anne Hopkins (1838-1919), the artist of this painting as well as many others during the era of voyageurs. She accompanied her husband, who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

I had the photo framed and hung it up.

Sculptor Germain Vézina at work

Jump forward to the pandemic. My husband, Germain Vézina, who has been sculpting as a hobby for many years, first in clay and then in wood, was staring at the photo of Frances Ann Hopkins’ painting and said that it inspired him to use it as a starting point for a sculpture.

He bought a block of wood and every day he spent a few hours working at it.

Day by day, it took shape,

Poor Frances Anne and her top-hatted husband didn’t get included in Germain’s version – an Anishinaabe woman, her husband and their baby got on board instead (as did their dog)!

The last step was to add the paddles, and here it is: the Hudson’s Bay canoe that sailed from the national archives to our backyard on Glebe Avenue!

Pat Marshall has lived on Glebe Avenue for more than 35 years.

The final sculpture in the author’s Glebe Avenue back yard
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