• James Armstrong

Time travel through Hudson on a visual history tour

PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG Layers in Time by Heather Dubreuil is one of the 15 works of art portraying Hudson history on display at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Center on Main Road.

PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG Layers in Time by Heather Dubreuil is one of the 15 works of art portraying Hudson history on display at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Center on Main Road.

Moments in time, imaginative memories, historical recreations and more play a role in the current exhibition at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Center. La Mémoire de Hudson a Travel Through History is a visual arts celebration of 150 years of Hudson’s yesterdays created by 15 local artists.

Fifteen themes or subjects were chosen earlier in the year and assigned to artists Christine Cousineau, Céline Poirier, Daniel Gautier, Élyse Turbide, Heather Dubreuil Gisèle Lapalme, Gilbert Lessard, John Goodger, John Vazalinskas, Judith Harvey, Marie-Ève Lauzier, Mona Turner, Pauline Vohl, Shernya Vininsky and Susan Snelgrove.

“Its an exposition for the 150th Anniversary of Hudson,” said Daniel Gauthier at show opening Saturday, August 2. The subject matter of the works focus on places and people, sometimes well known, that are part of the town’s past. “That’s about the history of golf,” he said in reference to the abstract titled Le temps du Golf by Élyse Turbide.

As Gautier continued the tour of the exposition, he pointed out the Ottawa River and Lake of Two Mountains have played an important role in the development of the town once divided into three entities; Como, Hudson and Hudson Heights. Two works focus on nautical and related themes. The first, Gisèle Lapalme’s The Steamer ‘The Empress’ docked at Hudson wharf early 1800 and Susan Snelgrove’s Nautical Pleasures. The latter work is a collage of water activities and river transportation with the focal point on the original Hudson Yacht Club depicted in grey tone oils.

Espionage, secrecy, and danger are part of the Hudson story in the persona of secret agent Sonya Butt d’Artois depicted in a work by Marie-Ève Lauzier. Born Sonia Butt in 1924, she joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II at the ripe age of 19 where she met her husband-to-be, Guy d’Artois a 26-year-old paratrooper from Montreal. Upon her return to England in 1944, she was awarded for her work as an operative behind the lines in France. The couple was married in 1944. Part of their post-war life in Canada was spent in Hudson raising six children. Sonya died December 21, 2014 at Lakeshore General Hospital at the age of 90.

Once known as Pointe à Cavagnal, the town attained the name Hudson after George Matheson opened a new post office and named it after his wife Eliza’s maiden name. A profile portrait The Young Eliza rendered by Céline Poirier commemorates the town’s namesake as a young woman contemplating her life in a new land.

“There was a lot of glass production here due to the quality of the sand deposit,” said Gautier of the post-glacial Champlain Sea. “It furnished glass for windows across Canada, oil lamps and the glass insulators that carried the wires on the telegraph poles,” he added, pointing to a still-life work Reflections by Judith Harvey.

As modes of transportation developed, the steam locomotive became an important part of Hudson life during the 19th century. Gilbert Lessard’s La Gare de Hudson contrasts the immensity of the engine with stature of the now iconic station.

Gautier pointed to Christine Cousineau’s Hommage à Norman McLaren. The Scottish-born Canadian animator and film director appears to be peering directly into the camera with a background of stylized filmstrips.

Wars have also played a tragic role in Hudson’s history attested to by Mona Turner’s Storms of War Homage to Hudson’s Veterans. A storm cloud sweeps a flock of Canadian geese across an open sky toward an unknown destination.

On an agricultural note, John Goodger’s Old Joe illustrates the importance of the dairy farming in Hudson. Old Joe was the prolific star of Dr. Thomas Bassett Macaulay’s Holstein herd at Mount Victoria farm. One of Macaulay’s legacies was making the Holstein into a successful dairy breed from his farm. In a similar vein, Daniel Gautier’s representation of the famous bull takes a head-on point of view against a background of forceful red.

As to particular well-known places in Hudson, Heather Dubreuil’s aptly named Layers in Time gives a new perspective on Greenwood House. Once the private home of Como’s early settlers, it now serves as Greenwood Centre for Living History providing space for telling the story of Hudson and a home base for the popular annual StoryFest event. “These are all pieced, each one is sewn to the next,” explained Dubreuil. “This one is hand dyed,” she said, “and some of it is stamped with text. The whole thing has a history – its built on layers of history.”

Thirteen out of 15 of the artists who produced the works for the exhibition are members of Artistes Hudson Artists. This year, the organization is celebrating its 65th Anniversary. “We are the oldest English language artists’ organization in continuous existence in Quebec,” said Jane Wright. Recently elected as the organization’s president, Wright expressed her displeasure as to how La Mémoire de Hudson a Travel Through History was handled by the town. She brought her concerns regarding the lack of publicity for the vernissage to the last town council meeting. According to Wright, the town has not responded to date to her concerns raised at the meeting or to subsequent e-mails. Wright and members of Artistes Hudson Artists are hoping the town will purchase and install proper hanging hardware in the main hall of the community center so the exhibition can continue beyond the end of the month.

The exhibition is on display until Monday, August 31.

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