A Morn­ing Sur­prise

Canada's History - - CHRISTOPHER MOORE -

In this pen-and-ink monochro­matic wa­ter­colour, Dixon de­picts an am­bush on settlers. In a let­ter, he wrote, “the lat­est dis­pach from the front gives an ac­count of a mas­sacre at Frog Lake, one per­son only be­ing spared.” [In fact, nine were killed and about seventy taken pris­oner and later re­leased.]

“It is to be hoped that Riel and the other ring lead­ers who are re­spon­si­ble for this trou­ble and mis­ery may be­fore the end of the Re­bel­lion meet with their just deserts but with the United States to the South and a wide ex­tent of for­est to the North, it is not im­prob­a­ble that they may es­cape our vengeance and ret­ri­bu­tion.”

Quyon Ferry, Ot­tawa River, 1898

Fol­low­ing the North­west Re­bel­lion, Dixon found a job with the Do­min­ion Lands Branch of the Depart­ment of the In­te­rior. His new po­si­tion in­volved much trav­el­ling to in­spect branch of­fices in their var­i­ous lo­ca­tions.

As he trav­elled, Dixon painted land­scapes as he saw them from Man­i­toba and the North-West Ter­ri­to­ries to On­tario and Early Morn­ing, Ca­noe on the Gatineau River

While in Ot­tawa, Dixon’s pro­fes­sional life and his paint­ing ca­reer flour­ished. He be­came the as­sis­tant deputy do­min­ion lands com­mis­sioner in 1910 and had a sum­mer res­i­dence at Cas­cades, Que­bec. He painted many views of life on the Gatineau River, in­clud­ing the peace­ful scene above of a man lauch­ing a birch­bark ca­noe on quiet water. Que­bec. He moved east in the late 1890s when the Do­min­ion Lands Branch re­lo­cated to Ot­tawa.

In Ot­tawa, he painted every­day scenes, such as this one of a horse-driven pas­sen­ger ferry be­tween Ot­tawa and Quyon, Que­bec. A mod­ern ferry that can carry ninety pas­sen­gers and twenty-one ve­hi­cles still crosses there to­day. Logs on the Gatineau Cas­cades, Que­bec

The Gatineau River was also a busy wa­ter­way for the log­ging in­dus­try. As the paint­ing above il­lus­trates, it was com­mon to see logs float­ing down­river on their way to be pro­cessed at mills in the Ot­tawa re­gion.

Dixon died at his Cas­cades sum­mer res­i­dence in 1914 at the age of fifty-eight.

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