Am­a­teur painter chron­i­cles his­tory of many Man­i­toba churches in wa­ter­colour

Cape Breton Post - - NEWBEGINNINGS -

GIMLI, Man. (CP)— Mil­lard Barteaux grew up in a light­house in Nova Sco­tia.

Per­haps that ex­plains why he’s so at­tracted to ru­ral Man­i­toba churches. They are soli­tary bea­cons, too, on the prairie land­scape.

Barteaux, an am­a­teur painter, has painted 160 churches in the In­ter­lake, the re­gion north of Win­nipeg and be­tween lakes Win­nipeg and Man­i­toba. This in­cludes ev­ery church along High­ways 7, 8, and 9 in the east­ern In­ter­lake, from the Perime­ter High­way to Mathe­son Is­land. Some churches that are no longer stand­ing he has painted from archival pho­tos. His medium is wa­ter­colours.

“Each lit­tle town would have six or seven churches. Gimli had 12, past and present,” he said. There have been nine churches in Stonewall that he knows of and painted, and eight in Teu­lon.

His paint­ings res­onate for a lot of peo­ple who be­longed to a cer­tain parish or had a fam­ily con­nec­tion. “They’ll say, ’Oh, my grand­fa­ther is buried there,”’ in the church’s ceme­tery.

Barteaux used to run a Ch­ester Chicken/Sub Sta­tion restau­rant just south of Gimli. He hung his first church paint­ing there, of the Ukrainian Catholic church in Ko­marno, in 1993. “Then some­one would say, ‘ Where’s my church?”’

So he’d go out and paint that church. Each church took about 20 hours to paint. “It just kept go­ing. It was my holy grail. I’d go out on the road and find th­ese churches,” Barteaux said.

“I ended up with 160 of them. ... In my restau­rant, there wasn’t room to hang an­other one. Peo­ple would just come in and stand around looking at the walls.”

The New Ice­landic Her­itage Mu­seum in Gimli hung all 160 paint­ings on its walls in the sum­mer of 2002.

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