From hum­ble be­gin­nings

You can take the boy out the bay, but you can’t take the bay out of the Boy

The Beacon (Gander) - - Community - BY CLARENCE NGOH THE BEA­CON

BOYD’S COVE, NL – The call to re­turn home to New­found­land was too strong to ig­nore. The rugged land­scape and wideopen spa­ces of Change Is­lands, where Ger­ald Squires was born, were vastly dif­fer­ent to the sur­round­ings in Toronto where he worked as a news­pa­per artist.

“He knew he wanted to be a full-time artist, and he knew it would hap­pen even­tu­ally,” said Ger­ald’s wife, Gail.

“He was also deeply af­fected by re­set­tle­ment in Ex­ploits. He left when he was 12, and loved it there. The peo­ple were very good to him and his fam­ily, and the vil­lage took care of the kids when the mum was preach­ing for the Sal­va­tion Army.”

The Squires’ had been talk­ing about moving back to New­found­land, and “on the way to work, whilst ob­serv­ing ev­ery­one else read­ing news­pa­pers on the GO train, he said ‘ok, this is it.’ “So he went and told his boss that he was leav­ing,” Gail said.

Funds were tight, and they were look­ing for ways to raise money for their trip to New­found­land.

“The chil­dren were young, and when chil­dren are young, you have to sup­port them with school and stuff like that.”

Gerry had an un­fin­ished paint­ing that be­longed to the Group of Seven, and Gail won­dered if it could be sold.

“Talk about be­ing dis­re­spect­ful – I was us­ing (the paint­ing) as a file sep­a­ra­tor,” she chuck­led.

They put an ad­ver­tise­ment in the pa­per ask­ing for an offer of $350.

“The phone rang off the hook, and we had a bid­ding war, and we quickly re­alised that this was above our heads.”

They took the paint­ing to Roberts’ Gallery in Toronto, and it was sold for $5,000 – “enough funds to get us to New­found­land.”

Their first stop was Shoal Brook in Bonne Bay; then, a pot­tery course took them to Corner Brook.

An op­por­tu­nity to live in a light­house-keeper’s house in Fer­ry­land came by later, and this was their last stop, for at least 10 years.

“We went to in­spect the house and the win­dows were out, and the paint was peeling off the walls, and there was one line of elec­tric­ity, and that was to the light­house. “We are two miles out to sea, there is no phone, and we had a car that some­one gave us. The only money we had we spent when we lived in Corner Brook.”

The odds were against them, but their sit­u­a­tion be­gan to turn around when book pub­lisher Clyde Rose ap­proached Ger­ald to do some il­lus­tra­tions for a book and “one thing led to an­other,” said Gail.

Word spread that artists were liv­ing in the light­house, and it soon be­came a pop­u­lar tourist spot in the sum­mer.

“We had a New­found­land dog that had pup­pies twice a year, so we had 13 lit­tle New­found­land pup­pies run­ning around – be­tween pot­tery, pup­pies, and Gerry, it was a busy place,” re­calls Es­ther Squires, Ger­ald and Gail’s daugh­ter.

Ger­ald’s strong ties and love for New­found­land brought him and his fam­ily back to this prov­ince, and he is now rec­og­nized as one of New­found­land and Labrador’s most distin­guished artists. Ger­ald died at the age of 77 af­ter bat­tling can­cer in 2015.

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