"Riding The Rails In Paradise" This album is dedicated to the members of the Group of Seven.

The Inspiration
 
Grace Lake is located in the beautiful Lacloche Hills near the town of Willisville. Franklin Carmichael first came to this area in 1926 and immediately fell in love with the beauty of these hills. He built a log cabin on Cranberry Lake near the Grace Lake portage trail.
One of his favourite sketching sites was on the West side of Grace Lake which he painted in 1936.
The artist returned to his beloved Lacloche Hills to paint every summer until his death in 1945. Other members of the Group of Seven painted in this area. A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer and A.J. Casson also found inspiration in these hills.
 
Grace Lake

I heard about this lake
In North Ontario
Near the town of Willisville
In the Lacloche Hills
In the Lacloche Hills

I took the C.P.R.
All the way from Toronto
Started out this morning
On this portage trail
In the Lacloche Hills
In the Lacloche Hills

Climbed up on her West side
Climbed up on her best side
In the pouring rain
Couldn’t believe my eyes
I stood there looking down
On the face of Grace (2)

Well I really liked this place
Built me a house on Cranberry Lake
On the portage trail
In these Lacloche Hills (2)

Climbed up on her West side
Climbed up on her best side
In the pouring rain
Couldn’t believe my eyes
I stood there looking down
At the face of Grace (2)

I heard about this lake
In North Ontario
In the Lacloche Hills
In the Lacloche Hills

July 21st / 2008

A.J.Casson, L.L. FitzGerald and E. Holgate were late additions to the group of Seven. They played a very important role in the development of the early Canadian art movement. The song Painter's Country is dedicated to these artists as well as to the original members of the Group of 7.

 A Painter’s Country

Big rolling waves
Crashing on the shore
Sprays of turquoise white and blue
Reds on the maple
In this land of my dreams
Colours of the fall
This land says it all this land says it all
Snow on the pines greens in my mind
Whiskey jack calling
colours on the wind
This land says it all this land says it all

Whitefish running silver in this fall moon light
Rabbits running wild in the Jack pine at night
This land says it all
Diamonds shining bright on this water today
Cattails basking in the light of day
This land says it all

White Pine standing guard on this solemn land
Whispers tales from another time
This land says it all

Big rolling waves crashing on the shore
Sprays of turquoise white and blue
Reds on the maple in this land of my dream
Colours of the fall this land says it all
This land says it all.









A.Y. Jackson in Wawa  /July 14th / 2008


A.Y. Jackson painted in Algoma and was part of the boxcar excursions. Jackson spent a few summers on Lake Superior in the Wawa area. He stayed with Harry Ross at the family cottage on Sandy Beach located three miles from Michipicoten River Village on Lake Superior.

The inspiration for this song came from a story told to me by Mrs. Lyman Buck and her son Brad (Brad owns and operates Buck’s Marina in Michipicoten River Village.)

Her husband Lyman Buck operated the local marina and charter service at the time of this story. He took A.Y. Jackson and a couple of friends on a three day trip to Warp Bay in July of 1962.

According to the ship’s log the group consisting of Captain Buck, A.Y. Jackson, Harry Ross and I.C. Mann left Michipicoten Harbour in the Voyageur II at 10:55 am on July 23 1962 and steered a course for Cape Chaillon rounded the S.E. end of Devil’s Warehouse Island at 14:25 and dropped anchor at the west arm of Warp Bay and lay in Warp Bay all day long.

Later that evening a luxury yacht entered Warp Bay and dropped anchor near the Voyageur II. Lyman Buck told his wife that the people on board the yacht seemed reluctant to make conversation with the “scruffy crew of the Voyageur II” …she said…”A.Y. Jackson dressed like a hobo when he went out on the boat and in the bush!...”
When the news got out that the famous Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson was a passenger on board the Voyageur II the whole crew where invited aboard the yacht for cocktails and supper.

Captain Buck and his crew experienced heavy fog and a rough passage home on their return trip to Michipicoten Harbour. A writer from the Globe and Mail newspaper reported that Captain Lyman Buck from Wawa was the only person he knew of that could kick around the paintings of A.Y. Jackson. Apparently the lake was so rough that Lyman Buck had to move some of Jackson’s sketches with his feet to keep them from getting wet!
with this Warp Bay Sky
Notes: A.Y Jackson would have been 80 years old at the time of this Warp Bay Voyage.
Heavy fog around the Gargantua area is often called the “Dragon’s Breath”
Associated with the Spirit Mishepeshu the Dragon image you can view
at the Agawa pictographs site.

Warp Bay Sky 

I can hear that fog horn blowing
I can heaar those gulls crying on the shore
Surrounded by the dragon's breath
In this land of Mishepeshu
In this land of Mishepeshu
We've got a good man here at the wheel
Captain Buck's going to see us through
Lyman Buck will find the passage home
And I wish old Tom was still around
He'd like the fishing around here
And he would know what to do
with this Warp Bay Sky


I've travelled all over this land
This country has been a mother to me
I've captured her light on an 8x10 frame
She's always been a good friend to me
She's always been a good friend to me
Here I am at the end of my days
Lost in the beauty of this place
In this Land of Mishepeshu
In this Land of the Dragon's Breath
Waiting for the light in this Warp Bay Sky
Waiting for the light in this Warp Bay Sky
In this Warp Bay Sky.

(all words and music copyright Don Charbonneau)




Lawren Harris was the first to travel to Agawa. He came here in the spring of 1918 along with a friend and art patron Dr. J.M.MacCallum.
Harris had suffered a nervous breakdown earlier in the year. He lost his good friend Tom Thomson the summer before and shortly after his younger brother Howard was killed in action in early 1918.
Lawren came to Algoma in a fragile condition but soon regained his energy. This country seemed to be the remedy he needed to start  healing.
The first song I wrote celebrates his journey...here are the lyrics.

Hills of Agawa:Lawren Harris

I lost a good friend in 1917
I lost Howard the very next year
I lost my brother the very next year
Then I almost lost my mind
I feared for my soul

I came up here in Agawa
Took the train from Sault Ste. Marie
My Spirit found a home
This country healed my soul
This country healed my soul

Spent some time in New Mexico
The Arctic and the West Coast to
Took home Isolation Peak
And an Iceberg from The Davis Strait
And a bit of that Desert sun
A bit of that Desert sun

But these hill in Agawa
Are always in my thoughts
My Spirit found a home
This country healed my soul
This country healed my soul


John MacDonald loved Algoma and painted some of his best work in Agawa. He wrote his wife Joan many letters from Agawa describing the beauty of this country.
This is titled after one of his beautiful paintings: Wild River.

Wild River/Box car letters

I'm writing you this letter
from a place far from home
High on this mountain
in the Canadian Shield
I know you like words
so words I'll use
to paint this river that I see

This river runs wild
This river runs deep
Down these canyon walls
to the inland sea
This river runs wild
This river runs free
This river runs deep
inside of me.

Misty mountains
and pristine lakes
In this boreal forest
high above the sea
I'll always remember
the time I spent here
painting the wonders
in this Canadian Shield

This river runs wild
This river runs deep
down these canyon walls
to the inland sea
This river runs wild
This river runs free
This river runs deep
inside of me

I know you like words
so words I'll use
to paint this river that I see


Frank 'Franz' Johnston was a big city boy born and raised in Toronto. He enjoyed painting the wild landscape of Northern Ontario. His painting tiltled 'A Northern Night' inspired this song.

A Northern Night ( For Frank Johnston)

Grew up in the big town of Toronto
worked and lived there
but a place I liked to go
In Northern Ontario
Painted all her seasons
winter spring and summer
but fall I liked the best of all
and those Northern Lights
shining so bright
light up this Northern night
there's magic here tonight
on this Northern night
on this Norhtern night.

(Repeat)

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