Two by Emily Carr

Klee Wyck by Emily Carr

Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver, 2003

Purchased at the Vancouver Art Gallery in Vancouver, BC.

Klee Wyck, the name given to Emily Carr by the people of Ucluelet, means “Laughing One”.

A book of stories and word sketches based on the artist’s experiences visiting and living with First Nations people on Vancouver Island and along the British Columbia coast.  Beautifully written in clear and direct language, as vivid as her paintings.

After her death whole sections of the book were removed for an “educational” printing, including derogatory descriptions of missionaries at Ucluelet and observations of their negative reactions to Native beliefs and family life.

The Book Of Small by Emily Carr

Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver, 2004

Purchased at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

This book is a collection of word sketches that describe Emily Carr’s life as a young girl growing up in Victoria, British Columbia, during the time the town grew from a frontier village on the edge of Vancouver Island, into a thriving community that would, in time, become the capital of that province.

As in Klee Wyck Carr’s simple prose paints clear pictures of the community and local characters.  She was an observant and rebellious child, often questioning the adults around her.  These traits served her well as she developed her independence and her art.

As far back as I can remember Father’s place was all made and in order.  The house was large and well built, of California redwood, the garden prim and carefully tended.  Everything about it was extremely English.  It was as though Father had buried a tremendous homesickness in this new soil and it had rooted and come up English.  There were hawthorn hedges, primrose banks and cow pastures with shrubberies.

We had an orchard and a great tin-lined apple room, wonderful strawberry beds and raspberry and currant bushes, all from imported English stock, and an Isabella grape which Father took great pride in.  We had chickens and cows and a pig, a grand vegetable garden — almost everything we ate we grew on our own place.

I  have mentioned before that Emily Carr is one of my favorite artists.  Her life and her art show tremendous determination at a time when being an artist was a very difficult path for a women.

Totem Walk at Sitka


Filed under CanadianBookChallenge3, Nonfiction, Review

9 responses to “Two by Emily Carr

  1. I read The Book of Small years and years and YEARS ago, after first discovering that such a person as Emily Carr existed when I visited her former home in Victoria. I should re-read someday; I don’t feel I got much out of it at the time. She was such an interesting woman.

  2. I haven’t heard of Carr before. I’ll definitely add her books to my TBR list. Gavin, you’re constantly inspiring me with your reading!

  3. I love her art, too! We’re planning a trip to Victoria soon so I can see where she lived and visit the museum there.

  4. I have never cried so much as the afternoon that I attended a talk given by First Nations people in a community center in Edinburgh, Scotland. They were doing an European tour to explain to the outside world the struggles they face in their land.
    I will most definitely see out the Emily Carr book, it sounds fascinating!

    • Saray – Thank you for the comment! I discovered Carr as an artist first. She painted First Nation totems and villages, both occupied and abandoned.

  5. I’m so glad you enjoyed these – I think Emily Carr’s writing is as wonderful as her painting. Her books are favourites of mine, so many thoughtful elements especially in her journal Hundreds and Thousands.

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