Monday, October 5, 2009

The Artist and the Colonel

This is the story of a loving marriage between two strong-minded, accomplished and well-known Nova Scotians. The artist, Mabel Killam Day, made her name as a Canadian painter, and her popularity continues to grow. The Colonel, Frank Parker Day, was a celebrated Canadian novelist (his novel, Rockbound, published in 1929, was chosen by the CBC as their best read of 2007). He was also a Rhodes Scholar, Colonel of the Cape Breton Highlanders (WWI) and college president in the USA. This book chronicles the couple’s struggles to make a living with their art, and their many accomplishments. It is heavily illustrated with black and white photos as well as a selection of Mabel's paintings in full colour. Alex Colville, the renowned painter, who knew both Mabel and Frank, has written a short preface.

Mabel Killam Day encouraged Bill Crowell to study art and Frank Parker Day knew him as an infantry veteran and urged him towards teaching and writing.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

To order books or paintings

To order books or paintings, please contact me by e-mail.  My most recent book, The Artist and the Colonel, is available through and qualifies for free shipping.  Last year, The Artist and the Colonel was the number one seller at the premier bookstore in Nova Scotia.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Vengeance House

 This picture illustrates the morning of 4 June, 1790, Old King George's Birthday.  The militia is gathering by the cannon- "Squire Kelley's Pocket Piece".  It is General Training Day and in the afternoon there will be a parade.

 John Richan and Col. Ranald MacKinnon (both born in Scotland) have put up the old colours Union Jack and John Richan is just putting finishing touches to his tavern sign, Vengeance House (used as courthouse, council chambers and jail).  John Richan had been an officer aboard H.M.S. Vengeance.

 Squire Kelley and Capt. Waitstill Lewis are seated outside chatting.  The two ladies in the doorway are twin sisters, Chloe and Lydia.  Widow Chloe Butler Barnard married Waitstill Lewis and widow Lydia Butler Patch married John Richan. 

Red Coats of Ragged Island

 During the war of 1812, there was a good deal of privateering (license to steal).  A lot of these craft were small, with the crews only picking on fishing smacks and isolated settlers. 

 Jonathan Locke, of Ragged Islands (Lockeport) was away to the fishing grounds when a privateer showed up beyond Cranberry Island.  The women of the household turned out their red lined underskirts and, with make-believe muskets and makeshift drum, scared off the vessel.

 There are other communities with similar stories.

Brig. Micmac

Built in 1847, by C. and G.W. Tooker, she was skippered by W. Henry Lewis, one of his first charges.

Tern Schooner

 By the 1900's, square-rigged ships were things of the past.  Fore and aft rig required fewer sailors.  Captain William B. Crowell skippered one of these vessels with deals (lumber) from the Bay of Fundy to Boston. 

 My Grandfather, Rev. Charles E. Crowell, tried his hand as one of the crew.  He found that life as a sailor was not for him.

The Privateer Sturdy Beggar

When the American Revolutionary War started, Waitstill Lewis was a tavern keeper in Halifax. His sympathies were with the rebels. He hastened back to Boston to take his part in the insurgency and was signed on as purser aboard the newly built privateer, the Sturdy Beggar. She was a well-appointed and manned craft but her fate remains a mystery. After leaving Boston, she was never heard from again.Nor was Waitstill Lewis whose wife applied for and received a Revolutionary War pension.