The area in Quebec where artist Clemence Saint-Laurent spent a good part of her life, Abitibi (or Quebec North-West), is located south of James Bay.
That region has a continental climate and, given the latitude, bitter colds in the winter. Perhaps it might be noteworthy that the period where most of the paintings displayed were created, extended before there was any talk of ‘climate change’ and, as a consequence, milder winters (except 2015 in the Maritimes).
Also worth of mention is the fact that the snowmobile and winter sports technology drastically changed life in the winter. Before use of the snowmobile became more common in the 1970s, transportation conditions in the winter were difficult and at times risky.
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The artwork original titles in French are mentioned first, followed by an English title in brackets.
Winter in large cities like Toronto or New York looks starkly different than the same season in the countryside. There is not much to be fond off in the middle of drab, icy concrete and asphalt with brown salty slush being splashed over pedestrians by passing traffic. One has to go outside the big centers to be able to enjoy the white, soft, peaceful blanket covering Nature. Life is not completely still – many animals, including birds, are active year round. Feeding the birds that don’t migrate has become a popular activity in our winters.
Aside from shoveling, many activities can only be performed in the winter. One is the tradition, in many families, of cutting down their own Christmas tree in a nearby forest. Horse-drawn sleigh rides are making a comeback in some areas, especially during the winter holidays. Then in March, for the regions where sugar maples are plentiful, there’s the sap season. And April, in Abitibi, is the season for opening up the cottages for the summer season.
The winter sports industry has drastically changed the way sports are practiced in the winter. Equipment for skiing and skating-related sports is more sophisticated and safer, and more expensive. The paintings featured here hark back to some fifty years ago, when kids would skate on a frozen pond after school and chairlifts were rarely found on smaller ski centers.
Below are some more paintings of winter-related scenes. The ‘Cat from the Sky’ painting was a gift to one of the artist’s nieces. Clemence St. Laurent even wrote a little story about this cat, which can be read here.