The world is a little less interesting this week…
Last weekend, Elva (Stephens) Bowes passed away at the age of 91. I had the privilege of meeting her in late 2009 and we spent the afternoon talking about the old Livingstone/Stephens farm. She welcomed me into her home that sat on the very edge of the original farm property and she shared her family’s stories. Elva was a warm and sparkling personality in a tiny package, full of vigour and very independent. I visited her a on a couple of occasions and each time she gave me a hug before I left.
Elva’s favourite flowers were a pink phlox that originated in her mother, Belle’s, garden at the old house. They are beautiful this year and grow in the gardens of Belle’s grandchildren. If you look for the thread – it is always there.
The original farmhouse has changed hands many times and it is rumoured that it will be torn down before the end of the year. It is the end of an era, for Elva’s family and for Muskoka. She will be greatly missed.
Change is a gradual thing. Like the movement of earth, most of the time it seems almost imperceptible until, like an earthquake, the whole world seems to turn on its ear. Eventually all those who remember pass on and history disappears. Thanks to Elva, her father’s farm and Neil Livingstone’s heartbreak will not be lost to history.
I have been enriched for knowing Elva and many of her remarkable generation that have opened their lives, their family homes and history to me. The paintings and all of my work in the series is dedicated to them and wouldn’t exist without them.
I am planning to take another short hiatus from the blog to focus on the Muskoka book.
In a few weeks, I begin the search for a farm that was once my great grandfather Kennedy’s. My current residence puts me in easy striking distance of the Simcoe archives and the area the farm is supposed to be. Anyone with experience in genealogy and knowledge of the Barrie/Midland/Wyebridge area – your help and comments would be greatly welcomed! Stay tuned…