I had the extreme pleasure to meet and spend time with Canadian folk singer Phyllis Sinclair this summer. Phyllis is such an inspiring and warm soul and once you meet her, you feel comfortable and welcomed. We both share some of our roots in Northern Manitoba, Phyllis was born in Churchill and I was born in The Pas before moving to the mecca that is Fort McMurray. Of course I only remember visiting relatives as a young boy but I always feel a bond with others that come from northern town and communites and Manitoba in particular has a special place in my heart. If you can please take the time to read her bio from her website and you’ll enjoy her life journey and diverse path she took. From working on air as co-host with CBC Daybreak to a completely different path with Canadian fisheries she’s lead an amazing and diverse life so far. I really hope I was able to encapsulate her soul and spirit in the imagery and I can’t wait to hear what she produces in her storytelling in the new year.
I met with Phyllis at her and her husbands farm North of Edmonton and I couldn’t have been more inspired by the setting they live in and the family homestead. In fact it’s so special that as we speak they are preparing for an award ceremony called the Alberta Century Farm and Ranch Award, given to families that have operated the land for at least one hundred years. It was so interesting and couldn’t have made for a more impressive shoot location.
I also thought I’d share some words as told to me by Phyliss as I asked her what she was doing lately and instead of paraphrasing and butchering her thoughts and sentiments I felt it appropriate to relay the message as it was told to me. I think when you read her words you too will feel the connection that I felt when I met her. Enjoy!
For the past couple of weeks I’ve laid down my guitar and pen, for a corn broom and dustpan! I’ve been dusting memories off of old furnishings and photographs inside of our old farmhouse. I’ve scrubbed, mended and polished anything that is worn, cracked, frayed, or tarnished that I’ve been able to rescue from either the dank root cellar, or the cobwebbed attic. No, I’m not preparing for the Antiques Road Show or expecting a visit from the Canadian Pickers. Actually, I’m cleaning up the old farm house in preparation for the 100th anniversary celebration of our family farm. As I handled each piece and artifact I wondered what pleasure the item brought to its original owner of that earlier time. Take for example the porcelain hunting dog figurine that I found on an attic shelf. Who did this dog belong to? A man or a woman? Were they young, or old? And what inspired them to purchase a glass dog? Hmmm? It looked like the kind of figurine I would pass by without thought in a second hand shop. Yet, here I was polishing it with deep curiosity and care. I did the same kind of musing with the old books, coloured glass, and wooden crates that I had dug out, cleaned and shined. I wondered who, why, and under what circumstances? I’d even gone so far as to wonder who tracked in the dirt I washed up from between the cracks of the old wood floor. Yes. Cleaning out the old farmhouse has been a lot of hard work. However, this project has really piqued my imagination, and inspired my thoughts. Oddly enough, I feel as though I have reunited old friends, who at one time collectively gave life and meaning to an new home of an earlier time. Now, they’ve been brought back together to give new meaning, and pride, to a tired old house that has stood the test of time. While I’m looking forward to laying down the broom, I’m looking forward, even more, to and transforming these old pieces into new songs. And perhaps, just perhaps, one day, someone will pick up my farmhouse influenced notepad and wonder too!