ALFRED JOSEPH CASSON, O.S.A., P.R.C.A.
Roberts Gallery Limited, Toronto
Fireside Gallery Inc., Kleinburg
Private Collection, Maple, Ontario
La Cloche Mountains in the Canadian Shield extends along the north shore of Lake Huron just above Manitoulin Island from La Cloche Provincial Park in the west to Killarney Provincial Park in the east. Named after the French word for “bell,” it has a distinctive ringing sound when struck, and was believed to be used by the First Nations to signal for help or send warnings in times of danger. This mountain range is characterised by its white quartzite peaks and offers breath-taking panoramic views.
It is no surprise then that it was a travel and sketching destination for a number of Group of Seven artists, among them A.J. Casson (1898-1992), who brought views of the unique beauty of this place to their viewers and popularised it as a tourist site. In this painting, Casson has eloquently represented the vast splendour of the La Cloche region. From an elevated position, the spectator can take in a spectacular panorama of unspoiled Ontario wilderness.
What is unseen here, though alluded to in the title of the painting, is the excavation activities relating to the exploitation of natural resources that impacted the land in the La Cloche area. Group members were instrumental in “rescuing” the region, particularly Killarney Provincial Park, from logging and industrial work to preserve it for generations to come. Casson’s imagery of La Cloche, in a way, has become a symbol of environmental awareness, especially today in the face of climate change. This painting is a reminder of the cost of human interference and the beauty that must be preserved.