FREDERICK ARTHUR VERNER, O.S.A., A.R.C.A.
Private Collection, U.S.A.
Joan Murray, The Last Buffalo: The Story of Frederick Arthur Verner, Painter of the Canadian West, Pagurian Press, Toronto, 1984, page 53-62.
Joan Murray writes that "according to family legend,” Verner's first contact with the Ojibway people took place in 1862, his second in 1870, his third in 1873 and his fourth around 1890. Of these trips, however, Murray notes there are only two that are actually documented: Verner’s trip in 1873 during which time he made and dated a number of sketches (including Figure 1) which would become crucial to his output, and the circa 1890 trip.
Murray notes that during the 1873 trip, which he likely embarked upon following the O.S.A. Spring Exhibition of that year, "Verner drew five very important sketches of Indians from life. They were to become sources to which he would refer again and again. (Figure 1) is the first of this series" and is the sketch on which Lot 54 is directly based.
Murray describes the 1873 trip west as "the most important event of (Verner's) life.” She continues: "Verner devoted 1874 to developing a number of canvases based on the small sketches he had drawn at Lake of the Woods.” Referring to Verner's submission to the June 1874 O.S.A. Exhibition, Murray notes: "To round out his repertory he showed some unsold paintings from 1873. Ojibway camp, Northern Shore of Lake Huron (1873, National Gallery of Canada) is probably (italics ours) Ojibway Camp of the North West Angle of the Lake of the Woods.” We can now refute this supposition as, indeed, the painting submitted to that exhibition was almost assuredly this lot.
The Northwest Angle of Lake of the Woods is the northernmost part of the lake contiguous to the United States and, as such, served as a contentious area in treaties defining the international border of this "fifth" Great Lake. The so-called Treaty #3 was signed by Lt. Governor of Manitoba, Alexander Morrison, on behalf of the crown at the North West Angle around the time of Verner's 1873 trip. Unlike other treaties involving the First Nations, which often needed to be revised, Treaty #3 shaped the treaties which followed and seems to have created a more enduring peace.