A Brush with Henschel: A last blaze of colour

A Brush with Henschel: A last blaze of colour

In autumn, the predominant colour varies all the way from a light lemon yellow to a rusty orange.

I did this painting on a huge granite rock overlooking the Winnipeg River in Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park. It is where I grew up. My father was a trapper and, later, owned a tourist camp here in the Canadian Shield.

People on the West Coast, unless they have spent time there, are mostly oblivious to The Canadian Shield, an area that covers over one third of Canada. The Shield, a storehouse of minerals, contains many of Canada’s most productive mines. The valuable minerals, too numerous to list here, are often found locked in its granite. These granite hills used to be mountains eons ago but now only their roots are left to pop up here and there between hundreds of thousands of lakes and muskeg.

Exposed by the Ice Age, on the surface of the granite, you can still see the striations made, wherever the lichens and the mosses haven’t taken over, as it passed over and polished the surface of this incredibly hard rock.

In autumn, the predominant colour of the foliage varies all the way from a light lemon yellow to a rusty orange. The birches, such as the one in the painting, are the most striking, with their white trunks and bright golden leaves juxtaposed against a background of dark green jack pines.

Next in brilliance are the poplars with leaves slightly darker in hue. Last, with a variety of browns, are the Garry oaks.

The oaks, by the way, aren’t indigenous to this area but were inadvertently planted here by First Nation’s people who used the river to go from Lake Winnipeg to Lake of the Woods and vice versa.

The acorns were gathered in the Lake Winnipeg and Red River area, where oak trees were naturally abundant, and carried as part of their food supply for their forays upriver.

Most of the good campsites along the river are very easy to spot for they nearly always have a grove of oak trees on them!

To mention fall colours; several years ago, in traveling back to our North Island home by car, we chose No. 3 Highway at the extreme southern edge of B.C. It is slower driving but far more interesting with a variety of the province’s older towns embellishing it. The fall colours were incredible! Along the valleys the birches and aspen were in their golden glory, while up the mountainsides the larches or tamarack painted the slopes a deep orange. I felt I wanted to play “Johnny Appleseed” and transplant some of theses bright colours to North Island.

As much as I love North Island it is the one thing that I miss each fall.

We do have colour in all the shrubs around us but the larger hardwoods are mostly alders that change but little before they shed their leaves. I have seen gorgeous colours up higher on the slopes of mountains such as Cain but, again, these are mostly smaller shrubs such as huckleberries.

Along the highways, a few isolated but brilliant poplars make a statement along the Nimpkish River, below Woss. From there, on down island, the Rock Maples and a few poplars put on a great display.

The Zeballos road passes through some high country with brilliant colours at the roadside. But then that’s another story and another painting.

Comments: email: gordon@cablerocket.com website: www.henschel.ca

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press Media file
Port Hardy RCMP on the hunt for porta-pottie arsonist

The porta-potties were lit on fire early in the morning on June 13

Eke Me-Xi students enjoy a field trip to Malcolm Island. (Submitted photos)
Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre takes field trip to Malcolm Island

Once at Bere Point, students made themselves at home in the day-use area

Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair logo
Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair cancelled again due to COVID-19 restrictions

The 2022 fall fair is still scheduled to take place in Port Hardy

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Most Read