Having access to Fred Harris’ diary, provides actual details of Clara’s life as an artist which otherwise could only have been speculative. Diary entries describe a married couple, ahead of its time. Fred and Clara encouraged each other to pursue personal artistic ambitions even when it meant travelling separately for long periods of time; often in inclement weather; with less than today’s modernities in transportation and accommodation. Provided with these details alters the viewer’s perception of Clara’s works.
Consider her two paintings of Haliburton in the winter: Horses Pulling Logs and Winter in Haliburton. These are not the result of a casual pastime designed for a lady of leisure. As described in the diary Clara took at least five winter trips over a period of four years varying in length from five days to three weeks. There were inconveniences and unplanned circumstances.
March 16, 1938 - Clara off to Haliburton
March 21, 1938 - letter from Clara
- letter to Clara
January 10, 1939 - Clara off to Haliburton 8 am. Day is starting fair and nice
January 15, 1939 - letter to Clara in Haliburton
February 5, 1939 - Clara home about 3:30
February 20, 1940 – Clara coming down with a cold right after evening out, all packed for Haliburton
February 25, 1940 - Clara off for Haliburton
February 27, 1940 - Clara at Haliburton
March 20, 1940 - Clara back from Haliburton
February 11, 1941 - Clara off for Haliburton
March 3, 1941 - Clara phoned from Haliburton
April 1, 1941 - Clara away to Haliburton
April 10, 1941 - Clara home at 12 midnight
Clara sums it up:
"It takes a lot of hard work to bring Haliburton snows into the living room." from The Toronto Telegram, January 3, 1962 article,
“Artist Leads Trend Oil Painting Gifts–Not Gold Watches”.