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It All Started With A Photo

So good of you to take on the website of Clara Harris’ work! It made it so easy to find out about her!

I’m going through my Grandfather's trunk this spring. Most "stuff" in it is over 100 years old. Fascinating!

One photo I found is this one with Clara in it. I'm pretty sure - was taken in front of my grandfather’s house in Cordova Bay between the mid-30s to mid 1940s. I am wondering if my family in Cordova Bay might have been part of the reason why Clara came to stay there. Left to right is my grandfather Frank Pottage, Clara Harris, the lady in the middle, (who I don't know, perhaps a travel companion), my father Alan Pottage and my Grandmother, Dora Pottage. My Grandfather and Grandmother came from Pottageville, Ontario and worked in Toronto for Timothy Eaton in the early 1900s. I’m still not clear how they knew each other, but we have 2 pieces of Clara's work which I will send pictures of later. And I remember Dad saying how Clara used to come to Miracle Beach on Vancouver Island to stay in their resort. I think she did paintings here too.

Gaileen I. Chemanus, B.C.

Gaileen’s information highlights some significant aspects of Clara’s life. Clara, like Gaileen’s grandparents, also came from Pottageville which is located in northeastern King Township, Ontario.,_Ontario Frank, born in 1886 and Clara in 1887, were contemporaries in age so It’s possible that they attended the Pottageville Schoolhouse at the same time. (See photo of Pottageville Schoolhouse, June 2013 Tour on website).

Frank and Dora worked at Eaton’s in Toronto in the early 1900’s and Clara exhibited some of her paintings in the Eaton’s Art Gallery.

It was interesting to read on your website, that Clara was married as a Christian Scientist...that was my Grandmother's interest! And she also grew up as a Methodist - so that might have added to the connection for the family.

Clara and Fred’s December 28, 1918 marriage certificate lists their denominations as Christian Scientist.

Until collector Ken Deeth contacted me there was no reason to believe that Clara painted on the west coast. (See January 22, 2013 Blog, Cordova Bay, B.C.). Fred Harris’ diary as well as many of Clara’s paintings described trips to the Canadian Maritimes, Massachusetts and Maine. But now we know that with the Pottage’s move to Cordova Bay and operation of their Miracle Beach resort, Clara had friends to see, places to stay and new scenes to paint.

I forwarded this photo of Cordova Bay in the 1930’s to Gaileen:

Her reaction:

Wow! McMorrans! These were Mom and Dad’s best man and bridesmaid when they got married in Cordova Bay. Bruce McMorran, Dad’s friend who ran this passed away a few years ago. It was known as McMorrans Beach house till it sold just a few years ago. The building is still there. That’s where I was thinking Clara might have stayed, and for sure had a meal or two there.

McMorrow’s Pavilion at Cordova Bay

Here are photos of Gaileen’s painting which she believes is of Mitlenatch Island. It’s in its original frame, is oil on masonite, measuring 16 x 22”.

Gaileen continues:

These are the rock types at Mitlenatch Island where I volunteer host for the bird sanctuary. They look similar to the painting. And the bottom photo is where I think she might have painted front sitting on the lefthand rocks in the bay across to the righthand rocks in the bay. The little cabin we stay in, is right in the middle where I took the picture from. Just a thought. Not sure if I get out there this summer or next summer,but will certainly scope out the rocks relative to her painting.

Another of Gaileen’s paintings in its original frame, Clara’s signature and address on the back of the canvas, and Gaileen’s notations and measurements 13 ½ X 16 ½”

Two greeting cards designed and created from linocuts by Fred Harris and sent to Gaileen’s grandparents at Miracle Beach:

Greeting Cards.

Fred framed the original card of the log cabin in winter,“The Log Cabin 102B” along with seven others. (See Linocuts Section of site).

And Gaileen has promised one last thing:

I was thinking of walking down the beach in front of that resort, to see if I could find, (and take a picture of) the rocks Clara painted. Would be a fun challenge! It’s only 1 & 1/2 hours drive from where we live in Chemainus. We’ll go there this later this spring for sure to see if we can find that location.

Can’t wait to receive her photos!

In the meantime here’s a question: Looking at this 1930’s photo of the road between Victoria and Cordova Bay, did Clara tackle these roads herself?

Archival view of “Home Near Shore Bridge"


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