Summer Ends - And I look forward to the Next Chapter

Posted by Susan Stanley on

Firstly, I think I should address the low point that was my friend Cor Guimond’s passing earlier this summer. 

He and I first met in the early 80’s. He actually gave me my first sled dogs. Through shared experiences, proximity, and humour a deep friendship, more like a brotherhood developed, and through the following years that bond never  faded.

For many years we both lived a bush life. But times change and we move on to different chapters in life. This said, despite leaving the bush life behind me my bond with Cor remained.
It's a funny thing, two people as familiar with death as Cor and I, (hunting and trapping was very much a way of life for us) that one is  surprised and perhaps disbelieving when someone very close to you  ceases to be. In any event, this is where we find ourselves.
I’m happy his battle with cancer is over and he’s at peace now.
Here's how I'll always remember Cor - happy and curious about life.

This picture was taken a couple of years ago. His with his daughter Shay.

On a higher note, as things stand now the canoe I was working on has proven its worth with a short cruise down the Yukon River.

The client who bought the canoe is very satisfied with the work and the canoe now decorates his home! I've lost count but I think this is my 13 birch bark canoe. 

The mammoth Stuart Schmidt, (another close friend) and I joined forces on is finished too. I’m happy to say it took less time than  originally planned. It was long days and hard work, but it felt great to do something I had been thinking about for so long. In the very early stages of this project I spent forever going over the steps in my mind so when it came time to turn thought into action, there wasn’t that much deviation from what I had anticipated mentally.

The hardest part of the mammoth was the decision to start. I think there’s always a moment in any project where you really have to think long and hard about what you’re actually taking on. It is one thing to plan how much sand and cement and rebar you need, and it’s a very different thing to be confronted with the presence of this in your yard - staring at you day after day. Waiting to finish, while your wife also stares at the same pile of supplies and waits. The pressure was on. 


The project started with a massive base made of cement and rebar, and from that the skeleton of the mammoth was attached. It was tedious building the skeleton and having to bend so much rebar by hand to get the correct form and shape, but the extra time and attention I spent on that made every other step much smoother. I really have to say that all the previous cement work I’ve done helped immensely. Every mistake I made previously was one I could see coming and avoid this time around. 


This mammoth presented so many challenges, and it was sometimes easy to get overwhelmed and start doubting myself. Questions like, “Does the skeleton look proportionate?”  “Will it still look proportionate finished?”  “How the hell am I supposed to wrap this big bugger in chicken wire?” These questions haunted me!

 I would definitely say the greatest challenge was the consistency of the cement. And finding sand. That was one problem we did not anticipate. It seems like we have an abundance of sand here in the Yukon, and we do in reality, but none of it was consistently fine enough for what we needed. Some sand was better than others, but much of the sand was full of  tiny rocks and it would drag and scratch the cement when I was smoothing out the texture. Thankfully we were able to find what we needed in Edmonton and had it shipped up. 

From there it was really kind of straightforward. One step at a time: Build skeleton, wrap skeleton in chicken wire, start cementing. If I’m being honest with you, the challenges are some of my favourite things. Sure they sort of suck in the moment, but that’s where the real progress and growth happen. If it were all easy there would be a  lesser sense of accomplishment.

Sweat, blood and frustration aside, watching this beast come to life under my hands was so much fun. Who knows, maybe next will come along a little mammoth family.

 Everything timing wise worked out wonderfully this summer I had thought I would have a bit of an overlap between the colours starting to turn and wanting to paint, and the end of the mammoth but like I said, this came together quicker than I had thought it would. I welcomed having a bit of down time to relax my sore muscles, but after that I was ready to get back into painting.

Just a few days ago I went to my favourite spot close to the Dempster highway and did some Plein-Air painting.

I have a big solo show coming up next May (2020) at a wonderful gallery in Victoria B.C. - Madrona (- so painting it is for the next several weeks. The colours are spectacular this time of year in the Yukon and get more so as fall descends. 

I'll give you an update on my painting progress in October - stay tuned!


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