Reflections on The Other NFB

A note from visitor Peter Young and his reaction to The Other NFB and the “Bren Gun Girl” Veronica Foster.

I visited the RMG on Sunday to take in The Other NFB, and I’d like to say that it’s just a great exhibit. The photographs portray such a wonderful variety of life in Canada over 30 years between 1941 and 1971. I understand it’s curated by Dr. Carol Payne from Carleton University who has also authored a comprehensive book “The Official Picture” on this subject, published in 2013.

I have some information for you, along with a few visuals, that I thought you’d enjoy which relate to a selection of the photos.

There were a number of photographs in The Other NFB depicting “Bren Gun Girl” Veronica Foster, very effective shots portraying women’s roles in munitions factories in Canada during WWII. Seeing Veronica was so coincidental because I recognized her name, having used a photo of her (not in the exhibit) on the cover of one my books “Let’s Dance – A Celebration of Ontario’s Dance Halls and Summer Dance Pavilions.”

Bren Gun Girl Ronnie Foster with son Thomas 1973 9

Bren Gun Girl Ronnie Foster with son Thomas 1973

The photograph I used is one of a series taken at the Glen Eagle Country Club on May 10, 1941, where she’s dancing with Michael Craig. I obtained it from the National Archives and have included the related info. This is the same date the other shots in the exhibit were taken, and at the same locale. In fact you can see the chandelier and the French door in the background, and there’s a juke box in mine.

After a little research, I discovered that Veronica, or “Ronnie” as she seemed to be called, was also a Big Band singer. She performed with the Mart Kenney Orchestra as well as Trump Davidson. Mart’s band was known across Canada, doing regular radio broadcasts and performances. He was based in BC but toured the country relentlessly for over 60 years and was heavily involved with raising funds for bonds during WWII as well. Trump Davidson was also one of Canada’s best jazz arrangers, composers and band leaders. He led the house band for years at the Palace Pier in Toronto.

Ronnie met her future husband, trombonist George Guerrette who performed with Trump. They had 5 kids and from what I can determine, George passed away and Ronnie moved back to Toronto when her family was rather young. One of her sons, also named George, followed in his Dad’s footsteps and has been involved with music for most of his life.

Bren Gun Girl Ronnie Foster

Bren Gun Girl Ronnie Foster

My book “Let’s Dance” covers many of the venues in Ontario where people met, socialized, enjoyed entertainment and often formed life-long relationships from the late 1920’s up to the early years of rock & roll. You might be interested to know that the Jubilee Pavilion in Oshawa’s Lakeview Park, built in 1927, is one of the few original dance pavilions remaining in the Province. It successfully made the transition from Big Band to Rock music under the management of Owen McCrohan – affectionately known as “Onie McCronie” around town – who ran the place for 50 years!

I thought you’d like to read this “story behind the photo.” It’s always interesting to learn more about subjects in photos that captured a moment in time.

Bren Gun Girl Ronnie Foster in Chester NS 1999

Bren Gun Girl Ronnie Foster in Chester NS 1999

During the 1960’s and 1970’s Peter Young used to work in a number of rock and roll bands, playing in many of the dance halls and summer dance pavilions throughout the province. Most of these venues have disappeared over the years.

He has written three books about this subject, the most recent one is “Let’s Dance,” published by Dundurn.  Writing the books has been part of Peter’s interest in nostalgia and pop culture. He researches destinations where people went for their entertainment and to socialize, including small town movie theatres, drive-in movie theatres, older diners and other aspects of life from the post-war era, particularly places which have survived and continue to operate. Peter runs his own business, PDA Communications Ltd in Oshawa, where he works as a freelance writer.

Interview with Janice E. McHaffie, Gallery A Artist in Residence

Janice E. McHaffie is our Gallery A ArtLab artist is residence from From January 5 – February 28. Prior to her artist talk on February 7, we sat down with Janice to learn more about her work and what she has been up to during her residency.

RMG: Hi Janice! Please tell us about yourself?

JM: I am an artist from Claremont. I have about 16 years of university level art specific training including 5 years fine arts at Durham College and a year at OCAD. Having started with stone carving at the University of Guelph in the early 1970’s, my work has progressed and metamorphosed into an eclectic range of paintings with hundreds of them in public and private collections around the world. I am also the Youth Liaison for Pineridge Arts Council, Pickering.


RMG: What materials do you work with?

JM: While at The RMG I will be working with acrylic ink, acrylic paint, acrylic gels and mediums, watercolour papers canvas board and stretched canvas. I will also be sculpting from whatever moves me at the time to work with.

Janice McHaffie

Janice McHaffie

RMG: Why were you interested in Gallery A’s Art Lab residency? What have you made while working as an artist in residence/ what will you be working on during your residency?

JM: I was interested in the residency in Gallery A because I wanted to interact with the public while creating and wanted to invite them to actively participate with the theme and two art projects. So far, I have only created three small canvas works and some ink on yupo.  By February 25 (closing ceremony 7-9pm) I will have filled all the walls in Gallery A with paintings. I will also have created 2 collages and a sculpture. I am hoping to have close to 100 small paintings done by that date.


RMG: Can you please tell us a bit about your exhibition on view in Gallery A or what you intend to create for the viewer?

JM: The paintings on view in Gallery A and everything I create while I am there is following my theme of Dying and Death. I will be opening the floor to talk about these topics, hopefully helping people to converse in an easier format through the visual aid of the artwork.


Janice McHaffie

RMG: What inspires you? Is there a particular artist’s work that has influenced your practice?

JM: What inspires me is everything and everyone who passes through my life, from what others perceive as the profound to the mundane. Children affect me most with their boundless energy and creative inquisitiveness. I love how they just spit out what they are thinking. Coincidentally that is exactly how I am. Artists who have inspired me include Auguste Rodin since I started with stone sculpture, and my initial paintings were inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe. Now I just paint what comes out of me. My work is always about texture and the layers of life, I have been called the “texture queen” for years, and I guess they have a point : ). Every day is an adventure to me and at the RMG. I get to share the adventure with all of you!

Looking Back: Five years of RMG Fridays

What makes RMG Fridays so special? That all depends on who you ask. With so many different things going on at each RMG Friday, the gallery will still deliver, but the experience will strike a different cord with each person you ask.

We asked the wonderful staff at the RMG what they love and remember most about RMG Fridays as a tribute to five years of art, music, laughter and delight.

Our CEO, Donna Raetsen-Kemp recalls a mesmerizing moment watching one of our live music acts. “I’ll never forget the evening Birds of Bellwood created a magic moment. The room was mesmerized by their performance. It’s a beautiful thing to see a band bring a group of people together.”

boxing artists

A true art buff, Sam Mogelonsky, Manager of Marketing and Communications, has been star-struck several times by meeting her favourite artists at our events. “I have so many memories of RMG Fridays and love seeing the event come together each month. For me, it’s meeting the artists! I was so thrilled to get to meet and chat with Ron Shuebrook, who I had been following the work of for years. Meeting Coral Short was a real privilege as I was enthralled with her video Stop Beating Yourself Up during our Boxing: The Sweet Science exhibition. As well, meeting Wayne Petti of Greylands was a treat as Cuff the Duke was one of my favourite bands during undergrad!”

One of the main ladies behind RMG Fridays, Carla Sinclair, Manager of Community and Volunteer Development, remembers the charmed aura from December’s cozy holiday feel. “My favourite part of RMG Fridays is connecting with incredible people. This happens every month, be it conversations with visitors, volunteers or participating artists. One moment that really stands out is from our “Holiday Magic” event this past December. I had the privilege of witnessing singer Carolyn T from the first set of music join musicians Artemis and Dale in set two for an unrehearsed performance that filled the gallery with a sense of awe. The hushed room resonating with notes and harmonies created by a group of musicians who had only met a couple hours prior – another magical connection a la RMG Fridays.”

Linda Jansma, our Senior Curator, had an unexpected celebrity sighting when she realized how popular one of our performers had become since booking him as she saw swooning fans had filled the gallery! “I remember driving up to the gallery on a Friday evening and thinking ‘uh oh, there are so few cars here…’ and worrying about the turnout. When I walked in, the place was packed, and young women were sitting on chairs in the Isabel McLaughlin Gallery with no intent of moving before the second act. And the second act was Scott Helman. It was awesome that he and his band were booked before he really started to get media attention – and possibly beyond our budget! As we left that evening, cars were lined up with parents picking up their daughters who had been treated to an awesome evening in a perfect venue and an artist who has become something of a household name.”

scott helman

Our Associate Curator, Sonya Jones, reminisces about a magical and Celtic night last month. “Every RMG Fridays offers something different. I love it it’s always full of people of all ages. The January [event] was amazing; the film was excellent, Holly King was lovely, and the studio was chalk full of families painting fairy doors…not to mention the band, Ugly Horse, was great. It was a packed house with loads of buzz and activities!”

Cheryl-Ann, our Events Coordinator, sums up everything she loves most about RMG Fridays. “The RMG Fridays nights have certainly gone through many transitions over the last five years. The evening has become a place to meet friends before heading out to have dinner, or to enjoy a date night. The music is always entertaining and usually a fantastic surprise. The atmosphere is electric for a great evening. It’s always refreshing to talk to a first time guest one month and see them back the next. Meeting first-hand the community and guests from the surrounding area is joyous and very rewarding. It is an event we have every month and [is] very much anticipated by many staff and enjoyed by our supports; and it’s free, who doesn’t love that?”


Carla Sinclair, our Manager of Community and Volunteer Development said “My favourite part of RMG Fridays is connecting with incredible people. This happens every month be it conversations with visitors, volunteers or participating artists. One moment that really stands out is from our ‘Holiday Magic’ event this past December. I had the privilege of witnessing singer Carolyn T from the first set of music join musicians Artemis and Dale in set two for an unrehearsed performance that filled the gallery with a sense of awe. The hushed room resonating with notes and harmonies created by a group of musicians who had only met a couple hours prior – another magical connection a la RMG Fridays.”

In five years, RMG Fridays has grown into the hotspot for art and music lovers on the first Friday of every month. According to our staff, the nights are full of unforgettable music filling the Isabel, favourite artists peeking around the gallery, strangers who soon become friends, and a little bit of magic.

The RMG Fridays 5th Anniversary on Feb. 5th  will be short on nothing, and if you haven’t felt the magic yet, now is your chance.

Now that you’ve seen what our favourite memories are, what are yours? Tell us at RMG Fridays 5th Anniversary!

Spend Valentine’s Day at the RMG

Step up your Valentine’s Day game this year! Make a memorable impression on your special someone or have a great day off with the family at the RMG. Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday this year so you have the perfect opportunity to spend the whole day celebrating with your loved ones at the RMG.

Family making art

For the Family

Start the morning by heading to the RMG’s Valentine’s Day Brunch together and dig into the delicious menu from Pilar’s Catering. The menu features something for everyone in the family, even the pickiest of eaters, with baked goods, a full hot breakfast including everything from bacon to French toast, salads, cheeses, and finally a dessert buffet. With two seating’s available at 10:30am and 12:30pm, you’ll have lots of time to enjoy your quiet Sunday morning before the fun begins. Reservations are required so be sure to book your seats soon before they fill up.

After bunch, you can head down to one of our many galleries to check out the latest exhibitions and pieces from our permanent collection, or bring the little ones down to the studio for the Valentine’s addition of our monthly OPG Second Sundays. Work together to explore various materials to create heart shape inspired activities including sun catchers and garlands using diffusing paper and expressive abstract paintings in the studio. On your way out, be sure to check out the RMG Shop. Young or old, there are plenty of last minute Valentine’s gifts, like the Rob Ryan His n’ Her coffee mug set for mom and dad, or a craft kit and hand-made sock puppets for the little ones. However you choose to celebrate your Valentine’s, the RMG is a great way to go for the whole family.


Arthurs of the 4th

Photo by Brilynn Ferguson

The First Date

Start the morning off by surprising your date with a romantic brunch with a panoramic view. Checking out the gallery with your special someone is a great chance to strike up conversation, and ensure there is no first date awkwardness. Talking about art is also a great way to get to know one another whether you’ve been together for 20 years, or you are 20 minutes into your first date.

A great place to start is Holly King’s newest exhibition Edging Toward the Mysterious. This collection consists of various large-scale photographs of her constructed photographs of imagined landscapes. While enjoying the art together, present your loved one with a gift from the RMG Shop. Among the abundance of art catalogues and other popular titles, the RMG Shop has a wide selection of beautiful, locally sourced handmade items such as jewelry, specialty soaps, and teas. Whether the gift is for him or her, the RMG Shop is a great place to come looking for that one of a kind Valentine’s gift that will top off a fantastic date.


The 1,000th Date

Whether you and your partner are new to the gallery or not, there are plenty of reasons to make the RMG your Valentine’s destination this year.

After enjoying a delicious brunch in the Arthur’s on the 4th head directly downstairs to our most recent exhibition, The Other NFB. The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has long been acclaimed for documentary, animated and feature films, which are among Canada’s iconic cultural products and exports. But few Canadians know that during a pivotal period in the country’s history—the mid-twentieth century—the NFB also functioned as the country’s official photographer, which is where this series of photos stems from. This collection is sure to bring back some memories and spark conversation about times past, making it a Valentine’s day to remember.

Don’t forget to visit the shop and get something special for your special someone! Pick a gift together and get someone you will enjoy in your home, made by a local artisan.

As the afternoon comes to a close and you’ve enjoyed each and every exhibition, remember that your time here at the gallery doesn’t have to end on February 14th. Volunteering as a couple can be a great experience, offering bonding time while doing something great for the community.

#MuseumSelfieDay at the RMG

Wednesday January 20, 2016 was #MuseumSelfie Day and the RMG’s staff and guests got into it by snapping some pretty fabulous and creative photos in the gallery.


Carla Sinclair, Manager of Community and Volunteer Development, gets expressive with Rita Letendre.


Donna Raetsen-Kemp, CEO, gets up close and personal with Jock Macdonald.


Leslie Menagh, Manager of Public Programs and Art Reach, poses with work by Gallery A artist Janice McHaffie.

Staff from the Oshawa Public Library get a sweet selfie with a photo by Holly King.


Steve Dick, Manager of Protection Services, does his best Vanna White impersonation with our new banner.


Senior Curator Linda Jansma mimics a work by Michael Snow.


Sam Mogelonsky, Manager of Marketing and Communications, gets mysterious with a photo by Holly King.


Olinda Casimiro, Director of Finance and Administration, hanging out with Elvis by Tony Scherman.


Sonya Jones, Associate Curator, gets a bright idea from a Ray Mead drawing.


Curatorial volunteer Alessanra Cirelli, takes a selfie while framing.


Parvathi Bhat, Gallery Educator, poses with her favourite Jack Bush.


RMG enthusiast Cassy Goulding dropped by for this quick snap in the lobby.

RMG Fridays Turns Five!

The RMG is celebrating the 5th Anniversary of RMG Fridays in February, and we couldn’t be more excited! The gallery strives to bring together local talent and community, and after five #shwasome years, we are proud of all we have accomplished through these events!

RMG Fridays is a free event held on the first Friday of every month that combines live music, art and film from Oshawa, Durham Region and GTA artists. The RMG is passionate about its roots in Oshawa and the surrounding area, and we show this appreciation by bringing in a majority of our entertainment from the Durham Region. How much have we accomplished? In 2015, RMG Fridays welcomed 2593 guests, and 57% of them were new. We acquired 38 community sponsors, 25 bands and 15 exhibition tours. We think this is something definitely worth celebrating.

Next month on February 5th the RMG will be the place to be. Don’t to miss this party! The lineup of music is incredible, we’ll be screening an exciting film, and we have a few other tricks up our sleeve too. From our own backyard, Annie Sumi will be representing her hometown of Whitby with her indie-folk sound as she serenades the gallery with the first set of the night.

Annie Sumi

Following Annie is an exciting percussionist, Jamie Drake, who will be playing his tunes on a different kind of drum set. If you like the sound of that, you’ll want to stick around until the end when he bangs out a few more pieces for our moving art to dance to. No, the Painters Eleven pieces aren’t jumping off the wall to dance, but the O’Neill Senior Dance Ensemble, who will be performing throughout the night all over the gallery, will end the night with a performance featuring Jamie Drake.

Jamie Drake

The RMG has a couple more surprises in store for our big event. We’ve invited Museum Hack to the gallery! Museum Hack is a museum touring company that turns a regular tour into an unforgettable adventure! Described as “not your grandma’s museum tour”, these exciting tour guides will be taking five groups of 10 people each on an exciting trip around the RMG. Make sure to sign up for a tour as soon as you arrive; museum buffs and eccentric art lovers alike definitely won’t want to miss this adventure.

Museum Hack Tour Guides

While the gallery buzzes with music, dancing and art, we also have artist JR Hunter painting live with inspiration from the night’s festivities. Make sure to mark your calendars as RMG Night on February 5th from 7-10pm. There may be a few other surprises in store you won’t want to miss!

Interview with Kevin Alexander Hache, Co-Op Student

Kevin Alexander Hache is a Clarington Central Secondary student in his senior year. Joining the RMG team as a co-op student in the Education department, he spent most of his time providing in-studio support. In addition to Kevin’s eager disposition and great energy with the kids, we found that Kevin also had an amazing aptitude for 3D design. Keep reading to see what he accomplished!

Last fall I found myself without a co-op placement. This dilemma was quickly solved by going home after school and searching for places that connected with my interests.  I decided to approach The Robert McLaughlin Gallery because I am an artist in the high skills major program for technology at school.  After connecting with Jennifer Treleaven in the Education department, I had finally found a suitable co-op placement! I learned how to focus, develop a work ethic, manage timelines and incorporate my technology skills.

Working with RMG staff as a co-op student is thrilling. I feel capable to express my creativity to everyone freely. One day the opportunity to create a digital 3D model of the RMG building surfaced. It’s been over one year since I started 3D modeling. Using a free software called Blender, I designed a replica (to scale) of the gallery for staff to use when designing and planning exhibitions. (If you have an interest in CG (computer graphics), check out online. Voila! Your turn to learn.)

3D rendering

3D rendering of the RMG, Kevin Hache, 2016

The project was a very fun process overall and my skills developed as I worked on the piece. I needed to examine the entire gallery, measure every corner and develop techniques to make the job more efficient. My mind is like a matrix with this type of work. Creating things out of nothing is why I love art.  Like the architecture of this building, the creative process is so unique! I committed to the task never doubting my abilities and pulled off 4 models (meshes) of the space. I must say that this type of work makes me happy and provides a sense of accomplishment.

3D rendering

3D rendering of the RMG, Kevin Hache, 2016

Daily work at The Robert McLaughlin has really made me feel like I’m pointed in the right direction in life. The excitement of teaching kids how to paint or sculpt gave me a sense of leadership and responsibility.

3D rendering of the RMG, Kevin Hache, 2016

3D rendering of the RMG, Kevin Hache, 2016

I am grateful to Jennifer for letting me participate in this thriving community. I enjoy spending time with the team, and helping out with all the programs. I especially liked connecting with every one of the volunteers and employees, I see them all as great workers. I’m positive that other co-op students who have a creative mind will find the thrill and excitement in this placement.

– Kevin Alexander Hache, 2016


3D rendering of the RMG, Kevin Hache, 2016

Holly King at Core 21

The RMG is thrilled to present artist Holly King’s photograph Chalk Shoreline in the windows of Core21, a co-working space in downtown Oshawa. The artwork is in conjunction with the exhibition Holly King: Edging Towards the Mysterious and will be on view until Spring 2015.

This project is the first of a series of artworks in the windows of downtown businesses, and an on-going partnership with the RMG and Core21.

The RMG extends a special thank you to Media Sign for the beautiful vinyl printing and ongoing support.

Weekly Yoga in the Gallery

Was your New Year’s resolution to improve your health and see more art? Starting January 21, enjoy yoga in the gallery and expand your mind, body and creativity with weekly yoga practice in the Isabel McLaughlin Gallery, led by local yoga instructor and RMG Volunteer Meg Cox.

Join us for a six ­week session and grab a glimpse of the works on display while centering and relaxing the body and mind. Classes are suitable for all levels. Sessions will begin with introductory poses, mindfulness and breathing techniques. Make your health a convenient habit in 2016!

Meg Cox is based in Oshawa and an active volunteer at the RMG. Her classes are a light­hearted and welcoming environment. She enjoys teaching people who, like her, never thought yoga was something they could practice or enjoy. Cox initially started yoga to help strengthen her back from rowing injuries, but was captivated by the body ­accepting and nurturing nature of the practice. Now, with over 10 years of practice, her knees and back have strengthened and she has a kindness towards her body and life she never thought possible before.

Studying with a variety of teachers around the world, Meg completed her first teacher training in 2014 through the AyurYoga Eco­Ashram in Mysore, India. She has since completed trainings with Yogaworks Yin Yoga with David Kim and attended international yoga conferences with Kathryn Budig, Kia Miller, and Forrest Yoga teacher Sinhee Ye­McCabe.

Yoga in the Gallery with Instructor Meg Cox
Session 1: January 21 – February 25, 2016
Thursdays 5:30pm – 6:30pm

Full Session: Members $75  |  Non-Member $85
Drop ­In:  $15

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RMG Fridays Partnership with the Moustache Club

The RMG is thrilled the announce that The Moustache Club will be the official host of the “after party” for RMG Fridays!

Following the close of RMG Fridays at 10pm, we ask guests to head over The Moustache Club at 15 Simcoe Street North to enjoy more live music by local bands. Guests at RMG Fridays who present proof of attending the event will receive a discount on cover at the Club.

We’ll see you at The Moustache Club!