While Canada’s population is becoming increasingly urbanized, our roots are in the land. Long before the making of this nation, however, the First Nations people and Inuit relied upon it to provide for their needs both physically and spiritually; their relationship to the land continues to be far more about stewardship and respect than ownership. European explorers would ultimately of course, change how the land that is now called Canada, would be viewed.
Canada’s land is both vast and diverse, our geographies encompassing mountains, prairies, rivers and lakes (as William Lyon Mackenzie King wrote: “If some countries have too much history, we have too much geography.”). We experience the land in diverse ways, as well: hiking/biking/walking through it; traversing it by train/car/canoe or over it in planes. A more contemporary politician, Elizabeth May, notes; “If you have never taken the train across Canada, you really should put it on your life list… Meanwhile, I get to sit back and watch for moose from the dome car as we roll through the lake-dotted vastness of the boreal forest.”
We have “incorporated” the landscape by creating national and provincial parks, both wilderness and urban and have even made designated lookout points along travel routes so that the most noteworthy view is not missed. We “commune” with it by camping in it while, simultaneously, endanger it through environmentally suspect decisions at both micro and macro levels. Yet the land endures. We are defined by it, frustrated with it, and ultimately awed by it.
The Robert McLaughlin Gallery’s database keyword search for “landscape” lists over 700— from its collection of over 4,500—works. These works range in medium from drawings and prints to photographs and painting and span three centuries from 1860 to 2010 and from broad and grand views to intimate “portraits” of the land. Land, Sea & Air is a celebration of all that is the Canadian landscape and it is as diverse as the artists who depict it.