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Copyright Alastair Reid Barnett 2013

Family of Artists
The Legacy of Samuel and Margaret Maclure. By Alastair R. Barnett Those who cherish a beautiful vision, a lofty ideal in their hearts, will one day realize it. James Allen

Disguised as an old lady in bonnet and shawl, with wrinkles penciled on her face, the young
girl headed to the Victoria dock. Mingling with the other passengers waiting to board the SS Charmer, she spotted her stepbrother feverishly scanning the crowd, hoping to intercept her. Affecting a limp, Daisy Simpson shuffled past him onto the boat and sailed off to Vancouver to rendezvous with her beloved Samuel Maclure.

argaret Daisy Simpson and Samuel Maclure first set eyes on each other in 1888, at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Victoria, where Simpsons stepfather, the Reverend Patrick Macleod, was assistant pastor. It was said that the pair fell in love almost

immediately. Discovering that Simpson had a natural talent for painting, Maclure offered to give her lessons, enabling the pair to meet regularly. In time, Maclure sought the Macleods permission to marry their daughter. They refused: Maclure was 10 years older than Daisy, he had no apparent means of support other than the odd telegraph-operating job. Devastated, Maclure and Simpson decided to elope a difficult decision for a ministers daughter brought up to model appropriate behavior. Maclure left for Vancouver: Simpson was to join him there. Because the strong willed Simpson had continually affirmed her intention to marry Maclure one day, suspicions were raised when, two days after he had left, she was absent from the dinner table. Her stepbrother was hastily dispatched to search for her at the boat dock. When he arrived, the passengers were already boarding. He took no notice of the wrinkled old lady dressed in black who hobbled past him, leaning on a cane. From the corner of her eye, Simpson saw him frantically searching the crowd and stifled a laugh. Maclure and Simpson were married in Vancouver in 1890, at the home of his sister, Sara. They honeymooned at the Maclure family home, Hazelbrae, at Matsqui Prairie, spending many happy days canoeing on the Fraser River in the Chilliwack area. And thus began their life together. From an early age, Maclure had showed exceptional artistic inclinations. In 1884, at age 24, he had headed for the Spring Garden Institute in Philadelphia to study drawing. It was there, and while visiting New York, that he found his lifes work: He was so impacted by the eastern cities structures that he proceeded to teach himself the rudiments of architecture. He continued his studies when he returned to B.C., supporting himself as a telegraph operator at the E&N Railroad. Now, with the responsibility of a wife and the need to prove to her parents that he could support their daughter, Maclure had an important career decision to make: continue as a telegraph operator, or follow the more difficult path toward his dream of becoming an architect. He chose the latter, and in 1890 an advertisement appeared in the New Westminster newspaper announcing the firm of Clow & Maclure. Not only did Samuel Maclure become one of B.Cs greatest watercolour sketch artists of the time, but he also emerged as British Columbias most gifted and sought-after architects. At the beginning of the 1900's, when the cream of Vancouver and Victoria society anticipated building a new residence, they invariably summoned Maclure to provide the necessary touch of old-world elegance to their Tudor-style homes. Maclures accomplishments are legendary, and have been well documented since his death in 1929. Throughout the Lower Mainland and Victoria, many Maclure mansions remain as monuments to his talent, including the outstanding Hatley Park Castle at Royal Roads. Less has been said however, of Margarets contribution to the arts, although she was a skilled portrait artist. She especially liked painting the local Native people, with whom shed been fascinated since she first arrived in B.C. in 1887. Once secure in her marriage, Daisy felt more comfortable expressing her

interest. She seemed to understand the Native people, and she learned to speak some Chinook. When they went from door to door, offering fish and berries and beautifully hand-woven baskets for sale, Margaret ignored the unyielding conventions of the Victorian era and invited them indoors for tea and cookies. Before long, shed persuaded many of them to allow her to paint their portraits. Occasionally she visited and painted them on their reservations. Today, her paintings are hard to come by; two are on permanent exhibition at Londons Kensington Gallery, two are in the Victoria archives, and the remainder is in private collections. Painting was not Margarets only talent: She was also one of Victorias most gifted pianists, and while attending social gatherings she would frequently be invited to play. The Maclures had three daughters, Cathy, Bobbie and Kitty. Curiously, Samuel did everything he could to discourage this daughters from marrying. Cathy and Kitty remained spinsters. Bobbie, however, apparently inherited her mothers willfulness; despite her fathers pleadings, she chose to marry, producing the Maclures only grandchild Doria. Doria Biart, who lives in Victoria, has fond memories of her grandparents, particularly her grandmother. I remember as a young girl, when I would stay overnight at my grandparents home, lying in bed watching the firelight flickering on the ceiling, and listening to my grandmother play her favorites, Chopin and Rachmaninoff, until I fell asleep. The Maclures left a legacy of more than art and architecture; Dorias children, Kim and Christopher, have been liberally endowed with their great-grandparents artistic talents. I meet with artist Christopher Mills aboard his sailboat, Emma, at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. He recounts memories of growing up surrounded by art and the nurturing legacy passed on by his famed ancestors. I would frequently visit my two great-aunts, Cathy and Kitty, at the old, rambling Parrot House on Burdett Street, He says. To a small boy, wandering into the place, the entrance hall bathed in blue light shimmering through high stained-glass windows, and the upstairs apartments filled with antiques and walls covered with paintings mostly painted by my great-grandparents...It was intriguing and sometimes overwhelming. Christophers artistic career was conceived when he took an art class at Shawinigan Lake School in order to avoid Latin. Escaping into the woods and painting pictures and smoking cigarettes was the basic operation, he says. Happily, however, a very good art teacher, R.I. Smith a tough Scot recognized I had some talent, and encouraged me to enroll in art school. Christopher inherited his talent not only from his great-grandparents, but from his naval officer father, James G. Mills, who, after leaving the navy, spent months drawing fishing flies to illustrate Anthony Bristows fly-fishing book, Fresh Water Fishing.

An avid sailor, Christophers experience with boats started early. I was hauled down to the Royal Victoria Yacht Club at age nine and installed in their excellent sailing program. When I was 13, the family bought a sailboat, and Mother and I, along with my sister Kim would take off as soon as school was out and sail around the Gulf Islands for two months. While Christophers gift has fulfilled his dream of becoming an artist living on a boat, Kims talents have manifested in a surprising way: She makes icons in a monastery in Jerusalem. Christopher recalls receiving a change-of-address notice from Kim, who had been living in Alberta. Her new address was, Monastere Benedictin, Jerusalem. She had converted to Catholicism and become a nun, he says. I laughed for a week. Unknown to the family, shed been making contact with the Benedictines for years. When I think of it, he adds pensively, I would visit her room when she was very young, and often she would be molding clay figurines of monks and nuns. I never dreamed that was a prognostication of what was to come. I contact Kim, now known as Sister Michaela, in Jerusalem to ask how her familys artistic ability influenced her art work. I was much more sensitive to a love of music, and sang in choirs throughout my childhood, she says. Perhaps I felt somewhat overawed by the talents of my great-grandparents, and so backed off from any effort in the same direction myself at the time. But Kim did find her niche in the art world. The first real inkling I had that I might be able to express myself with a pencil and paintbrush came when I was a nurse in a pediatric ICU in Montreal, she says. It was Christmas, and we didnt have any decorations. I was asked to create something with a roll of paper from the examining tables, a box of poster paints and a childrens Bible, so I set to work and designed Winnie the Pooh, Donald Duck and company, bringing gifts to the Christ Child; the roll went right around the room over the childrens beds. It was only after shed arrived at the Benedictine monastery and was well into her 30's that she heard of an iconography course in Jerusalem. Though the course was apparently designed for those with quite a bit of experience, she says, I dared to show up and was accepted. These days, Kim says her time at the monastery is taken up almost entirely with filling orders, as her icons become better known. One of the main ways the monastery survives is by selling its wares. The monks make pottery, and the nuns weave carpets and such. But considering the hours put in, they make very little money at it. But I know my sisters work brings in serious money for the monastery, Christopher says proudly. She inherited our great-grandmothers musical gift as well, and plays the guitar, and the zither. The real family closeness this work has allowed had been with my brother, Kim says. Although our lives have taken different directions, we have, in our mutual love of beauty, colour

and creativity, and the irresistible desire to express the inexpressible, discovered a kind of meeting place where we recognize each other for who we are. Long-time resident of Victoria, Alastair Reid Barnett retired from the restaurant business in 1994, and has since pursued his passion for writing. He writes articles for North American and UK. publications and has recently undertaken to write promotional material for small business. Note: Doria Biart, Samuel and Margaret Maclures only grandchild passed away in Victoria, BC. in 2013. Acknowledgements: My thanks to the Maclure family for access to family documents and photographs and their generous co-operation in the writing of this story. ARB.