Lifestyles&Leisure

Old, old, old growth on the ‘to do’ list for a long time

By Gord Henschel, North Island Eagle, Jan. 22 2021

This painting is one of my latest, but has been on my “To Do” list for some time with a number of old pencil sketches started but not carried along to my palette. I’ve done many interior forest scenes, enjoyed doing them, especially in summer, when it was cool in their hideaway atmosphere. They have all attracted me in different ways, challenging me to put their special mood down in paint. 

This one was very, very different for various reasons: firstly it is close to my Nimpkish Heights home and studio and secondly, whenever I went down there, as I have many times, I felt a presence that was both peaceful but uneasy; always feeling like I was intruding on ancient ground; after all this was the estuary of the Nimpkish River. 

The whole bay is part of the estuary, lined with lofty spruce, hemlock and cedar giants that have retained a forest dignity in spite of the remains of massive stumps; one of which is in the forefront of this painting. I knew I was on Namgis property, this estuary having been their home before moving to Cormorant Island, but the bay had been used by locals for years.

We used to call this Hanuse Beach, named after the family that used it as a base for logging the Nimpkish Valley, quite unaware that there had been a First Nation’s settlement called XWalkW here for centuries beside the Nimpkish River they called Gwani. Captain George Vancouver encountered them in 1792 but they were probably here long before that. About a hundred years later they began doing some logging. Later Dan Hanuse got the logging rights and continued, big time, for years up the Nimpkish Valley. 

Artwork by Gordon Henschel

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