Canadian Folk Art Outdoors

The Pond

Almost every Canadian garden has, or could benefit from, what landscape architects call "a water element." How many home-owners wish their house was located beside a stream, or overlooking a pond or lake!

In the belief that even the suggestion of water will beautify and attract wildlife to our property, we build well houses (working or not), ponds, fountains, swimming pools and even hot tubs to enhance our surroundings.

Such intrigue with the sound and sight of water is universal, and a body of water represents the perfect canvas for the outdoor folk artist. Here we will find the water-bird statuary, the decoys (which have now become purely decorative) and other tangible expressions of this fascination with water.

Two Herons - Photo: H. Foster Two Herons
Maker unknown
Fonthill, Ontario
Ca. 1875
CCFCS 78-267, 78-268

These two lovely birds began life as heron decoys. When heron hunting was outlawed in the 1870s, the birds were retired but, luckily, not discarded. After a well-deserved rest, the pair moved on to become lawn ornaments in the 1920s. In their third reincarnation as museum artifacts, they reflect an age that has gone forever.

Rosaire Leblanc
Sainte-Sophie-de-Lévrard, Quebec
Ca. 1960
CCFCS 76-473
Ti-Gus - Photo: H. Foster

Ti-Gus, named after a member of a famous radio comedy team, was placed on a tiny island in the middle of M. Leblanc's farm pond, to entertain his grandchildren. Ti-Gus (a nickname from Petit Gustave) had his own tiny Eden on the island, including a home (where he lived in the winter) that matched his diminutive size.

His strange, foreshortened legs add mystery to the figure, but make him absolutely distinctive. This aspect, combined with the delightful carved hat and a sly smile make Ti-Gus unforgettable.

Merganser / Goose - Photo: H. Foster Red-Breasted Merganser Decoy
Maker unknown
Maritime Provinces
Ca. 1935
CCFCS 83-1417
Guyette Collection
Feeding Goose
Ernest L. Goodwin
Maritime Provinces
Ca. 1935
CCFCS 83-1294
Guyette Collection

This merganser hen is made from two separate pieces; the head is pegged into the body. This species of merganser is more likely to be found in ocean waters, hence its probable origin and use in the Maritimes.

An ingenious decoy (Feeding Goose) - the outstretched neck apparently disappears under water, eliminating the need to carve a head. What better or more comforting lure for geese flying overhead than to see one of their own placidly feeding?

Portly Frog
Maker unknown
20th century
CCFCS 81-136
Frog - Photo: H. Foster


This Other Eden
Canadian Folk Art Outdoors


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