Canadian Folk Art Outdoors

The Private Backyard Garden

The backyard is generally reserved for family and close friends, and folk art placed here shows much less of a performance element than that put in full view of the street. Objects chosen for this area might represent revered past professions or instil a quiet contemplation of nature.

Here, the gardening reflects the pure, personal tastes of the owner, which may not be reflected in the more formal, showy arrangements of the front yard. In the privacy of the backyard, herbs can mingle with favourite flowers, and even vegetables, for the owner's table. Here, too, the family can sit unobserved by passers-by on the street.

Bird House - Photo: H. Foster Fernando's Hideaway Bird House
Made by Schoolboys
Norway House, Manitoba
Ca. 1970
CCFCS 70-203

This house has all that the most discerning bird could ask for: a hairpin banister, a sardine-can stoop, painted garbage cans - even a glued-on rock garden. To be fully appreciated, it requires close inspection. Its name is a corruption of "Hernando's Hideaway," a song title from the Broadway musical Pajama Game.

Ron Barber
Orono, Ontario
CCFCS 80-93
Owl - Photo: H. Foster

This sculpture may have been made partially with a chain-saw.

Red-Winged Blackbird - CD95-505-080 - S95-11471 Red-Winged Blackbird
Maker unknown; attributed to M. Bérubé
Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec
Late 1960s
CCFCS 77-528

Its familiar song makes the red-winged blackbird a favourite summer visitor.

"Bellodgin" the Skunk
Maker unknown
20th century
CCFCS 77-956
Nettie Sharpe Collection
Skunk - Photo: H. Foster

This outdoor skunk is in fact made from heavily painted papier mâché, possibly mixed with sawdust.

Her colourful name was given her by Mrs. Sharpe, who recalled a favourite perfume made by the Caron company in the 1920s and named after a town on the shores of Italy's Lake Como.

The affectionate naming of pieces such as Bellodgin, Clem or Ti-Gus is a result of the effect some of these wonderful pieces have on their makers, owners or collectors. Something that is exceptionally pleasing deserves the recognition that comes with a name.


This Other Eden
Canadian Folk Art Outdoors


The Front Lawn | The Barnyard | The Porch | Rooftops | Woods | The Pond | The Venus Corner | Fantasy | O Canada | Fence Posts | The Private Backyard Garden | Contemporary "Faux" Folk Art