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Operation Lemon E-mail
Written by Michael LeBlanc   

One of Eric's ‘Russia Stories,’ 1954

It was seven o’clock one evening two years ago when I found myself talking to a companion in a room of the National Hotel in Moscow. My companion was Canada’s number one, two or three, painter, according to who is calling the mathematics. I am one of the fractions. He is 74 or 5; I am 46 or 7. He is a great artist. I am an artist. Both of these statements are my own, and while I believe they are true I can supply a respectable army of dissenters culled from the rancours of contemporaries. They may be right. I have no way of knowing because I am not dead yet...

...For a reasonable period we “got along famously”, partly because he realised we were both foreigners to the Russians, and partly because in those rare moments when he listened to my views he toyed with the idea that I might possibly be human. Our communication was considerably eased by the fact that I believe all artists are basically human, and I am willing to fight for this belief. Which is one reason why artists do not approve of me...

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Whiterock E-mail
Written by Michael LeBlanc   
Camping, Watercolour on card, 26.4 x 32.4 cm :: Collection of Francis Chapman
Almost immediately after arriving back in Toronto after his war work, Eric set out on a canoe trip in the northern Ontario wilderness. He began to plan this trip during his last months overseas, and his starting point was Whiterock Lake, in what is now Killarney Wilderness Area. Fall was the prime season for sketching and painting: the bright foliage, moderate temperatures, lower angle of the sun, and lack of black flies or mosquitoes made this season, above others, the ideal one for artistic appreciation.

Franklin had introduced in Eric a love for this area, and his return became a daydream for him during the grim, grey days of the war. Harry Somers had just been discharged from the service, and as neither was engaged in more profitable work, they went together. It became for both men an intense and life-enriching experience.

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A Visit to the Leningrad Academy of Arts Institute E-mail
Written by Michael LeBlanc   
Ice Cream Vendor, Moscow :: Collection of Margaret Bridgman
At the height of the cold war “Red Scare,” in 1954, Eric went with a small Canadian arts group to tour the USSR, sponsored by the Canadian Soviet Friendship Society. The Society announced that they would fund a tour of the USSR for 14 Canadian painters, architects, musicians, actors and dancers. Despite the wide promotion for the trip, only 6 Canadians boarded the plane for the USSR: artist Eric and Group of Seven artist Frederick Varley with four francophones: Michelain LeGendre, puppeteer and marionettist; Charles Lemoine, poet and radio critic; and Mr. and Mrs. Pierre St. Germain, a newspaper writer (his wife was a social worker). The entourage included no musicians, architects, or ballet dancers as was previously advertised. “It was enough to make me uneasy, but because Mr. Varley persisted, I persisted, and so we found ourselves with this mixed group who did not know each other,” wrote Eric later. Add a comment
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Buy the Book

Nothing Uninteresting book cover

Now available at Blurb.com.

Nothing Uninteresting

The Work and Life of Eric Aldwinckle

By Michael B. LeBlanc

Print Book, 186 Pages

CAD$36.67

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... Oh by the way after telling you about the Arts and Letters Club annual bill I did receive a parcel from them. It was funny. Everything was saturated with peppermint tooth powder from a broken box. So everything tasted of pepsodent. However I wrote and thanked them and in wishing them a Happy New Year hoped they would all die a “natural” death. I wonder if they will see eye to eye with my sense of humour.

-Eric Aldwinckle, on receiving messages from friends during the war