“The more isolated Emily felt from her family, the more she clung to the idea of painting. No doubt her sisters saw it as a mere hobby, a pastime. But Emily’s dream of becoming an artist was nurtured by the French painter C.A. de L’Aubinière and his English artist-wife, Georgina, who probably taught Emily briefly in 1886.
“She was in awe of them because they were the first ‘real’ artists she had met – but she was oddly disappointed when she saw their pictures. Their landscapes did not seem at all Canadian to her, though no one yet knew exactly what a ‘Canadian’ painting should look like. In the European tradition, landscapes were panoramas of peaceful meadows with the odd tree, a cow perhaps, beside a quiet stream. They didn’t look at all like the British Columbia Emily knew, where, just outside the city, endless acres of trees towered above an almost impenetrable undergrowth, and the cow was in her back yard.
“Nonetheless, the two Europeans sowed a seed that made Emily sling an old pair of shoes across her rafters. Now, every time she had a little money she pushed it into the shoes. She had a plan.”