Adrienne Clarkson, the Governor General of Canada
visited my historic hometown of Port Au Choix in the summer of 2002.
The local council presented her with a piece of my folkart at the town
hall gathering. She questioned as to who and where the local artist was
and made the point of wanting to meet him before she left town.
I was working in-studio that day when the phone rang.
It was the security guys for the Governor General informing me she
wanted to meet me. They would have to come by first to check out the
place. I told them yes, I would make time to see Adrienne. They said
they would be right over.
Within a few minutes, a great big black shiny car
pulled into the parking lot. Out stepped two big tall men dressed in
black and wearing ties. They checked out ‘my spot' inside and out and
said it was OK.
Shortly thereafter, the Governor General showed up in
another black shiny car. We all lined up, as told, in a straight
crooked line in the small parking lot to greet her. I shook her hand
and the hands of her party and invited the whole lot of them into my
studio. They didn't have much time, not even enough to visit my newly
opened Museum of Whales & Things.
My memory of the In-studio visit is as follows:
I struck up a conversation with her husband, and went
on to tell him that I felt the novel “The Shipping News” by Annie
Proulx and the subsequent movie follow-up would benefit our tourism
He spoke back to me in a loud, strong voice,
saying he despised “The Shipping News” bla bla bla. I think he felt it
was degrading and demoralizing in the way that Newfoundlanders were
portrayed in the novel and movie. I quickly ended our conversation and
met Adrienne at the check-out. She purchased a few small odd things,
most notably a pair of double knit woolen sealer mitts that sold for
$28 plus H.S.T.
We all shook hands again and Adrienne promised me
she would find a nice wall at Rideau Hall to hang my picture. She was a
real nice lady. Out the door they all went and I went back to work.
She wrote several weeks later upon returning to
Ottawa . She also added my name to her mail-out list. Now every
Christmas I get a Xerox signed Christmas card from the Governor General
printed on recycled paper.