Doris McCarthy, Storyteller – Sharing the Joy

Late Light and Pyramid Mountains, 1982, Doris Jean McCarthy

Iceberg With Icicles, 2000, Doris Jean McCarthy

Trees at Georgian Bay, 1938, Doris Jean McCarthy

In August of 2015, thanks to Doris McCarthy and Ontario Heritage Trust, I got to be the first writer-in-residence for the entire month at Fool’s Paradise, former home of iconic Canadian artist, Doris McCarthy. During that month, living in the space she’d so lovingly crafted over her lifetime, I became fascinated with all things Doris, and set about writing her story for young readers. She was a woman ahead of her time in so many ways, determined to succeed in what was largely a man’s world in the 1930s and 1940s. For Doris, nothing was impossible, and anything was possible. Alongside a 40-year teaching career, she spent her life creating 6,000 works of art, telling Canada’s story, sharing her joy and love for life and the wild.

This past November, I was asked to present at a McCarthy Symposium hosted by the McCarthy Gallery, University of Toronto, Scarborough. I worked for weeks putting together a PowerPoint presentation to go along with my lyrical version of Doris’s life story. Along with the other eleven presenters, I was happy to meet some of the significant people in Doris’s life, including her long-time agent, Lynn Wynick, and two daughters of Doris’s dearest friend, Marjorie Beer Woods. At the end of the symposium, the five of us who had been artists-in-residence at Fool’s Paradise had a panel discussion about living in that magical space, which was super interesting; all of us felt Doris’s spirit which is still strongly present in her home.

There are painfully few books for young readers on the subject of Canadian artists, especially female Canadian artists. So far, I haven’t found a publisher willing to take on the project, but, like Doris, I’m determined, and will continue reworking the manuscript, and revisiting her life, until somebody says yes.  Wish me luck!

  6 comments for “Doris McCarthy, Storyteller – Sharing the Joy

  1. January 6, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    My writerly ears delight at the thought you can now say you lived at Fool’s Paradise 🙂

    • January 23, 2019 at 7:44 pm

      I know – isn’t that a great name for a house? Doris got the name from her own mother scoffing at her young unmarried daughter buying 12 acres (“that fool’s paradise of yours) on her own (in the 1930s).

  2. January 20, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Sounds like a great project and I do hope you find a publisher. Young people need to read books about strong, determined women.

    • January 23, 2019 at 7:43 pm

      Agreed! Still waiting to hear back from one editor… Meanwhile, I’m obsessed with illustrating lately! So much fun!

  3. February 16, 2019 at 9:38 pm

    Enjoyed all three of your posts about your stay at Fool’s Paradise, your manuscript (hope you’ve found a publisher for it!) and Doris McCarthy. First read them via my e-mail, and glad to have done so a second time via WordPress Reader!

  4. February 18, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Thanks, Peggy. Nope, no publisher – yet. Waiting to hear from one editor before starting to beat the bushes:)

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