Travel Reference
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inherited and inhabited, it is construed and constructed, as Vigneault
states in a parallel song: 'J'ai un pays à creuser à construire' (I have a
land to dig out, to construct). 8 And, for Vigneault, it is not only for his
song that he persists but also it is through his song, the ultimate cul-
tural place constructed within the vastness and sometime harshness of
French-Canadian space. 9
The Winterscape Tradition
Popularized by Cornelius Krieghoff, the winterscape heightens the
ever-present contrast between nature, uniformly blanketed in white
snow, and culture, usually in the form of settlements, as we have wit-
nessed in works ranging from Suzor-Coté's Après-midi d'avril , Cullen's
Près des Éboulements , and Morrice's Maison de ferme québécoise (chapter
five) to the illustrations by Suzor-Coté, Gagnon, and Lemieux for the
opening scene of Maria Chapdelaine (chapter six). In all cases, except
perhaps for that of Lemieux, 10 the cultural component, be it homestead
or church, has also been enhanced by the contrast, as is the case with
the winterscapes of other important French-Canadian painters.
Mabel May, for example, often considered a precursor of modernity, 11
painted her famous Flocons. Fenêtre de l'atelier in 1921 (figure 10.1).
The studio window, a metaphor for the artist's vision and the canvas
itself (as suggested by what appears to be the reflection of an easel),
allows May to juxtapose outer winter and inner warmth, much as in
Gabrielle Roy's 'loi du Nord' in La montagne secrète (chapter eight):
'l'immensité au-dehors, au-dedans l'exiguïté' (150; Immensity outside,
compactness within). The falling snowflakes turn to rain in contact
with the window pane in the foreground, which keeps them at bay, just
as the snow-covered roofs of the houses grouped together in the mid-
dle ground protect their homes from the rigours of winter weather. 12 In
the far ground, set against the white wintry sky to the east, the domed
building of the Congregation of Notre Dame looms at the centre of
Montreal's horizon, a reminder of the collective gathering of the French-
Canadian people and the importance of religion in their culture. 13 For
Charles Hill, 'décorative par l'agencement des toits, du dôme de
l'église, des branches et de la neige qui tombe, cette peinture rappelle
le style d'Albert Robinson, mais avec un traitement moins épuré et
plus explicite en surface' ( Le Groupe , 334; decorative by the arrange-
ment of the rooftops, the church dome, the branches and the falling
snow, this painting is reminiscent of Albert Robinson's style, but less
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