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Happy Family Day  (and a Happy President’s Day to my American friends!)

I hope everyone enjoyed their much needed long weekend. I so appreciated this relatively new holiday (at least to Ontario) not only because it gives us a welcome repose in the  gruelling end of the harshness of our Canadian winter but it also serves as a great excuse to reconnect with your family and maybe do something fun together.

Our little family used this day to get more use out of our family membership to the Art Gallery of Ontario (or as its better known, AGO) and thankfully the Toronto landmark was open today to accommodate the throngs of families looking to do the same.

Daddy & The Mouse enjoying Henry Moore's sculptural art (before I was scolded for taking pictures in the collection!)

We enjoyed the splendour of the Maharaja exhibit , revelled in my favourite Group of Seven works, lingering lovingly over the Lawrence S. Harris paintings and enjoyed the up close view of my favourite artist`s paintings by Norval Morriseau, in the Galleria on the second floor. Emmerson loved the expansive showings of the organic abstract Henry Moore sculptures and my husband loved Giuseppe Penone’s “The Hidden Life Within” wood-based artwork that seemed to just appear in the material like it grew there.

Of course, being me, I had to pay a visit to the gift shop, which always introduces me to new and novel items and as they have a “Canadian Author/Illustrator” children’s book section, I think I could easily spend hours in there.

So joyful about our entire excursion (starting with the non-existent traffic into the city), I not only left feeling inspired, I also left with a fabulous new book.

Canada Counts: A Charles Pachter Counting Book by Charles Patcher (ISBN: 978189715125, Cormorant Books, 2009) seemed like a steal for under twenty dollars.

Images Copyright@2009 Charles Patcher

To be frank, I felt like I got away with a prized piece of art from the collection when I left making it more than the cold that caused me to quicken my pace and propel my family along to the car.

This art inspired counting book includes the iconic images that Pacther is known for: moose, caribou, flags, leafs and canoes and includes Nanaimo bars, judges, explorers, sign language and even the Fathers of Confederation.

Part art book, part educational book and part eclectic masterpiece, this gem is so gorgeous and unique you can’t help but feel inspired every time you crack open the cover. A perfect companion to the award-winning M is for Moose; I think both of these books should be on the shelf of every creative parent and every complete Canadian kid lit collection.

I love that this book also includes information on the Group of Seven artists,  pieces of Canadian history and recipes for Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie and Nanaimo Bars (which I will certainly have to try!)

Patcher is one of Canada’s leading contemporary artists and is a painter, printmaker, sculptor, designer, historian and lecturer. He has studied at the University of Toronto, the Sorbonne and the Cranbook Academy of Art. He also has an honorary doctorate from Brock University, is a member of the Order of Canada, and a Chevalier of France’s Ordre des Arts et des Letters (in other words he’s the real deal peeps!)

He’s also been quoted as saying : “That I’ve spent my lifetime making Canada look cool and wonderful.” How can I not worship this man?

One of Charles Patcher's iconic works

He’s like the Canadian Andy Warhol (but way less wierd), as his images of the queen, moose, maple leaf and his hockey murals are pop icons and his work hangs in public and private collections all over our fair nation and around the world.

I love that Patcher as famous and decorated as he is still lives in downtown Toronto, where he was born and raised, just minutes away from where I bought his divine book.  Check out more about him and his celebrated work on his website.

Patcher posing outside his Grange Avenue home/studio/gallery The Moose Factory

Sure, I am biased but I find little more euphoric than a glorious picture book by one of my favourite Canadian artists. It’s like a win-win situation for all: I get to take in gorgeous art while reading to my little Mouse plus I get a tiny thrill knowing that her growing neurons are processing all the finest creative images at such a young age.

I make no secret of the fact I would love my children to enjoy the artistic side of life just as my better half makes no bones about the fact he wants our kids to understand and adore hockey.  It`s just the way it is.

If you have a slant for the aesthetic or just want to ensure your kids are well-versed in modern Canadian art (and can count of course) then buy this book. This would also make lovely and a cultured baby shower gift!

Sigh –every weekend should be a long one!



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