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Ernie Taylor left behind a legacy of art


ERNEST TAYLOR WAS A GREAT ARTIST:Did you attend CCI in its present location? If so, do you recall the mural in the cafeteria and do you know who the artist was?

If not, you should have been at the March meeting of the Collingwood & District Historical Society. Ron MacRae, also an artist, interviewed Ernest Taylor shortly before the latter passed away in 1999.

The Taylors came to Collingwood from California when Ernest was about five years old They lived at the end of Long Point Road, west of town.

Ernest and his younger brother, John, went to school in Collingwood, including CCI. In appearance and temperament, they were as different as night and day.

Ernest delighted in the beauty and wonders of life, while John was more practical.

Their mother was also an artist, and Ernest inherited this talent. Not only did he paint murals and nature scenes, but he was a prolific portrait artist, and also a lover of history.

He studied art in New York and Toronto and later on, taught art in North Bay for 10 years.

At Balm Beach, he became acquainted with the Group of Seven. Indeed, in Toronto, he shared a studio with Frederick Varley, and, after marriage, named one of his sons Varley.

Ernest has a love of Georgian Bay. you might say its "quiet and angry moods" were reflected in his work.

An oil painting of the bay, with a streak of lightning from the swirling clouds, is a good example.

Yet his portraits of women were often angelic.

Contrasting dark and bright colours was his way of expressing his ideas.

While in Toronto, he showed his expertise with stained glass.

In October 1997, some members of Trinity United Church here visited the church's head office at 3250 Bloor St. W., in Etobicoke. It had been at 85 St. Clair Ave. E in Toronto; however, that building was sold in 1994, and the Etobicoke quarters were rented.

In the St. Clair chapel were stained glass windows designed by Ernest Taylor of Collingwood!

Since the new office was rented, the windows couldn't be installed. Instead, they were placed back-to-back, forming a free-standing mural wall 20 feet high (Enterprise-Bulletin,Oct. 18, 97).

TRAGEDY STRIKES:In the late 1960s, Ernest returned to Collingwood. Coming home late one evening in 1962, he decided to make himself a cup of tea before going to bed. His pregnant wife and the six children were already in bed and asleep in another part of the house, a building lighted by oil lamps and heated by wood stoves.

As he waited for the kettle to boil, so the story goes, he fell asleep. Somehow the lamp on the table fell over and set a fire. Ernest couldn't get to his family, so they all perished and he spent some time in hospital recovering from his burns.

After his work in North Bay, Ernest returned to Collingwood. In 1997 he bought a farm and a boat in Meaford. The boat became damaged and he had to sell the farm to repair it. The boat became his home.

Like everyone else, Ernest Taylor had his faults, but--as stated in the booklet, Enduring Spirits, by Ron MacRae and Marika Hanych--he was "a man who embraced life with great passion."

Ernest's name is on the monument with those of the family, in the Trinity United Church cemetery.

Annual reports were also given at the society's March meeting. We will share their highlights with you next time.

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