Famous Canadian portraits will make you take a Double Take

Nov 22, 2012 | News

McMichael Canadian Art Collection features an exhibit that includes a collection of portraits of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau as the subject. PHOTO BY BRIAR HOPLEY

By Briar Hopley and Matthew Smith

The federal Government wants Canadians to take a walk alongside some of the most influential people that have left their mark on the country.

Famous Canadians from the past and present are being showcased through different mediums of art at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ont.

“Double Take: Portraits of Intriguing Canadians” showcases 100 works of 50 influential Canadians spanning four centuries from explorer Jacques Cartier to the first prime minister, John A. Macdonald, to environmental activist, David Suzuki.

“It’s a really interesting show and a rare opportunity to see some paintings, photographs, drawings that have changed Canada and changed how we think about ourselves,” said Stephen Weir, communicator and publicist for the McMichael Gallery for 17 years.

The exhibit was put together by Library and Archives Canada.

“The goal is not to make money, it’s to make people aware of what you have here. This is really an altruistic exhibition . . . the Canadian Archive wants Canadians to see what they own, because all of these images are owned by the people of Canada.”

The images on display are the most influential in the federal family album.

“What they did was go through the collection and try to pick images of Canadians that have made a difference and things that depending on your age will resonate.”

A nude photograph of the country’s first female prime minister, Kim Campbell, for example, received more attention than she may have anticipated at the time. The photograph features Campbell holding up a judicial robe in front of her, revealing bare shoulders.

“This was a very shocking picture at the time, and now 22 years later it’s not. But it redefined the Progressive Conservative Party; it also redefined how we viewed prime ministers. She didn’t win the re-election and was only prime minister for a very brief moment in time.”

Not all of the portraits are as well known.

“When I looked around here I was surprised about how many I actually did not know,” said Lynn Talbot, a guide for the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. “So I guess it’s teaching us, it’s teaching the children and teaching us as adults some of the Canadians that we forget.”

“I think a lot of the time we know more about the United States because of the news and what we see. So this is bringing to light famous Canadians,” she said.

The exhibit closes Jan. 6.  For more information visit McMichael Canadian Art Collection

Take a walk with Publicist, Stephen Weir as he explains a few of the pieces featured in the Double Take exhibit.