Oil painting for Canada 150
I am Linglei Lu. I used to be a computer engineer in China. After retirement, my wife and I migrated to Toronto to help my daughter to take care of 3 children. Although the housework is very busy, I still try to squeeze time through the video to learn painting, in order to enrich my life.
Living in Toronto for 6 years, I have a deep feeling that Canada is a great country. Not only is the vast territory and abundant resources, the most important are her values, Justice, Equality, Freedom, Tolerance and form a harmonious society. So when I heard that Canada is prepared to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 and inviting all Canadians to take part in, I kept thinking, in this moment of great historical significance, what can I do for Canada?
I have read the history of Canada. In 1867 the federal establishment consists of several provinces of eastern Canada, a promise to British Columbia upon its entry into Confederation, must build a trans-Canada railway, making Canada a from the Atlantic to the Pacific (From sea to sea) vast country. Building a railway through the Rocky Mountains was a dangerous business, to this end, the Canadian Pacific Railway hired 17,000 Chinese workers. The land in this area was mountainous, making the work difficult and dangerous. The Chinese workers worked for $1.00 a day, and from this $1.00 the workers had to still pay for their food and their camping and cooking gear. White workers were paid more money ($1.50-$2.50 per day). The Chinese workers lived in camps, sleeping in tents or boxcars. They did their own cooking over open outdoor fires. With their low salaries they could not afford fresh fruit and vegetables, so many of the men suffered from scurvy (a painful disease caused by a diet without vitamin C). As well as being paid less, Chinese workers were given the most back-breaking and dangerous work to do. They cleared and graded the railway's roadbed. They blasted tunnels through the rock. There were accidents, fires and disasters. Landslides and dynamite blasts killed many. There was no proper medical care for them. Between 1881 and 1885, it is estimated that 4,000 Chinese workers died on the job or from disease! The completion of the national railway in 1885 transformed a colony into a country. The Chinese, however, were suddenly no longer welcome. A hefty "head tax" was slapped on Chinese immigrants until 1947.
Reading this history, I can’t calm the heart for a long time. So I got this idea, use oil painting to express the great historical moment, to cherish the memory of our ancestors, special Chinese workers.
I taught myself painting, first time to draw such as major history painting, its difficulty as can be imagined. But I was determined to try. From access to information, collection of pictures, composition, modification, after 15 months of hard work, I finally completed the 6 paintings:
The first work is describe the founding fathers were talking, fighting, planning for Canada today, they had a “Great dream” to build the great country from sea to sea through trans-Canada railway. The second one is describe the workers from various countries are laying the “Great iron road”. Another 4 works mainly describe the Chinese laborers in Rock Mountain, 500 kilometers of track to lay between Port Moody and Eagle Pass, the most difficult and dangerous business. The name of 4 works are “Cut mountain blasting”, “Holed tunnel”, “Wild living and dining” and “Memory forever”. The 6 works are all on canvas, 36x48in (91.4X121.9cm).
CBC covered me and reported my works in Dec 2016 (http://www.cbc.ca/1.3833212). It is a great encouragement to me. CBC reported it again in https://www.facebook.com/cbccanada2017 at 11am 18 May when 6 works have been completed.
I hope my works can help people to remember that great time, not only the founding fathers but also the contribution of common laborers, special the Chinese workers. They are all Canadian heroes.
These works will be donated. I am not sure the 6 paintings are good, but I do my best. I will continue to improve my drawing skill. I think Chinese laborer is still one of my painting themes, I hope to have more better works in the future.
AN APOLOGY WOULD BE NICE CHINESE-CANADIANS STILL AWAIT HEAD-TAX PAYOUT
Canadian Railroad Historical Association (CRHA)