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Park bench will honour local painter

Gordon Dufoe is best known as Mattawa’s master painter, in spite of not having had the privilege of any formal training.

Written by: Jennifer Dufoe, the granddaughter of the late Mattawa painter, Gordon Dufoe.

Tomorrow, on Sunday September 11th, a ceremony will be held at Gordon Dufoe Park in Mattawa, to celebrate a new dedication sign, and a Dufoe family dedication bench.  The new sign and dedication bench are the result of a GoFundMe campaign I started in January of this year with the full support of the Mattawa Town Council, who shared my vision to honour my late grandfather, Gordon Dufoe, with a reinvigoration of the beautiful park named after him. 

Gordon is best known as Mattawa’s master painter, in spite of not having had the privilege of any formal training. He was born near the end of the 19th century in Mattawa and spent most of his life in the area where he became known for his realistic art depicting its forests, river scenery, and wildlife. In spite of his immense talent, Gordon never sought to make a living from his work, but rather he would say, “When I have to start talking dollars to people it takes the fun out of painting”. He was known for either giving his paintings away or charging very little for them. He was also known to throw his paintings away, or he would not sign them if he was unsatisfied with his work.

Gordon served in World War I where he was often taken from the lines and given orders to sketch cathedrals, historic buildings, and other locations in the event that these buildings were destroyed. But Gordon was much more than a talented artist; he had a fascination with cameras and made several of them; he also had an interest in astronomy and made his own telescope; his interest in radios also resulted in the building of several of his own. Gordon also wrote a book in the mid-30’s about his experiences in the woods, which was published in 1993 and titled ‘Canadian Animals I have Known’. As well, Gordon was a loving and dedicated family man who spent over 50 years with his wife Irene Leclaire. They had seven sons and two daughters, of which only one daughter and two sons are still with us.

My idea to have a new sign and dedication bench made for the park was inspired by my father, Donald Dufoe.

He was dying of cancer and I became overcome with a desire to reinvigorate his father’s park before he passed away. If it had not been for the assistance of Mattawa Councilor Dexture Sarrazin, and Recreation Director, Jacques Begin, this project would not have been realized. I am also very grateful to Paul Swindle who built a custom sign frame that perfectly suits the new sign and the park setting, and will last for years to come. Also thanks to See More Graphics for their advice, design and producing the sign itself. And last, but not least, the park would not look as beautiful as it does without the Parks and Recreation staff who worked ever so diligently to install the new sign and dedication bench.

Unfortunately, my father passed away on June 10th and did not have the opportunity to see the completed sign or dedication bench.

This will make the ceremony bittersweet, but I am proud to dedicate this project to Gordon Dufoe, his wife Irene Leclaire, and their children, Frank, Stella, Bruce, Alverna, Albert, Norman, Alvin, Ernest, and especially my father, Donald.

Please join us on Sunday September 11th, from 1 to 2 p.m. to celebrate the new sign and to remember my grandfather, a truly great and inspiring man. If you are unable to join us on September 11th, then I encourage you to take some time to visit this beautiful gem on the Mattawa River, where you can take in the stunning view from the beautiful new dedication benches, or newly installed picnic tables.