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This exhibition was originally on display at the Douglas Family Art Centre in Kenora, ON in the spring of 2021. Due to COVID-19 related closures, the exhibition was unfortunately cut short. In order to allow more people to enjoy the show, our staff decided to create a video tour of the exhibition. We hope you enjoy our virtual tour of Maud Lewis.

Writer/Presenter: Sophie Lavoie, Art Centre Curator
Video Production/Editing: Shelby Smith, Art Centre Programmer

If you enjoyed this virtual tour and would like to support us in creating more content like this, consider becoming a MUSE member or making a tax-deductible donation.



Canada’s most beloved folk artist, Maud Lewis (1903–1970) has captured the hearts of many with her dazzling depictions of rural Nova Scotia. Her paintings describe a way of life in the Maritimes that was rapidly changing, as the horse and buggy gave way to the automobileand small-scale net fishing was overtaken by industrial fisheries. Her works are thus both documentary and deeply nostalgic.

Born Maud Dowley, Lewis was raised in the town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, the daughter of a blacksmith. Until her final days, she would revisit in her paintings the happy scenes of her childhood, depicting as well the birds and animals remembered from that time. Hers was an art of unbridled joy, despite the many harrowing setbacks she faced: her rheumatoid arthritis, which worsened as she progressed toward adulthood; the early deaths of her parents; the loss of her baby daughter born out of wedlock (and placed secretly with another family by Lewis’s father); and the difficulties of her later marriage. Her desire to make art was the driving force in her life.

Lewis had an instinctive gift for colour and composition, and she put that gift to remarkable use in her variations on set themes—from cats and kittens, to covered bridges, to her scenes of boats in harbour. We have gathered several of these series together, the better to understand her vision and appreciate the exuberant creativity she brought to the art of painting. Lewis sold the paintings from her little house at the side of the road at Marshalltown, NS, where she lived with her husband, Everett, from 1938 until her death in 1970, leaving through her work a legacy of irrepressible delight.

Did you know?

The Lake of the Woods gold rush in the 1890s brought miners and investors from across North America.  By 1893 there were 20 working gold mines on the Lake of the Woods.