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It is the year 1918. Despair has fallen on Homer. His fame and fortune seems to be fading and eroding with time and economic uncertainty. Time seems to be moving on quickly without him. “These new Group of Seven artists are painting with wild, intense colours. Who are they? What is their training? What are they trying to portray?” he wonders.
Alone in his studio, surrounded by half completed canvases, tubes of dried paint, and used brushes, Homer sits and rocks in his old rocking chair. A monstrous easel looms vacant in the corner, and a large painter’s utility box sits empty on the floor beside him. The floor boards are worn and splattered with remnants of paint and varnish, and they creak under his weight. Left forgotten near the edge of the room waits an aged travel trunk.
The trunk reminds him of happier times: times when nature itself spoke to him with such energy and vitality that canvas after canvas filled with life; times that he shared with Roxa, his wife, dreams and hopes of bringing art to the people; times when his travels took him to explore the glory and vastness of nature; and times when he used his skilled hand and let the force and power of his work elevate the very spirit and soul of his viewers.
Now Roxa is gone from this world and the landscape seems dull. Is the spirituality of his beloved forest gone too? Unsettled skies, outside a large double-hung window, cast grey light through the rippled panes of glass, leaving streaky shadows over his life’s work.
Then, from his peripheral view, he sees movement. His gaze draws slowly toward a peculiar amber glow. Homer stops rocking. He watches the glow change form.
Homer’s heart beats faster. This is certainly not from his realm. Homer rises cautiously and moves toward the vision. Is that Roxa? How can this be? She appears so life-like and seemingly tangible. She begins to fade away.
Homer slumps back into his chair feeling like a lost soul, both elated and depressed. In grief, Homer whispers his beloved’s name almost inaudibly, “Roxa.” Roxa’s voice calls out to him, “Do not despair .” She again stands before him looking so natural; her smile so sweet, “All is well, Homer.” Her words resound clear in his mind. Wonder and apprehension take his breath away. The glow softly, slowly fades away. “Roxa, come back,” his hand reaching to where her vision had appeared. “Could it have been? Or was it a delusion?” he wonders.
After the sighting, Homer went on to create some of his most popular “late period” work. As noted by Muriel Miller in her book Homer Watson The Man of Doon, “Whatever its origins, that…vision of his wife, was the forerunner of his conversion to spiritualism…or “spiritism” as he called it. Homer believed he could contact the woman he loved, and he took solace in that.” Homer held séances and contacted many spirits. He and Machenzie King would hold séances to ask for opinions and help with life choices. Séances were held through-out the Doon School days and into the Cayley period. One of the most recent séances was held in 1996 by the late Gerald Noonan, author and Laurier University professor, in preparation for his book, Refining the real Canada: Homer Watson’s Spiritual Landscape.