Tom Cariboo : After which it was the bear that we had to drag to the camp

Frederick S. Coburn (1871 - 1960)

Tom Cariboo : After which it was the bear that we had to drag to the camp , 1899

  • Medium

    Oil on canvas

  • Time

    19th century

  • Dimensions

    54 cm x 81 cm / 21,25'' x 32''

  • Signed

    Signed and dated 99 lower left

In 1899, Frederic Coburn worked to illustrate the book Christmas in French Canada (1874) by the author Louis Fréchette. The eight stories that make up this collection feature the traveler and storyteller Jos Violin. Frechette's tasty tale is laced with terms from French-Canadian woodman jargon. One is called Tom Caribou. The story tells the story of a woodcutter who, refusing to go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve with the other men of the shipyard, decides to celebrate in his own way. At the end of the Mass, the companions found Tom Caribou "[...] pointed in the fork of a big cherry tree, pale as a winding-sheet, eyes starting out of their sockets, at the muzzle of a she-bear who clung to the trunk about two feet below him who was holding the birch tree, two feet below him [...] "1. Following a clash between the men and the beast, the latter was brought back to the camp.

Finally, the tireless storyteller Jos Violon unveils the reason why Tom Caribou chose to take shelter here: "You are going to ask me what Tom Caribou case had in this fork. Well, in this fork there was a hollow, and in this hollow our drunkard had hidden a pitcher of whiskey [...] "2. This episode marks Tom Caribou forever "It was his punishment for not wanting to put a good heart on Christmas day ..." 3 continues Jos Violin.

Regarding the 23 compositions created by the artist as part of this illustration project, Alain Fournier emphasizes that the landscapes and characters of Coburn "[...] support Fréchette in his approach of safeguarding traditions and add a touch to atmosphere recreated by the text »4. F. Coburn's work Tom Cariboo: On the page of the illustrated edition of Christmas in French Canada (1899). The theatrical atmosphere of Coburn's work illustrates the captivating story of the storyteller Jos Violin. Thus, Coburn, through this composition, is a chronicler of folk tales and legends of the past.

1. Louis Frechette, 1874, "Tom Cariboo," Christmas in French Canada, Toronto: Morang, 202-222. For the French version, URL: https://beq.ebooksgratuits.com/pdf/Frechette-Jos.pdf (quote from page 108)

2. Louis Frechette, 1874, "Tom Cariboo," Christmas in French Canada, Toronto: Morang, 202-222. For the French version, URL: https://beq.ebooksgratuits.com/pdf/Frechette-Jos.pdf (quote from page 111)

3. Louis Frechette, 1874, "Tom Cariboo," Christmas in French Canada, Toronto: Morang, 202-222. For the French version, URL: https://beq.ebooksgratuits.com/pdf/Frechette-Jos.pdf (quote from page 113)

4. Fournier, Alain, 1991. Louis Frechette's Christmas in Canada, Cap-aux-Diamants, (24), p. 75.

Louis Fréchette, Christmas in Franch Canada, 1899


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