Through pen and ink illustrations and stories, Old Man’s Garden conveys the legends and folklore connected with Southern Alberta’s wildflowers, native plants, and Indigenous culture.
Originally published in 1954, Annora Brown’s Old Man’s Garden is a Canadian classic that tells the story of Southern Alberta’s native plants and wildflowers through art and in consideration of Indigenous traditional knowledge from the region.
Accompanying the new RMB edition of Old Man’s Garden, Sidney Black of Fort Macleod, the Indigenous Anglican Bishop for Treaty 7, provides his own commentary about Annora’s art and writing in relation to the Blackfoot, while independent art curator Mary-Beth Laviolette broadens the story about the artist’s contribution to Canadian art.
Also included in this new edition are full-colour images of Annora’s later paintings of Blackfoot lodges (tipis) and regalia, the dramatic landscape of the Oldman RIver region such as Waterton National Park, and her abiding, lifelong regard for the flora of her homeland.
According to Annora Brown, Old Man’s Garden is a “book of gossip about the flowers of the West.” A one-of-a-kind work featuring 169 black-and-white drawings of flowers and native plants, this classic text is about more than botany. Throughout its pages there is a sparkle to her stories of early exploration and settlement, her concern for conservation, and her regard for the Blackfoot Nation, and Indigenous culture.
About the authors
Annora Brown (1889–1987) was one of Alberta’s foremost early artists. She was formally trained at the Ontario College of Art in the 1920s, where the Group of Seven and Robert H. Holmes, one of Ontario’s foremost wildflower artists, instructed her. Her artistic practice spanned the 1930s to the mid-1980s. Despite the isolation of living in the frontier town of Fort Macleod for most of her life, Brown made a living as an artist through teaching (including at Mount Royal College, the University of Alberta, and the Banff School of Fine Arts), illustrating books and magazines, and selling her brightly coloured paintings in watercolour, tempera, and oil, and later, serigraph prints. Her work is represented in private collections and various public venues such as the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, and Calgary’s Glenbow Museum.
Mary-Beth Laviolette is an avid hiker and independent art writer and curator based in Canmore, Alberta, who specializes in Albertan and Western Canadian art. She is the author of A Delicate Art: Artists, Wildflowers and Native Plants of the West and An Alberta Art Chronicle: Adventures in Recent & Contemporary Art, 1970–2000, and co-author of Alberta Art & Artists: A Survey. Recent exhibitions she has curated include Reckonings: Michael Cameron & Karen Maiolo (Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff); Pulse: Alberta Society of Artists at 80 Years (Triangle Gallery of Visual Arts, Calgary) and Alberta Mistresses of the Modern: 1935 to 1975 (Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton). Mary-Beth is also a public speaker and enjoys engaging with the public about art whenever and wherever possible.