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Art Contemporary (1945-)


The Life of Bohemian Rancher and Painter Sonia Cornwall, 1919-2006

by (author) Sheryl Salloum

Caitlin Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2015
Contemporary (1945-)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2015
    List Price

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After Sonia Cornwall's father died in 1939, her mother inherited the Onward Ranch and a huge debt. To make the ranch viable, a twenty-year-old Sonia traded paintbrush for pitchfork, labouring alongside the male ranch hands. But after marrying Hugh Cornwall in 1947, Sonia had time for painting once again. She learned techniques from some of Canada's most celebrated artists who came to visit the Onward Ranch, and later her home at the Jones Ranch, from Peter Aspell, Mollly Bobak and Jack Hardman to Group of Seven painters A.Y. Jackson and Joe Plaskett, Cliff Robinson and Zeljko Kujundic. Tales from renowned Cariboo Chilcotin personalities bring Sonia's story to life: old-timer Willie Crosina recalls pitchforking hay to seven hundred head of cattle in sixty below Fahrenheit, and filmmaker Peter Elkington describes the now-defunct home veterinary procedures practised by Sonia's husband, Hugh. Independent and driven, Sonia developed a distinct style that captured the nuances of the rugged interior in oils, mixed media, pastels and watercolours, doing for British Columbia's Central Interior what Emily Carr did for the Coast. The Honourable Judith Guichon, lieutenant governor of BC, describes Sonia's paintings as "very real, warm, alive." Sonia Cornwall died in 2006, but her paintings continue her important legacy of connecting us to rural life and the beauty of simple and unexpected places.

About the author

Sheryl Salloum was born and raised in British Columbia. She has lived and worked in various regions of the province. Sheryl graduated from Simon Fraser University with an English Major and Early Childhood Minor. A freelance writer for over twenty years, she has published articles in numerous Canadian magazines and newspapers. Her areas of interest include Canadian art, culture, and history and children’s issues. In 1995, she published Underlying Vibrations: The Photography and Life of John Vanderpant (Horsdal & Schubart). That book was a finalist for the Hubert Evans Non-fiction BC Book Prize. In 1987, Sheryl published Malcolm Lowry: Vancouver Days (Harbour Publishing). She and her husband have one daughter. They live in Vancouver.

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