John Cooper/Kathleen Pemberton
Num-Ti-Jah Feb 2006


John Cooper & Kathleen Pemberton visited for seven days. Home by Mar. 2, 2006

We have just returned from Bow Lake and a seven day working visit to Jimmy Simpson’s Num-Ti-Jah Lodge.

This is perhaps the most beautiful and impressive place I’ve yet witnessed. This is literally a rustic, vintage log palace.Its conception and construction date from 1920. It is a grand testimonial to concepts and technologies gone long before, with a staff and management full of information and hospitality to astonish the most demanding appetite.

This is a spacious and imposing log and stone structure four stories high with three massive fire places, all built personally by Jimmy Simpson himself in person. [The reason I mention the builder is that his being radiates from every stone]. The dining room and library are both large. I feel that I am visiting a meeting place of kings long gone, but somehow presence still feeling here.

But, this is just the hotel on the radiant Bow Lake. The area is what it really is about. We arrived at night during an impressive storm, so imagine what it feels like next morning with a brilliant dawn and Canadian Rocky Mountains, Peaks and glaciers all 360 degrees in every direction. As a ‘plein air’ painter I was just thrilled, but also a little frightened. The prospect of actually learning to see at this magnitude is just this side of overwhelming.

So we started to work right after an excellent breakfast. [The food is also excellent]. At first it was just research, but after a couple days of painting, looking and dialogue it made so much sense. The trick for me was to somehow fasten it together, to get a logic about how it all fits in, and create pictures that feel right. The wind, snow and quality of the light were all constantly up for grabs. This is not a static place. They say ’if you don’t like how it is just wait a little while’. It is so true. Some mornings we woke up to brilliant skies that I expected to last forever. Wrong, by 10:00 o clock a storm of impressive proportion might be coming in over Jimmy Simpson ‘s Peaks and we had to go paint the hotel for three or four hours. Then again it changes and so do we. We just turn our easels around, have a shot of scotch and go for it. You just can’t miss. Splendor and beauty are everywhere.

And then there are the Ravens. These birds are big, tough, smart and I suspect quite old. They come close, they’ll pick food right from your hand, and are dangerously interested in any or all materials and tools. They continue to labor at eating bags of tools and paint, windshield-wipers, antennas or any knobs or fasteners you may hang out to keep your process together. We became quite enamored of these pesky clowns and included them as our constant companions in many of our paintings. As the week quickly passed bye, the Ravens {especially two} caught more and more of our attention. By the time we left we had painted and drawn 36 lil’ raven pictures and given them all away to staff and guests. These birds get into the heart much as a dog or other pet. They love to teas our little dog Zosh as she always goes for them and just before she strikes, they are two feet out of reach. What a show!

Even as I write this I am again excited. This place is a grand experience with skiers, snow-shoers and hikers going every direction. Many professional photographers and visual appreciaters among the rest of the sportspeople. Politics and other preoccupations magically disappear. There is a flavor of appreciation permeating the air. It would be impossible to explain or exaggerate! If you can get there, you will gain an understanding to remember!

Best wishes and memories,


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