Montreal 1946 to 1948 - Making a Name in Art
Peter left British Columbia and travelled home on the train to re-enter civilian life and the art world once again. He was twenty-nine years old. His home town of Montreal was familiar and family and friends were pleased to have him home again. He continued to work in the commercial art field, make some inroads in his freelancing, and frequent the art galleries in his free time.
"I remember the day in 1946 I acquired a print by Frederick Waugh. I was still living in Montreal, but I held a persistent image of the Waugh paintings I had seen and admired greatly when I was studying Art in New York. His ability to convey the essence of the sea, its power and its beauty, were nothing short of miraculous to me." Ewart note 1993 "After 47 years of looking at it, I still receive pleasure. I am in his debt, for his work stimulates a feeling for the sea in me."
In 1947 Peter's work was being shown at the Stevens Art Gallery on Drummond Street in Montreal, and his art was becoming known in certain circles.
The write-up for a seascape printed in the Montreal Gazette stated: "Breakers, by Peter Ewart, is a spirited marine from the brush of a young Montreal painter who, posted on the west coast during his war service, found a good subject in the breaking seas of the Pacific Ocean. The play of light and shadow on the sun-lit rocks, breaking waves and swirling water is capitally rendered with breadth and understanding. The colour, too, is clean and sparkling and the design effective. This painting is at the Stevens Art Gallery, 1450 Drummond Street."
In The Montreal Gazette, March 22, 1947 it was entered: "Surf, Spider Island, B.C. by Peter Ewart of Montreal, who convincingly suggests weight in the rocks and movement in the water in this spirited impression of the Pacific on a sunny day. This work is in the Spring Exhibition of the Art Association of Montreal which was opened by the Governor-General on Thursday night."
A letter from MacDonald College (McGill University) dated March 25th, 1947 (following the article above) was addressed to Mrs. C.M. Ewart:
Dear Mrs. Ewart,
I saw a picture in the newspapers that was announced as by an artist called Peter Ewart. Yesterday I made my annual visit to the spring show in the Art Gallery and was tremendously impressed by the two seascapes by Peter, whom I guessed to be your son.
In my opinion they were the two best pictures in the show and reminded me very much of Horne Russell.
I also admired the pictures of Mr. Garside and Mr. Pilot and Sheriff Scott but I came back three times to Peter's pictures and broke the Tenth Commandment because I coveted his skill and also his two pictures.
I thought I would write and tell you how much enjoyment I received from my visit yesterday and I wish to congratulate you and your son - both of you - on this remarkable exhibit of his work. You must be very proud of him and I think some of his interest and taste must be inherited. I wish to tell him that there were many admirers yesterday and that I myself would have liked to come home and try a seascape after his model.
If I could accomplish such beautiful colouring myself I would die happy. It is just too bad that I am not in the wealthy class to buy the large one for myself. Mrs. Laird joins me and asks that you be told she thinks you must be a very happy mother.
Dean, School for Teachers
Also in 1947, Peter contracted pleurisy and pneumonia and spent an extended time in hospital in Montreal. In Vancouver, Susan learned of his illness and decided to hitch hike across the country to see him. He was recovering in a large ward near the end of a long row of beds, feeling rather sorry for himself, when in she walked. It was a true surprise, and needless to say it made quite an impression on him. She only stayed in Montreal for a couple of days, long enough to arrange a meeting and a stay with Peter's mother and then return home. Letters continued until December when an important decision was made. On December 31st Peter moved to Vancouver, where he could be with Susan.
The Way You Look Tonight a recording by Peter Ewart. Press play () to start listening.
1948 was a brand new year in many ways. He sought and found work in commercial art in the city, while in his free time beginning in earnest the pursuit of his solo career in the West.