The calendar wishes "Peace and Prosperity to You and Yours, 1918." The First Great War is still raging in Europe. The big German offensive is still to come, and almost an entire year more of the most dreadful, and useless, bloodletting in history.
Oddly enough this ultra Canadian scene was attached to an American calendar and handed out by the Mathew Hall Lumber Company in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
The soldier is dressed in a British or Canadian uniform. And the Canadian Mounted Policeman fills up a prominent part of the painting.
The depiction of the homecoming is a bit bogus of course, on several levels.
First of all, no one came home at all in early 1918 when Paul painted the scene. All the men stayed in France to fight to the end or die. Only the badly wounded were sent home. The rest all were there for the duration of hostilities, which did not end till November, 1918.
This was a careful plan by the military which had learned a lesson in the Boer War. There all the Canadian volunteers had signed up for a one year contract. When it expired they almost all, to a man, wanted to go home, even though the war was not over, and Lord Roberts, the British Commander-in-Chief, requested the Canadians stay on. To the embarrassment of the Canadian Commander, Col. Otter, most of his regiment wanted out. They had seen almost a year of war and wanted no more of it.
In World War I, the military forced every recruit to sign on till the end of hostilities. They were stuck. Most did not care. They all feared the war would be over in a few months and they would miss the fun.
They were wrong. As a result tens of thousands died, long after they had had enough, and wanted out. And the others had to continue shooting and killing, many getting grievously wounded, for three to four years. Those who came home were never the same again.
Also, contrary to the theme in Paul's painting, virtually no one came home with medals. They were still being designed while the war raged because no one could make up their minds on what kinds of medals should be issued or for what reason: battles, countries, territories, deeds, dates, etc.
This had also been the case in the Boer War, where most soldiers had to wait, one, two, or three years, after arriving home, to get their service medals.
The only ones who came home with medals pinned to their tunics were those rare few who had won them like the Victoria Cross, or the Distinguished Service Order, for bravery, and which were already in existence from previous wars.
This calendar came with a folded brochure explaining the story behind the artist and his painting.
|Great Canadian Heritage Treasure|
|Mathew Hall, St. Cloud, MN Calendar, 1918 - Featuring "Home Again" by Paul Wickson|
|Orig. calendar - Size - 30 x 38 cm
Found - Yarmouth, MA
Clearly this calendar was bought and put away in a drawer for safe-keeping, because the cover over the months of the year is still in place above.
It features a wonderful panoramic scene that allows Paul to display his love for painting animals, while telling a story featuring many characters. The focus of the painting is on the hero, the young soldier, "Home Again" from fighting the wars in Europe. Everyone wants to see his medals...
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