Left is the location of the homestead, above, near Springville, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. This part of the province was noted for farming and lumbering.
The site of the farm was originally called Mackintosh Mills - the reason for which is clear in this painting - but was changed to Greenvale in 1891.
According to reports, the site of the homestead is now overgrown but the foundations of the house are apparently still there.
John Mackintosh, a joiner (furniture maker), of Irish Mountain, near Springville, Nova Scotia, (1813-1888) married Mary Mackenzie (1814-1907) in 1835 at Grant's Lake. They raised 12 children, some of whom started to change the spelling of their names, including a son, Dr. Donald Mackintosh (1846-1932), who went to Harvard and became a doctor who practiced in Pugwash, Nova Scotia. Other sons became joiners like their father, as well as druggists, carpenters, and blacksmiths at various times. Two of them, and a daughter, moved to Rhode Island, in the US.
Sadly, John died only three years after the picture was painted. He was 75, worn out by the hard work.
Mary, who raised all 12 of her children - 8 boys, 4 daughters - to adulthood, built an enormous reputation as a midwife during a time when there was no doctor available in this part of Nova Scotia. "Granny Mackintosh" reputedly never lost a mother or a baby in over 300 deliveries in the region. She charged $8 and stayed for a week with the mother and child, during the delivery time, till the new mother could manage on her own again.
Mary Mackintosh passed on in 1907, in her 94th year. Her daughter Elizabeth - known as Lizzie, Betty, and Elspet - whose husband had died, continued to live in the homestead above. When she died, in 1922, the farm must have been abandoned.
The painting, too, along with family possessions, moved away, a silent witness to a mighty enterprise once cut from the Canadian wilderness by an enterprising pioneering family.
We know it was a family heirloom because it was framed by Charles G Calder of 258 Westminster St., Providence, Rhode Island. We know three Mackintosh siblings ended up there. When that part of the family died out the painting went to auction.