Perspectives on Maud Lewis: Joan Small on the time they spent together


Published on May 24, 2017

Maud Lewis in a photograph taken by Joan Small on one of the many occasions she visited Maud at her house.

©Joan Small

DIGBY, NS – Joan Small is from Digby and has many memories of taking visitors to see Maud Lewis at her small but colourful house.

Whether they were family or friends, Small would bring everyone to meet Maud and to see her house.

She always left quite an impression.

“She was just so sweet,” says Small.

“She’d sit there, usually at the table painting, and she loved to see people come in.”

 

Maud

Small didn’t live close to the Marshalltown home of Maud.

Her connection instead came from her father’s lumber mill and supply store on the Digby Neck road, where Maud would get her beaverboard supplies.

The Maud Lewis house.

©Joan Small

She used the material to paint on and would send the size information for each piece to Small’s father in a small note, Ralph McIntyre.

He never charged her a penny.

“That was just him. He knew they had basically nothing and always gave it to her free of charge,” she says.

A note Maud wrote to McIntyre was even once for sale on Ebay.

 

Everett

McIntyre also helped Everett many times over the years, says Small. He was one of the few people Everett trusted completely and helped him set up a bank account.

Everett was known to bury his government cheques in a tin box in his backyard. When McIntyre found them, many were out of date. He then called the federal government and managed to get all of them reissued so Everett could deposit them.

Everett standing by the front painted window of the house.

©Joan Small

“He continued hiding money in the tin after that, but the cheques were taken care of,” says Small.

Small also remembers Everett’s interactions with her mother Willy, who worked as a doctor’s secretary. Everett would visit her and bring her ice cream – the only problem was that she was not interested.

“He definitely had a little crush on my mother. She never wanted his ice cream, though!” laughs Small.

 

The couple

Small remembers the couple vividly and recalls a trailer some people bought for them that has never been mentioned.

“The trailer was only slightly larger than the house and was for Maud and Everett to live in so she could paint in her house,” says Small.

“She ended up doing the opposite – painting in the trailer and living in the house.”

Small’s sister Judy and brother Patrick share many memories of going with their father to visit Maud.

Maud and Everett together inside their small but colourful house.

©Joan Small

They always went one at a time because the small house couldn’t hold many people.

Small now lives in Rothesay, N.B. and recently ran into another former Digby resident, Ian Anderson, who was a doctor in Digby.

“He told me Maud came into the hospital one day and was very sick. There were no beds to be seen, so he picked her up and carried her until he found her a bed. She was that small,” says Small.

She’s recently seen the Maudie movie and loved it. She would have loved it even more had it been filmed in Nova Scotia.

“I remember seeing her outside her in a chair holding her paintings, her hands so crippled they were almost fists,” she says.

“There was a big connection between my family and Maud.”

 

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