Alan Caswell Collier, Relief Stiff


Alan Caswell Collier was one of Canada’s most admired and successful landscape painters, but during the Depression he worked alongside other single, unemployed men in government-run relief camps. Labouring for twenty cents a day, he detailed camp life and politics in letters to his fiancée and depicted fellow “relief stiffs” and the BC landscape in character sketches and paintings. Incisive and candid, his letters reveal a born contrarian with a strong sense of social superiority over his fellow “twenty centers.” But his letters also offer a fresh perspective on the hopes and dreams of an eminent Ontario artist and of the generation who came of age at a time of economic upheaval and class conflict.

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