Moving memories for legion

The Week — Feb. 16-22

This moving print has members of an Island legion hall wondering about the painting’s mysterious history.

The Week — Feb. 16-22

An artistic mystery has cropped up north of Victoria, as a painting anonymously donated to one Island legion hall has been turning heads and striking hearts — leaving many to wonder the story behind the moving image.

The print was rolled into a tube and left at the doors of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76 in Qualicum Beach last November. Staff were shocked by the image. They mounted and hung the early Christmas present as a memorial alongside other memorabilia in “Pussers Corner,” an area of the legion hall that pays tribute to sailors leaving for their ships.

“We’re so grateful to whoever thought to donate the print, and it’s just such an incredible image, but now we want to know more about it,” says John Dyson, a former lieutenant-commander engineer and legion member who has dedicated his last few months with a shoulder injury to tracking down the painting’s history. “All we really know is that the name ‘Robertson’ is on the left-hand corner, and that the image just grabs you.”

Dyson has worked with community members and other legions across Canada, and has heard from curators and art historians as far as France and Italy weighing in on the painting’s possible origins. Still, no one seems to have any conclusive findings, and Dyson and the group are hoping someone in the know comes forward.

“We have had a lot of response about this, but nothing has been nailed down yet,” says Dyson. “It looks like an old print and, believe me, we’re all old, but it would be nice to solve this mystery.”

Dyson hopes to find some answers by the time Qualicum Beach celebrates its Navy Day on Feb. 26, when the legion hosts 300 military members from around the Island. Anyone with information can contact Dyson at dyso@shaw.ca. M

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