Frank Mahovlich and the Group of Seven

About ten years ago, Frank Mahovlich told me this story at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinberg: “I was introduced to music as a kid in Northern Ontario. I was in an orchestra in which I played a string instrument very similar to the Russian balilaika– a tamburica– which was Croatian in origin. Duquesne University in Pittsburgh had a tamburica orchestra that used to come to Toronto a lot, but the guys in Schumacher were just as good. My dad had an awful time trying to get me to take lessons– I always wanted to be out between the snowbanks playing hockey– but I was glad that I did. I remember it as a very special period in my life. As for art, I was introduced to that while in school. There was a contest for the best painting and I won, but because I was into sports, I didn’t really follow it up. I got back into painting once I’d made the NHL, and when McMicheal (of the famous Kleinberg gallery) contacted me about patronizing his gallery, I became friends with the Group of Seven painters. AY Jackson would come to the house and AJ Casson spent two weeks every year for ten years at our cottage, painting and hanging around. He’d leave us with a painting each time. We had a lot in common because he had great knowledge and interest in Northern Ontario, near where I was born in Schumacher. When he talked about the Group of Seven going on their famous camping trips, I was familiar with what they’d gone through in  the wilderness. We also shared a great interest in gardening. When I was growing up, my mom would do the vegtables, but I took care of the flowers, and Cass shared an enthusiasm for this, too.”

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