The centrepiece of our museum is 35 paintings by Marge McDougall, which she painted in the 1950’s in Finlay Forks and some in the 1960’s while living in the Victoria area. Modesty would best describe Marge’s view of her abilities. The paintings were of her friends and neighbors, the First Nations people of the area, and she freely gave them away. The gifts were not meant as an addition to an art collection but because she loved to share.
Marge McDougall was born in Choteau, Montana July 1900, to Robert and Margaret Johnston (originally from Ontario). She first came to Prince George to visit her uncle “Haywire” Johnston and met Roy McDougall. They corresponded regularly and during the depression, Marge moved to Prince George. She was an excellent seamstress and had a dress shop “Marge’s Modiste” in the old Princess Theatre. She used to exchange remnants with Granny Seymour, another famous Prince George resident.
She married Roy McDougall sometime around 1940 and moved to Finlay Forks. This is the junction of the Finlay and Parsnip Rivers, which then become the Peace River. Roy ran a trading post amongst other things and Marge joined him in all endeavors. Painting was just one of her occupations. She has been a part time field matron of the Department of Northern Affairs, a mine recorder, post mistress, as well as helping with the company, and keeping a home.
She painted her first portrait on the cardboard lid of a grocery box. She used lampblack, walnut stain, bluing and egg yolk for paint. Most of her paintings were done by memory and a natural talent to paint what she sees. Around 1960 Marge moved to the Sidney area but continued to paint. Her husband joined her a few years later after closing up the trading post. The area is now at the bottom of Williston Lake.
We at the museum wish to highlight the people of the valley and the contributions they have made to the history and lore of the best part of the Province. If you have stories or information you would like to share, please feel free to contact us with an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We value what has been entrusted to us and wish to share it for many years to come.
We are also encouraging the sharing of memories and stories on our Facebook Page where we post a photo a week:http://facebook.com/mackenziemuseum. If you would like to send a photo that you know others would like to see, send it to us and we will post it.
Our hours are 10 am to 2 pm, Tuesday to Saturday, September to June. During July and August we are open 9am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
This article was published in the Golden Raven magazine, fall 2012.