Guyette & Deeter, Inc. and Ducks Unlimited Canada Present
The Peter Brown Collection The largest collection of Canadian decoys ever to be offered at auction
Net proceeds from this sale will go directly to Ducks Unlimited Canada
Introduction Peter Brown’s decoy collection comprises examples from “coast to coast” in Canada. The collection contains “primitives”, a few “decorative” carvings; some great old decoys in as found gunning repaint as well as splendid examples in form and condition by most of the well known carvers. Peter Brown, the “art collector” is not a duck hunter. Decoys did not bring memories of past hunts, duck retrieving dogs or time spent in duck blinds. He has never used decoys as a tool to deceive waterfowl – he has never shot a duck. Can a person who has never shot a duck really understand or appreciate an old pedigreed wooden decoy? Can a person who has never studied decoys from a blind, not thought of market hunters, duck clubs, outlaw gunners or wrapped his cold hands around the neck of a warm duck fully appreciate the old wooden carving? The answer as illustrated by the collection is an emphatic yes. Peter is an art collector. He sees form. He sees sculpture. The hunt, the kill are not part of the allure. The decoy – repainted, maker unknown, battered and bruised was art – bird sculpture if you will, just as surely as the Fernlund pintails in his collection. Collecting decoys exclusively as an art form as Peter Brown has done while not being a waterfowler will ultimately benefit all who appreciate old gunning decoys.
North America’s earliest decoys may be the reed canvasbacks created by the Tule Eaters Indian Tribe circa 1000 A.D. discovered at Lovelock Cave Nevada in 1924.
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Above: Ducks Unlimited Canada’s (DUC) former national planned giving manager Lloyd Derry with Peter Brown (right), who donated a portion of his extensive antique decoy collection to DUC.
The tale of a consummate collector
eter Brown will never forget the first time he opened a box of antique Canadian waterfowl decoys. They’d been sent to him by decoy collector Bruce Malcolm, who, along with renowned carver Ron Gruber, thought Brown might be interested in a collection of his own as an investment. That was back in the 1980s. Brown, a Vancouver, B.C., businessman, had already acquired important artwork by Group of Seven and Haida artists. He had other collections, too. But hand carved decoys were different. “I’d never seen a great decoy before, and I thought: these are really something,” says Brown. “There’s no question they were works of art.” Brown was hooked. “As I got more interested, I thought it would be fun to put together the definitive collection of Canadian birds, pursue each of the great carvers and try to get
as many of the species that they made that I could. We ended up with a few thousand birds.” Drawing from sheds, boat houses, duck clubs and collections across Canada, over time, Brown would work with Malcolm and others to amass the remarkable collection of decoys ranging from mint condition to gunning repaints. “Peter liked all decoys, not just the best ones,” says Malcolm. “He had a passion for them. It was not about investment and money. He would interrupt a board meeting or stock trading session to take my call about a possible new acquisition.” “He had a powerful, positive influence on Canadian decoy collecting in the 1980s.”
ZZZ Now, at the age of 75, Brown has taken the unprecedented step of divesting his decades-long pursuit. In May, he donated 1,000 antique duck, geese and
“This is a rare opportunity for DU supporters, waterfowlers, folk art collectors and decoy enthusiasts to acquire a historical, important waterfowl hunting artifact while supporting DUC and its mission.” – bruce malcolm
From Ducks Unlimited Canada’s conservator magazine, fall 2016.
shorebird decoys, appraised at $1.5 million, to Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC). In turn, DUC is offering the majority of the collection to the public through auction by Guyette & Deeter, Inc., the world’s largest decoy auction firm based in Maryland. DUC will be the beneficiary of net proceeds from the sale. The majority of the decoys will be sold beginning April 2017, however, some are now being offered on Guyette & Deeter’s weekly online auctions at decoys forsale.com. Most of the birds are working decoys carved in the late 1800s and early 1900s, including a pair of Fernland pintails appraised at $260,000. “This is a rare opportunity for DU supporters, waterfowlers, folk art collectors and decoy enthusiasts to acquire a historical, important waterfowl hunting artifact while supporting DUC and its mission,” says Malcolm. “There are wonderful core decoys in the Brown/DUC collection: high value, sought-after decoys by all of the important Canadian makers. In addition, there are a large number of lesser known, well-carved decoys that are very collectible and offer great value.” “They’re beautiful things,” says Brown. “I was happy to have them. A collection like that will likely never happen again.”
ZZZ At Brown’s request, a portion of the collection will remain in Canada and displayed periodically at the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre in Manitoba, site of DUC’s national office. That display
will be dedicated to Brown’s late long-time friend and best man,William McLallen Jr., who was a “phenomenal duck hunter and outdoorsman,” says Brown. “It took three days for DUC and Guyette & Deeter staff to pack, appraise and photograph the donated decoys at Mr. Brown’s home.” says DUC’s former national manager of planned giving Lloyd Derry, who spent months working on the logistics of acquiring and selling the collection. Derry, who retired in December 2016, adds “It was a nice but challenging way to end my career.”
ZZZ Malcolm, a DUC supporter, avid waterfowl hunter and decoy collector who lives on the north shore of Lake Erie in Norfolk County, Ont., says Brown’s generous gift is a perfect tribute to Canada’s – and DUC’s – waterfowling heritage. “Many extensive DUC projects exist where these decoys were used over the years,” says Malcolm. “Places like Ontario’s Lake St. Clair, Rondeau Bay, Turkey Point and Long Point and Prince Edward County and throughout Quebec, the Maritimes and B.C.’s Fraser Delta.” “I find it ironic that a group of decoys collected from coast to coast arrive in Vancouver, stay for 25-plus years, migrate en masse to Manitoba, ‘stage’ and are now about to redistribute throughout North America to people who will again admire and cherish them. Many will no doubt end up in homes in Canadian waterfowling areas where they were originally created and used, thanks to DUC and Peter Brown.”
Comments from Guyette & Deeter, Inc. This ebook has been produced to highlight the importance of the Peter Brown collection and also to educate and expose decoy collecting to the many thousands of conservation minded, outdoor loving enthusiasts that are members of Ducks Unlimited. While the entire collection was close to one thousand pieces in total, only a small sampling is represented in the ebook. The decoys photographed are representations of important carvers recognized within their collecting flyway: Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, and the West. Additionally, we have highlighted a few individual makers like Ivar Fernlund, George and James Warin, John Ralph Wells, The Reeves Family, and Ken Anger, all which were areas of focus within Mr. Brown’s collection. For years Canadian decoys collectors were aware of the large collection stashed away in Vancouver, British Columbia – all owned by the private multimillionaire and philanthropist, Peter Brown. Collectors also knew the decoys were destined to spend the rest of entirety in a Canadian museum. For those who had some indication as to what the collection contained, this was always a bit sad. To our surprise, Mr. Brown had a change of mind. After several months of discussions, the collection became the property of Ducks Unlimited Canada who will be the sole beneficiary of this sale. There are two real winners in this transaction, first and foremost, the ducks, which stand to have a windfall of over a million dollars to be directed toward conservation, and second, the decoy collectors that were always hoping to have a chance at adding one of these unique pieces to their collection. Guyette & Deeter has been selected to deaccession the Brown collection for Ducks Unlimited Canada. The first cataloged session at auction will be April 27 & 28, 2017. The sale will be held in conjunction with the North American Vintage Decoy and Sporting Collectibles Show in St. Charles, Illinois. A 275 page full color catalog with guaranteed condition reports is available for $45 (price includes postage). The catalog may be obtained by calling (410) 745-0485, or by email at Michael@guyetteanddeeter.com. Select items are also viewable by visiting the Preview section of the website, www.guyetteanddeeter.com; and the full color catalog will also be viewable online roughly two weeks before auction. The auction will also be accessible live online through www. Invaluable.com. Some items from the Brown collection are currently being offered on the company’s weekly online auction at www.decoysforsale.com. Guyette & Deeter provides free decoy appraisals to anyone sending a decoy photo and stamped, self addressed envelope to: Guyette & Deeter, PO Box 1170, St. Michaels, MD 21663. For email send to: Gary Guyette: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 410-745-0485. Jon Deeter: email@example.com, Phone 440-610-1768.
Guyette & Deeter Inc. would like to thank the following for making this event possible Lloyd and Velma Derry
O ntario Iva r Fe rn lund
Ivar Fernlund Hamilton, Ontario Pair of Pintails 5
Ivar Gustav Fernlund Bluebills
Hamilton, Ontario Canada A pattern maker by trade, Fernlund worked for Westinghouse and eventually lived at “The Beach Strip” on Hamilton’s waterfront at Burlington Bay. Fernlund made approximately 150 decoys for his personal use that were lightweight, hollow, precisely carved having wonderfully blended and textured artist oil paint. The heads were well carved, precise, with varied head positions and always with the great attitude. He made his rig starting around 1905 – Hamilton Bay’s finest which contained at least 10 species of ducks.
Ivar Fernlund, circa 1920 Phot courtesy “Decoys of Southwest Ontario,” Paul Brisco
O ntario K e n A n ge r
Ken Anger Dunnville, Ontario Pair of Mergansers 8
Ken Anger 1905-1961 | Dunnville Ontario Ken lived in Dunnville on the banks of the Grand River a few miles north of where it enters the north shore of Lake Erie at Port Maitland Ontario. Dunnville with its river, marshes and proximity to Hamilton Bay to the N.E. and Long Point Bay to the S.W. was an area where quality decoys were in demand. Ken was an avid fisherman and hunter; duck and woodcock hunting with his cocker spaniels was his passion. Ken became a commercial decoy maker in the late 1930’s. As with most prolific carvers, his styles changed quite dramatically between the 1930’s until his death in 1961. Dunnville’s other internationally renowned carver Peter Marshall Pringle (1878-1953) is said to have influenced Ken’s work, particularly his use of heavy texturing with the wood rasp. Ken entered the “National Decoy Contest” in New York USA in 1948 and again in 1949 taking multiple first place Blue Ribbons each year. American sportsmen and collectors had found Dunnville’s Ken Anger. The international demand for Anger decoys continues to this day. In addition to his gunning Blacks, Mallards, Redheads, Canvasbacks, Bluebills, Whistlers, Buffleheads, Teal and Pintails, collectors were now commissioning decorative species – Wood Duck, Shovellers, Mergansers and Old Squaw (Long Tailed Duck). Ken made several thousand gunning decoys for local sportsmen from Dunnville, Long Point, Hamilton Bay, Niagara and Buffalo areas. As his fame spread, his distribution area increased especially for his decorative work in the mid 1950’s until his death. Several extremely rare or one-of-a-kind decoys including Shovellers and Red Breasted Merganser decoys are
included in the Brown/DU Canada collections. Ken’s gunning decoys were hollow using the best materials including Japanese oil paint. The wood was always rasp textured especially the head. His decoys were on the large size; highly visible; extremely durable structure and paint; true to species and species’ profile. They were a serious duck hunter’s decoy – no thin bills to break or fragile tails to chip. They were expensive, but they were quality. It is believed that Ken made several thousand gunning duck decoys, a few geese, possibly a hundred decorative decoys plus wall plaques and book ends featuring ducks and upland birds. Ken “The Rasp Master” Anger’s decoys are still highly sought after some 60 years after construction.
Fl a ts D e c oy s A n I n t r o d u ct i on t o Flats Dec oy s Flats Decoys Usually hollow with thin bottom boards; sometimes solid bodied; aesthetically pleasing; always exhibiting the fine form, workmanship and outstanding function of the master craftsman; wonderfully painted, hard, durable fine combing, detailed, well blended feather painting with outstanding color; realistically carved heads; diminutive in form – the Flats Decoys. Tom Chambers, J.R. Wells, David Ward, George and James Warin along with the “Reeves” of Long Point are credited with creating the so-called Toronto School Flats Decoys, the tag that Barney Crandell (the Michigan collector and decoy historian who wrote the great, early, ground breaking articles on these decoy makers) hung on this style of decoy. The “Flats Decoy” is not limited to six makers. Many decoy makers made similar style lures, some no doubt influenced by the “Big Six” especially on the Toronto waterfront. However, many other known and unknown makers throughout Ontario made wonderful hollow decoys including early Nichol, Jones, and Chrysler in Eastern Ontario and Reid, Morris and Fernlund from Hamilton Bay.
Flats Geese Flats geese are exceedingly rare. Phineas Reeves, John Reeves, Tom Chambers, George and/or James Warin geese are all found in the Brown collection. They date from the 1860’s through to the early 1900’s and were primarily used at prestigious waterfowl hunting clubs in Ontario Canada. These geese exemplify the qualities that make these “Flats Decoys” so sought after, their features so compelling.
O ntario G e o r ge Wa r i n
George Warin Toronto, Ontario Canada Goose 14
The Warins James Warin (1832-1883)
George Warin (1830-1904)
Toronto, Ontario The Warins were boat builders and decoy makers who hunted extensively on the Toronto waterfront and Lake St. Clair. George travelled to western Canada around the turn of the century arranging and escorting the Duke of York on his royal shoot at the Delta Marsh in Manitoba. They were in business as “G & J Warin Boat Builders” as early as 1873. George and James were very involved in the sport of rowing, more specifically building racing sculls, using innovative seat and oar designs for competition rowing. World champion rower Ned Hanlon was a friend and customer who was mentored and sponsored by the Warins in his pursuit of multiple world titles. The Warins travelled throughout Ontario to regattas including Chatham, St. Catharines, Niagara and Eastern Ontario. George Warin was a founding member of the St. Clair Flats Shooting Company in 1874. The Warins sold boats and decoys to members of the elite duck clubs as well as to individual sportsmen. Warin implemented “shooting rules” to increase the harvest at several clubs at the Flats. At the St. Clair Flats it was the height of the market hunting era. Ducks were sold. Warin personally shot over 800 ducks at the Canada Club in 1876. Some of his rules included: only shoot every other day; stop shooting before sundown; feed ponds daily – clearly a recipe for success. The Warin decoys are an integral part of Barney Crandell’s “The Toronto School of Flats Decoy Makers”. Hollow; lightweight; wonderful diminutive forms – Warins decoys included most species of ducks. Geese were usually very hollow, extremely rare, graceful, again meticulously painted – truly works of art. Decoy production numbers are always speculative at best; some suggest possibly 2000 decoys. Several Warin decoys in excellent, original condition including goose decoys are found in the Brown/DU Canada collection. George Warin was the undisputed patriarch of the rowing and hunting society of that era in Canada. His best decoys are unquestionably some of Canada’s finest early decoys.
O n tario Joh n R. Wel l s
John R. Wells Toronto, Ontario Pair of Shovelers 20
John R. Wells 1861-1953 John Rice Wells (J.R.W.) was an accomplished boat builder, decoy maker and legendary wing shot who worked for 43 years for the Ackroyd Boat Company on the Toronto waterfront. Wells, along with his friends the Warins, Chambers and the Reeves was an integral member of Barney Crandell’s Toronto School of decoy makers. His decoys, both solid and hollow were carved and painted true to the species including separating juvenile plumage from adult. Wells, who made most species, sold to members of the elite waterfowl clubs and was a frequent guest. Wells hunted at Long Point on the north shore of Lake Erie over many decades. J.R.W. Maker – some of Canada’s best decoys. Photo: The Duck Hunters – A Day at Long Point Canada. J. R. Wells of Toronto – 4th from the left with P. Reeves, Charles Reeves and Frank Reeves.
O n tario To m C h amber s
Tom Chambers Toronto/Wallaceburg Ontario 1860-1948 Canada Goose – Canvasback – Redhead 26
Thomas Chambers 1864-1950 Toronto/Wallaceburg Ontario, Canada Tom Chambers was a highly skilled waterfowl hunter from Toronto who as a young man hunted the Toronto waterfront and surrounding area on Ashbridges Bay. He moved to Wallaceburg and Walpole Island in the mid 1880’s to manage The St. Anne’s Duck Club for his friend George Warin. From there he moved to the St. Clair Flats Shooting Company as manager. For the next 43 years he managed the “Canada Club”, one of the finest and most prestigious waterfowl clubs in the country. Most importantly to decoy collectors, Chambers another member of “Toronto School of Carvers” produced a few hundred duck decoys and perhaps a dozen geese for wealthy sportsmen of the Canada Club and others. Canvasbacks, Redheads and Black Ducks dominated his production. Chamber’s decoys – meticulously carved, always with striking, racy profiles, usually hollow, swept back necks and understated elegance. He used simple, effective paint patterns, usually combed or scratch paint textured – always lifelike on the water. A few decoys were branded Thoms. Chambers Maker. As one might expect, between the mid 1880’s and 1930, changes in style occurred. He made 5 distinct Redhead styles and several distinct Canvasback styles – a wonderful array of styles, not surprising given the time span, economic changes and available time while managing a prestigious duck club. Chamber’s Canvasback, Goose and Redhead decoys all have a common theme; function; simple, effective paint; meticulously well-carved and above all striking profiles, racy, stylized; compelling – “St. Clair Flats Best”.
Photo courtesy Ken Cole
Sou thwest Ontari o Hi ghlig h ts by in dividual m a k e rs
Phineas Reeves 1833 - 1892 Long Point Canada Goose 33
All decoys used at Long Point Shooting Company Jack Reeves left and the Honourable Roland Michener Govenor General of Canada, enjoying the fruits of Long Point Company’s marsh lands.
Long Point Decoys The Reeves Family Port Rowan/Long Point Ontario
For over 150 years, Long Point and The Long Point Company established in 1866 have stirred the emotions of waterfowlers. The Long Point Company members, North America’s industrial and business nobility, hosted Royalty, entertainers, sportsmen and America’s premier sporting artists including Louis Aggasiz Fuertes, Frank W. Benson and Ogden M. Pleissner. The Company inspired the development of other conservation oriented, elite waterfowling clubs in Canada. The Winthrop family were turn of the century members of the “Company” and continue to this day. During the mid 1930’s, Norfolk County along with much of the Midwest USA and Canada was in a severe drought. The marshes of Long Point Bay including The Long Point Company were virtually dry. When Robert Winthrop joined “The Company” in 1937, he along with Joseph Knapp and E.H. Low founded Ducks Unlimited. Decoys including a rare Charles Reeves canvas covered Widgeon in the Brown collection bear the Winthrop family brand. The mystique of Long Point as captured by the aerial image of The Point is synonymous with waterfowling, The Long Point Company, and Reeves family decoys. Local families, and in particular the Ferris’, Reeves, Reids and Wamsley’s have been an integral part of the hunting club since 1866 and continue today. The Reeves’ family decoy makers – Phineas, John, Frank, Charles, and Jack ……waterfowl guides, boat builders, marsh managers, trappers and commercial fishermen.…..this family of baymen always comes to mind with any mention of historical Canadian waterfowl collectibles. The publication of the excellent book Lore and Legends of Long Point by Harry B. Barrett in 1977 brought Long Point country “its shifting sands and lonely marshes and ridges of Lake Erie’s great sand spit” to our decoy rooms. The research published by the late Bernard Crandall regarding The Long Point Company (1866) and The St. Clair Flats Shooting Company (1874), and their exceptional decoy makers, made the first significant contribution to the documentation of Reeves family decoy artifacts. Further publications and serious collector’s pursuit of quality decoys has further augmented the recognition of the Reeves Family and Canada’s contribution to this North American folk art. Phineas Reeves decoys – elegant; flowing lines; hollow. And the paint – artist oils; long, flowing brush strokes from years working on buggy paint detail and decorative furniture detailing.. These Phineas decoys from the 1880’s branded with the owners’ names; from The Company; with age, history and style are some of the Reeves family best. Son John moved to The St. Clair Flats Co. in his 20’s where he made his iconic goose decoys. Frank and Charles started making decoys in the late 1890’s, first working at the Big Creek Shooting Club at Long Point but later came to The Long Point Company. Charles made several hundred decoys mostly Redheads, Canvasbacks, Pintails, Blacks, a few Teal decoys as well as other species. Some were solid, some hollow and some canvas covered. Frank carved similar decoys though considerably less in number. The decoys of Charles and Frank have great heads and well carved bodies with simple, elegant paint. Charle’s son Jack who started carving decoys with his father around 1920 was very prolific, making decoys for over 60 years. Jack’s early decoys are similar to those of Charles. The Reeves decoys are well documented and deservedly so. Excellent Long Point decoys by Walter Bailey and Isaiah Brown as well as some unknown makers are all found in the Peter Brown collection. Over a period of 150 years; with great provenance; historically significant; superbly crafted – The Decoys of Long Point.
All decoys used at Long Point Shooting Company
Jack Reeves poses atop the Long Point Company club house with a 4 bore cradled in his arms. Members’ “cottages” are in the background
Charles Reeves at Long Point
Other Southwest Ontario Makers
Frank Dolson Photo credit Paul Brisco
Morris Boat Works
Morris Boat Works
Conserving the clubs Southern Ontario hunt clubs have made significant contributions to the conservation of the critical Great Lakes coastal wetlands that are so important to migrating waterfowl. But as more of these hunt clubs are sold to other interests, can this long and storied tradition of conservation continue? By Leigh Patterson
A history of conservation
Adapted from Ducks Unlimited Canada’s Conservator magazine, spring 2014.
he first hunt clubs in Ontario began to appear in the early 1880s. Waterfowl hunters from both sides of the border, and from all walks of life, started purchasing highly productive wetlands. Local residents shared the vision with the political and business elite. Auto magnate Henry Ford II owned the Mud Creek Club on Lake St. Clair, not surprising given that the Detroit skyline can be seen on a clear day. By the late 1880s, hunt clubs had evolved into the leading conservation agencies of the day, becoming pockets of wetland conservation in a sea of agricultural and urban development. The Long Point Company, established in 1866 on the north shore of Lake Erie, was among the first to implement habitat improvements. It put an end to illegal logging on Long Point, and introduced what are arguably the first hunting regulations and daily bag limits in Canada. In addition to protecting wetland habitat, in the early 1960s, the Company transferred land to the province
of Ontario for a provincial park and public waterfowl hunting area. In the 1970s, the Company again transferred land, this time to the federal government for the creation of the Long Point National Wildlife Area (NWA). These moves established long-term protection of the fragile wetland and upland habitats associated with Long Point. Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) past president Tom Worden says a hunt club can instill an early appreciation for wetlands and the role waterfowlers historically played in wetland conservation. He honed his waterfowling skills as a member of the Turkey Point Company, a hunt club across Long Point Bay from the Long Point Company. “If not for hunt clubs, I’d be afraid some of those wetlands would be diked, drained and growing carrots,” says Worden. “Obviously with the hunt clubs there, they weren’t going to let that happen.” Beyond protecting lands to support waterfowl, the hunt clubs’ influence extends beyond their immediate locales. The camaraderie and friendships developed in blinds and around dining room tables led Sinclair and
past Ducks Unlimited, Inc. President and fellow Turkey Point Company member Hazard Campbell, to form DUC’s first volunteer fundraising chapter. “When you think about the conservation legacy started by sportsmen through private hunt clubs along the lower Great Lakes, it’s extremely significant, in the thousands of acres,” says Mark Gloutney, DUC’s director of regional operations, eastern region. “We need to find solutions to ensure that these critical wetlands remain in place for future generations.”
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Modern challenges It’s expensive to maintain large tracts of quality marshland. To stay financially afloat, some hunt clubs are looking to more lucrative ventures such as selling a portion of their property to turn into agriculture lands, or pulling up stakes and selling everything outright. When agriculture land sells for $20,000 per acre and wetlands sell for $1,500 per acre, it’s easy to see why. “Our challenge is that if we buy land at farmland values, put a conservation easement on it, and then resell it, we are incurring a cost of up to 75 per cent of the farmland value,” says Gloutney. “The conservation community should not have to bear the burden for protecting coastal wetlands that are critical to the health of continental waterfowl and the Great Lakes ecosystem.” “If we had effective wetland policies in place, these existing wetlands would be protected and the conser-
vation community could focus conservation dollars on restoration efforts that result in incremental wetland habitat.” Focusing on the future There is no simple answer to address the growing concern about the loss of vital hunt club land. Many current club owners continue to maintain their conservation ethic through partnerships with local stewardship agencies, DUC and others. The goal is to maintain or improve existing habitats, install duck nest boxes and control invasive plants such as phragmites. A number have signed conservation easements so lands are protected for future generations. DUC is exploring opportunities for partnered securement and/or acquisition of hunt club wetlands. The organization is also working with municipal, provincial and federal governments, hoping to develop a comprehensive wetland policy that significantly strengthens wetland protection measures. “The substantial growth in human population forecast for the Great Lakes region in the coming decades will also seriously affect remaining wetlands and the waterfowl that depend on them,” Gloutney notes. “That’s why protecting and enhancing our collective investments in these areas is a key component to ensure the landscapes of southern Ontario remain healthy to support waterfowl, wildlife and benefit society as a whole.”
So uth Ce n t r al Ontar i o H i g h l i g h t s b y i ndi vidual makers
In the 1970s there was a farm sale outside of Markham, Ontario. At the sale, a number of decoys were sold, which are now known as the â€œMarkham Rig.â€? Some of the decoys were thought to have been made by Walker Moorley and some by a talented unknown maker. The most interesting decoys in the group, attributed to the unidentified maker, had heavily carved mandibles and nostrils as the redhead drake exhibits. 42
Markham Rig Redhead 43
Bud Tully, circa 1945.
Harve Davern, circa 1920.
Art Chilton 46
A Ducks Unlimited Canada Conservation Story from Ontario
ProjeCt sPotLight: LAke St. CLAir, SouthweStern ontArio
ntario is home to 13 million people with more than 94 per cent living in the southern part of the province. More people, bigger cities and an increasing demand for agricultural products are impacting wetlands. Some areas of southern Ontario have lost more than 90 per cent of wetlands. Many have little natural cover – grasslands, trees or water – of any kind left. Without natural cover, wildlife can’t survive. The land can’t endure extreme weather events. As a result, flooding occurs and water quality is impaired. Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is working to stop this trend. For over 25 years, DUC has played a significant role in protecting and restoring wetlands along the lower Great Lakes in southwestern Ontario. Coastal wetlands are critical to the health and well-being of all who use the Great Lakes, but they are under significant threat. It is only by working together, that we can make a difference and save Ontario’s wetlands. On June 10, 2015, DUC announced an investment of almost $1 million to restore seven wetlands, representing more than 900 acres (375 ha), along the shores of Lake St. Clair. Investing in these critical Great Lakes coastal
wetlands will ensure they not only continue to exist, but that they will remain healthy and productive for many years to come.
Z Z Z Z Z Z
Jeannette’s Creek Gun Club Connor’s Marsh Rex Dover Rex 14 Club Roberta Stewart Wildlife Area St. Clair National Wildlife Area: St. Clair wetlands, Bear Creek
As well as protecting valuable natural features already on the land, a major part of DUC’s conservation program involves restoration of wetland habitat in areas where they have been degraded or removed. Wetland restoration projects rely on engineering designs and the construction of infrastructure (dikes, water control structures, etc.) to bring these wetlands back to health. The seven projects benefitting from this investment were approaching, or have surpassed, the end of their normal lifespan. This investment enables DUC to repair and maintain vital coastal wetland habitat, and is a major step forward in sustaining biodiversity and preserving these natural heritage resources long into the future.
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O n ta r io Shor ebi r d s
Ontario Shorebirds Various Makers and Species Circa 1900 50
Southam family member shorebird hunting Toronto Waterfront over the family rig, circa 1900
The fact that little is known about the carvers of the Ontario shorebirds does not detract from the importance and beauty of the forms that were created in this isolated shorbird hunting region, away from the eastern shore board. While Manhattan had Long Island and New Jersey to supply plumage for the millinery trade the fashionable elite of Toronto were also hungry for their share of fancy hats and pins during the Victorian era. Shore birds were abundant and the sportsman of the day created shorebird decoys to lure them.
With his popgun safely broken and a basket filled with spent shells, Herb Southam helps carry home the day’s bag. Thomas Southam Jr.’s photographs are a fine record of life both on the Toronto islands and along Ashbridge’s Bay, circa 1900
East ern On t a r i o H i g hl i g h t s b y i ndi vidual mak ers By the early nineteen eighties, a modest fraternity of decoy enthusiasts, including duck hunters, folk art collectors, and antique dealers, had been actively collecting and researching Ontario decoys for many years. Around this time, Peter Brown, a successful Vancouver, BC, businessman, a serious collector and promoter of Canadian art, became interested in Ontario decoys. During the next few years, his business acumen, and collector’s shrewdness, enabled him to build an impressive assembly of Ontario decoys. Some time in the late nineties, I had the good fortune to view his collection. I doubt there will ever be a more comprehensive group of quality Ontario decoys in one place again. From my collecting focus, Eastern Ontario, most known carvers were well represented, usually by several species. The decoys of Bud Tully (Peterborough,) the Smiths Falls Nichol family, Harve Davern (Brighton,) Ray Andress (Gananoque,) Billy Ellis (Whitby,) Wm. Chrysler (Belleville,) Wayne Shaddock (Trenton,) Bob Burke (Wolfe Island,) Jim Duncan (Smiths Falls,) the Rundles (Bloomfield, PEC) and many more had made the more than 2 000 mile migration to Peter Brown’s display room in Vancouver. The impact of Peter Brown collecting Ontario decoys has had a major positive effect, elevating their status, appreciation and value. I believe, the current public dispersal of the collection by auction will have a similar effect. I am delighted that, rather than let them disappear into institutional storage—the ultimate destination of some of these decoys, you have chosen to recycle your impressive collection this way, giving current and future collectors the opportunity, excitement and enjoyment of adding the decoys to their collections. - Bernie Gates
Photo of Sam Hutchins holding a merganser he carved in 1920.
The Chrysler family in the 1890s. Seated: Charles (father), Blanche (sister) and Mary (mother). Standing: Jessie (sister) and Bill. Credit: “The County Decoys,” Jim Stewart
Adam, (left) and David K. Nichol encamped on Sand Island on Rideau Lake. The brothers not only hunted together, but also cooperated on the design of their decoys
Bud Tully, circa 1945
Angus was a salesman, road maintenance supervisor and later a farmer and tourist operator in Prince Edward County in Eastern Ontario. He was an avid sportsman including waterfowl hunting. He probably made his black duck decoys around 1900. Some are in unusual poses best illustrated by one of his extremely rare and important swimming pose hen black ducks pictured.
Angus J. Lake West Lake, Ontario 1872-1957 Black Duck
This highly stylized decoy with cross hatched carving and raised delineated primary feathers represents Sam’s finest early work. Aquatic vegetation eating “Hoodies” were considered fine table fare in the early 1900’s in eastern Ontario. These diminutive, pocket-size Merganser decoys are unique, rare, important and prized by folk art and decoy collectors throughout North America.
Sam Hutchings Jones Falls Ontario 1894-1995 Hooded Merganser
A very large wolf was shot at the Stop Log Camp, 1940s. Rear, left to right: Clayt Hyatt, Angus Lake, Butch Stacey. Front left to right: Ken Hyatt, Hubert Mann, Elwood Munroe. “The County Decoys,” Jim Stewart
Bud Tully 61
Fred Croat. “The County Decoys,” Jim Stewart
Sam Huthings (right) and Albert Hutchings (left) c. 1912. “David Nichol,” Larry Lunman
William Chrylser 62
Bob May, circa 1930s.
Jess Baker, left.
Buck Crawford, pictured top right Photo Credit Larry Lunman
The Nichol Brothers, David K. (standing) and Adam (sitting) early 1890s. Nichol Family Photo
D.W. Nichol 69
A Ducks Unlimited Canada Conservation Story from Ontario
ProjeCt sPotLight: AtoCAS bAy, eAStern ontArio
our decoy purchase helps to support important habitat initiatives in threatened landscapes, like the Atocas Bay site near Ottawa in eastern Ontario. Atocas Bay is a rolling 2,000-acre property used for forestry and farming in the past. The result is a landscape dotted by hundreds of drained wetlands. With financial help through the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture Program, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) purchased the initial block of land in 2000. The 1,700acre property included more than 240 wetland basins representing much of the key wetland habitat remaining in the entire landscape. In 2002 DUC completed a second land acquisition on three properties next to the originally purchased lands, bringing the total project lands to almost 2,000 acres. Once DUC secured the lands, wetland restoration began. Efforts to restore the drained wetlands on the properties ranged from plugging a ditch with clay material, to constructing small earthen dikes with various types of water control structures, to implementing a variety of water management options. Over the years and as funds were available, DUC has restored more than 200 small, medium and large wetland basins.
This project also shows how agriculture and wildlife habitat management can work together. DUC added some environmentally friendly agricultural practices on the property, including cattle exclusion fencing, rotational grazing, alternative livestock watering sources and delayed haying to reduce wildlife mortality. The result is the creation of a habitat complex that benefits local wildlife and migratory waterfowl and improves water quality. The wildlife response to the improved habitat has been remarkable â€“ breeding duck numbers have increased 24-fold. Results show a significant positive response by waterfowl, especially from mallards, black ducks and green-winged teal. The Atocas Bay wetland restoration project is one of DUCâ€™s premier wetland restoration demonstration sites. DUC will continue to showcase this remarkable project in the future, showing the benefits of wetlands, how to restore wetlands and demonstrating beneficial agricultural stewardship practices that make wildlife and agriculture compatible.
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Q u ebe c
Alain MacDonald Previously attributed to Robert Paquette Montreal, Quebec Redhead 72
Quebec, The carvings of Lower Canada
Although the skyline of Montreal looms ever closer to the hunting shacks and duck boat slips at Verdun, Quebec’s water fowling tradition still thrives. The St. Lawrence River continues to support the weed beds that have attracted annual migrations of waterfowl for centuries, and the customary hunting grounds around Ils Des Soeurs and Ile Verte, just a few minutes from traffic jams of downtown Montreal, are active each fall. The carved wooden decoy has disappeared from the province’s water ways, to be replaced by modern plastics, and the birds originally purchased by hunters are now sought by collectors. From Traditions in Wood, Patricia Fleming
Bill Cooper after a good day’s hunt
When Peter Brown first appeared on the Canadian decoy scene in the 1980â€™s, it soon became apparent he was no ordinary collector. In relatively short time, he put together the most comprehensive Canadian collection ever assembled. Quebec is very well represented with several iconic examples. From the Valleyfield region, a very rare Hormidas Thibert merganser hen, one of two known, and arguably his finest work. Also from Valleyfield, some very fine examples by Orel LeBoeuf, including a pair of mint bluebills, originally purchased from his neighbor and benefactor, and an extremely rare hen wood duck, possibly unique. From the Verdun / Montreal school, an oversize Bill Cooper black duck as well as the extraordinary redhead drake by Alain MacDonald, one of Quebecâ€™s finest decoys. These are only several examples of an exceptional collection fresh to the market after some thirty years and available to a new generation of collectors. Jamie Stalker
Adam (left) and David K. Nichol encamped on Sand Island on Rideau Lake. The brothers not only junted together but also cooperated on the design of their decoys
A Ducks Unlimited Canada Conservation Story from Quebec
ProjeCt sPotLight: MArAiS Aux MASSetteS
arais aux Massettes in the Outaouais region is one of Quebec’s most significant wetland areas. But old and outdated infrastructure was putting it at risk of drying up. Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) had to find a strategic – and sustainable – way of restoring its natural beauty and functions. the Challenge The site is surrounded by wetlands and wildlife that biologists didn’t want to disturb. This made carrying out a major project like this a complex undertaking. the Solution DUC concluded that the solution lay in the cold of winter. During the five harshest weeks of winter, the team rebuilt the levee and set up a new water level control structure. Winter conditions created a solid
driving surface on which to carry 1,000 truckloads of clay taken from the outskirts of the marsh. As well, the noise from hydraulic shovels didn’t disturb the wildlife, which was asleep under the ice or had migrated. the result With the new structure up and running by spring, the marsh was able to reach its full potential once the weather warmed up. Today, the restored Marais aux Massettes continues to support extraordinary biodiversity that delights nature lovers and hunters.
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M a ritim e Pr ovi nces H i g h l i g h t s b y i ndi vidual makers The Canadian Maritime Provinces, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, have produced an exciting abundance and variety of decoys. Here, we find people traditionally preoccupied with the sea, which greatly influenced the waterfowl hunting and the carving style. Early Mic Mac Indian root head goose decoys, market gunning, and the later influence of sportsmen from the United States, also played a role in the types of decoys produced here.
In Nova Scotia we find a concentration of decoys for hunting black duck, merganser, seaducks, and even loons for use either near the saltwater shore or for use several miles out on the rocks and shoals. Nova Scotiaâ€™s Eastern Shore, South Shore, and islands like Tancook Island out in the Mahone Bay, are famous for the unique styling of decoys that were made to be used here.
Stan Sawler Pair of Mergansers 83
Malpeque Bay, Prince Edward Island
Amateur “Mat” Savoie
Prince Edward Island decoys usually are goose, brant, and shorebirds. Market gunners and out of province sportsmen, using flat bottomed decoys, hunted geese and brant that came in to feed on the eel grass on the mud flats. Later, as the eel grass died off, the geese were more often hunted in the cornfields using full bodied standing decoys. Many shorebird decoys were produced for use on the shores of Malpeque and New London Bays. On New Brunsickâ€™s Tabusintac Bay a number of hunting clubs catered to sport hunters using sink box rigs of goose, brant, and black duck. Hunters also used field goose decoys and the Mic Mac tradition of using a stylized stick in a mound of seaweed for goose hunting near the beaches.
In August of 1883, this hunting party - complete with guides, dogs, and a camp cook were prepared for a shoot on the tidal flats of the Kensington shore of Malpeque Bay.
A Ducks Unlimited Canada Conservation Story from Prince Edward Island
ProjeCt sPotLight: woLFe inLet
oting a bag of decoys, his shotgun, and going “wherever my dirt bike could take me,” Jonathan Platts hunted for geese every fall as a teenager growing up in western Prince Edward Island. When Platts was about 15 years old, his friends started taking him waterfowling at Wolfe Inlet, a large salt marsh near Glenwood, P.E.I. There, he found whole new world. “The number of ducks at the marsh was amazing to me,” says Platts, now a Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) conservation specialist. “I’d take my dad’s truck and drive out to Glenwood and pick up my buddies. We’d have to stop in to see an old fella who lived out there to borrow his decoys because we couldn’t afford floaters of our own.” Wolfe Inlet is one of the largest remaining intact salt marshes on the island, and it’s a special place. It’s host to a diverse variety of species of wildlife such as black ducks, shorebirds, gulls and raptors, and plants like spartina and eel grass.
That’s why in 2014, DUC purchased a 73-acre marshland and upland swath of Wolfe Inlet to conserve an important and biodiverse piece of coastal habitat – for the wildlife that call it home, and for people like Platts, who have come to treasure its natural riches. As a DUC conservation specialist, Platts has a more scientific appreciation of the coastal ecosystem today. But that appreciation is still fondly coloured by the time he spent on the marsh as a kid – hunting rabbit on the upland area in winter, and in summer canoeing or digging clams, watching eel fisherman and oyster farmers farther out (the stench of the marsh’s black mud lingering in his nose for days). No matter how many times he’s visited Wolfe Inlet, it’s always revealing itself to Platts in different ways. “I appreciate it for its diversity. I’ve seen how storm surges affect the shoreline; how the sandhills move from west to east with prevailing currents,” says Platts. “You can go one night during a storm and the marsh will look like it’s part of the ocean, and the next day it’ll be barren with exposed salt pans, and full of birds.”
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Wes t Coast
Percy Bicknell Richmond, British Columbia Pintail 94
The waterfowling tools and traditions of Eastern Canada were late to arrive in Western Canada. The railroad expansion into Vancouver in 1890 brought with it a population explosion and accompanying that, followed demand for waterfowl in the markets. Puddle ducks and divers were easily hunted in the calm salt water marshes, away from the rigors of the open sea. Light weight decoys, even hollow could be used effectively and provided great visibility for migrating flocks.
Harold Percy Bicknell releases both decoy and anchor line and adds another block to the rig surronding his duck boat
Harold Percy Bicknell, the West Coastâ€™s master carver. His decoys served as models for hundreds of copies
A Ducks Unlimited Canada Conservation Story from British Columbia
ProjeCt sPotLight: on-FArM pLAnning in the FrASer deLtA
ituated at the mouth of the Fraser River Delta, many in British Columbia know Westham Island as home to the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary and Alaksen National Wildlife Area. It is also home to Abtar Singh’s organic vegetable farm, one of a few farms in British Columbia supplying organic produce to local stores. Abtar is one of the first partners of Ducks Unlimited Canada’s (DUC) On-Farm plan in the area. Abtar, known as Ab, joined the On-Farm plan in 2003, and began a model partnership with DUC that now spans decades. The agreement gives him the funding he needs to pay for the expensive machinery and staff needed to run the farm to its full potential. He also receives help from DUC in the form of science-based recommendations for advanced solutions for cover crop types, ditching, and manure application; all customized to the requirements of his specific farm. In return, DUC plants a winter cover crop on his farm, alternating barley and wheat. The cover crops
provide food and a safe place to rest for the over one million migrating birds who use the Fraser River Delta as a stopover along their migration path, as well as supports the almost five million shorebirds that call the area home. A long-term commitment is necessary to benefit both the farmer and conservation goals in the area. Partnerships like the one DUC has with Ab combines resources and provides a far greater pooling of quality waterfowl habitat than DUC, or any other conservation organization, could ever hope to achieve on its own. Ab Singh can see the fruits of his dedication to the partnership, when snow geese use his winter crops to refuel during their migratory journey. “The Canada geese and snow geese would give this partnership a two thumbs up,” Ab says. DUC is grateful to partners on the land like Ab, and hope others will follow in their conservation-forward footsteps to help provide sustainable food for people and for waterfowl.
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A Ducks Unlimited Canada Conservation Story from Manitoba
ProjeCt sPotLight: deLtA MArSh
t was occupied by First Nations peoples for centuries, and formed a part of an early fur trade route. In later years, farmers settled nearby. It was a place where boys went with their fathers to marvel at a sunrise on a quiet spring morning. It welcomed Hollywood stars like Clark Gable, who sought it out for its reputation as world renowned waterfowl hunting grounds. And its reputation as a northern Serengeti offered research and teaching opportunities for generations of waterfowl and wetland biologists and academics from across North America. It was, and remains, the beloved Delta Marsh: the largest freshwater coastal marsh in North America, located on the south shores of Lake Manitoba. But invasive foreign species like the common carp, and nearby agricultural and development projects, have jeopardized the marsh’s biodiversity in recent years. Thanks to Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and its partners, efforts to return Manitoba’s historic Delta Marsh back to its former glory are working. Much of the marsh’s decline has to do with the invasive common carp, a fish species that uses it for feeding and spawning activities. As bottom feeders, carp rake the sediments of the marsh as they search for food. In their wake, they leave
a cloudy trail that makes it almost impossible for the sun to penetrate the water. This has had a negative impact to the marsh’s water quality and vegetation. In 2013, DUC, in partnership with Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, undertook an infrastructure project that introduced dikes and steel carp exclusion screens in three areas where channels connect Delta Marsh to Lake Manitoba. Each spring, fish migrate to the marsh from the lake to spawn and feed. DUC staff place exclusion screens in the water after native fish have arrived, and just before the carp appear. These strong steel bars prevent carp from entering Delta Marsh. Dikes built in and around the screens also keep the invasive species from sneaking around the structures in times of high water levels and wind. DUC and its partners saw a quick and positive response in the vegetation and water quality that they hadn’t seen in years. Thanks to their ongoing efforts, Delta Marsh continues to be an essential wetland for migrating waterfowl, including canvasbacks.
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All references for Canadian Decoys “Decoys of Maritime Canada,” Dale and Gary Guyette.
“Traditions In Wood”, Patricia Fleming.
“Decoying St. Clair to the St. Lawrence”, Barney Crandell.
“Decoys: A North American Survey,” Gene and Linda Kangas.
“Ontario Decoys,” Bernie Gates.
“Ontario Decoys II,” Bernie Gates.
“Call to the Sky,” Robert Shaw.
“The County Decoys,” James Stewart.
“Decoys of the Mississippi Flyway,” Alan Haid. “Decoys of Southwest Ontario,” Paul Brisco.
“Great Lakes Decoy Interpretations,” Gene and Linda Kangas.
“Waterfowl Decoys of Mississippi and the Lake St. Clair Region,” Clune Walsh and Lowell Jackson.
“David W. Nichol and the Decoys of the Rideau Canal Waterway,” Larry Lunman.
“Decoys of the Thousand Islands,” Jim Stewart and Larry Lunman.
The Peter Brown Collection of Canadian decoys to be sold during the largest gathering of decoy collectors anywhere in North America.
For anyone interested in decoys and other sporting collectibles, the North American Vintage Decoy & Sporting Collectibles Show at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois is the place to be in the spring of 2017.
52nd North American Vintage Decoy & Sporting Collectibles Show April 25-29, 2017 St. Charles, IL
Hosted by the Midwest Decoy Collectors Association, the show was started in 1966 by a small group of dedicated decoy collectors who met in Ottawa, Illinois to reconnect, share stories and trade decoys. Since then the Club has grown to nearly 800 enthusiasts from all walks of life. Our members come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, three Canadian provinces, and even Europe. They write books on collecting, manage auction companies, publish collector magazines, carve world‐class decoys and other folk art, provide appraisal services, and form a core network of knowledge on a variety of sporting collectibles and their history. That humble gathering of collectors in 1966 has grown to become the North American Vintage Decoy and Sporting Collectibles Show – the largest and longest running event of its kind.
Show Week The annual show features a variety of opportunities to learn about and trade in this uniquely American folk art. The nearly weeklong event offers room‐to‐room trading; a tabled show in the resort’s large exhibit hall with over 300 dealers; and a major decoy auction by Guyette & Deeter, the world’s leading decoy auction firm.
All told over 30,000 items we will be offered for sale through the week including sporting art, fishing lures, duck calls, animal traps, ammunition boxes, and, of course, antique and contemporary working decoys. The show week also includes a variety of educational activities including seminars, displays and carving demonstrations.
Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, Illinois The show takes place at the Pheasant Run Resort, conveniently located in peaceful St. Charles, IL. Pheasant Run’s 250‐acre Chicago country property is one of the largest entertainment, conference center, and family vacation resorts in all the Midwest. For more than 50 years, it has offered a unique combination of onsite entertainment, recreation, delicious dining, and sprawling venues that have established it as a midwestern treasure. This countryside property offers apartment‐style suites, a theater, live comedy, diverse dining options, 18 holes of golf, tennis, and swimming. Reservations for the show can now be made by calling the Resort at 630‐584‐ 6300 St. Charles, Illinois is known for its proximity to Chicago's big city perks, but with all the grace and charm of a small town. It’s quaint downtown features wonderful array dining, shopping, entertainment and antiquing opportunities. The Midwest Decoy Collectors Association is a nonprofit, educational organization whose mission is to foster the hobby of decoy collecting by attracting new collectors, seeking out and preserving old decoys, gathering information about the old carvers and their methods, and holding an annual show for decoy collectors and carvers. To join online go to midwestdecoy.org, or call 586‐530‐6586.
Published on Jan 4, 2017
Guyette & Deeter, Inc. and Ducks Unlimited Canada present the Peter Brown Collection. The largest collection of Canadian decoys to ever be o...