“Gifts for cottagers: The Native Trees of Canada” / Cottage Life / Michelle / December 12, 2010

As you know, I’m tree obsessed, so no surprise that I was so intrigued when I came across a copy of Leanne Shapton’s beautiful new book of paintings, The Native Trees of Canada ($19.95, Drawn & Quarterly, 2010). Shapton’s book was inspired by her discovery of the classic Canadian text of the same name in Toronto bookstore The Monkey’s Paw. The original Native Trees was published by the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources in 1917, and was purely a reference text, maybe the kind of book you’d find in an century-old cottage where there was once a tree lover in residence. Shapton’s illustrations are considerably more abstract and colourful than the original’s simple line drawings; she used sample pots of Benjamin-Moore and Farrow & Ball house paint to create a slim volume of stark renderings of our Canadian leaves, in rich contrasting colours. There are no words included, other than the names of each species and a short intro from Shapton.

Besides the simple beauty of these images and my love for their subject matter, there’s another reason why I’m inclined to promote Shapton’s work: She is the sister of one of our regular contributors, Derek Shapton. The siblings are something of a powerhouse in the magazine world, Leanne for her work as art director at titles including Saturday Night and the National Post, and Derek for his photography—he most recently was nominated for a National Magazine Award for his work on “Life at the Taxidermy Motel,” which ran in the October 2009 issue of Cottage Life. I’ll definitely be wrapping this one up and placing it under the tree this Christmas for someone special.

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