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Nanaimo Historical Society Fonds
Series 2 Sound Recordings
Tape 25A & 26B
Transcribed by Lois Park in September 2008
Talk by John W. Hardcastle – Given before the Nanaimo Historical Society September 17, 1968
A recording of an address, an address which was full of good humor, presented by Mr. J. W. Hardcastle, noted marine artist.
Mr. A. W. S. Kennedy introduced Mr. Hardcastle to the assembly. Dr. R. E. Forester extended the appreciation of all present for the interesting talk. Mr. Don Schon, President of the Historical Society, made several references during Mr. Hardcastle’s talk.
This recorded address by Mr. J. W. Hardcastle, a noted marine artist and a citizen of Nanaimo for many years, was presented before Nanaimo Historical Society in the lecture room of the Centennial Museum September 17, 1968 before a capacity audience.
John Hardcastle: Are you all ready?
Don Schon: What did you want to say about Archie [Kennedy]?
John Hardcastle: I was going thank my friend Mr. Kennedy for making his introduction short because I was a little bit scared that he was going to overdo it by praising me up too much and I would probably couldn’t live up to expectations. [Laughter] And then another thing, I would like to thank my friend Mr. Cass, the newspaper account tonight said that Mr. Hardcastle had collected quite a lot of information about Nanaimo. But I am afraid that I don’t know very much about Nanaimo, as I said to Mr. Cass, I have lived in this city for 40 years and a tourist stopped me downtown the other day and he asked me what time the pubs opened and I couldn’t tell him. [Laughter]
So the way I have it figured out is that if I can’t tell a tourist what time the pubs open, you can’t rely on me very much for any authentic information about this old Nanaimo. [Laughter]
That’s the way it goes, we just let it go at that. Thank you very much for doing me the honor of asking me to come down here and say something about myself. I asked my friend here what the subject was going to be, he said “Jack Hardcastle”. “Well”, I said, “Jack Hardcastle knows quite a lot about himself that he would like to tell people and there is a lot of things Jack Hardcastle knows about himself that he wouldn’t like anybody else to know”. [Laughter]
Don Schon: Jack, I wonder if you could start off and tell where you were born and when. Or is it a secret?
Jack Hardcastle: I was born in the little old town of Whitby in the north of England. I remember when I was on television I said that were two very important men that came from Whitby, one was Jack Hardcastle and the other was Captain Cook, the man who discovered Vancouver Island. While I tell myself that your are probably a little bit egotistical claiming affinity with Captain Cook but I know somebody else who has more claim to having anything to do with Captain Cook then I have and that was a fellow from Hawaii he was wandering around Whitby and somebody asked him what he wanted to see. “Well,” he said, “I want to see Captain Cook’s house’. “Well,” he said, “Why do you want to see Captain Cook’s house for?” “Well”, he said, “I’ll tell you, I’m part of Captain Cook”. “Oh, well how do you make that out?” “Well, my Grandfather ate him.” [Laughter] So I can assume from that the fellow has more claim to affinity then Captain Cook and I have.
Don Schon: Jack, in Whitby, what did your parents do? What ..
Jack Hardcastle: Well, my parents were ship owners. My father had seven brigs. And the old gentleman you know, steam was just coming in then and my mother was a pretty shrewd business woman, as a matter of fact, I think all the intelligence that the Hardcastle family ever had I think the female of the species had it. [Laughter] I take credit for nothing. [Laughter]
There is no doubt about it she was a pretty shrewd businesswoman and she was consistently asking my father to get rid of those sailing ships. But the old gentleman wasn’t having anything like that, no sirree!, if he saw s stick of smoke on the horizon he said those damn old teakettles. “He says, “Just give me a bit of God Almighty wind”, he says, “and I’ll show them how to froth the North Sea”. [Laughter]
But anyway the old gentleman, of course, has gone aloft and when he died Mom sold the steamers – sold the sailing ships and bought steamers. But when I was young, I was consistently painting. I think some say I was born with salt water in my brains but I also think I was born with a paintbrush in my hand too. But my dear old mother, she didn’t like to see me painting. As soon as I brought my paints out she would say, “never be one of them artists, John, you’re a poverty stricken boy”. [Laughter]
And I will tell you there have times in my eclectic career when I think that there has been quite an element of truth in that. [Laughter] But I remember the reason why my mother was so prejudiced against artists was that there used to be an old gentleman go across the house, his name was Morgan. Now, poor old Morgan I guess he, he was what my mother called a poor stricken artist.
In those days, if you were and artist of any ability and you wanted to get rid of it the only way was do was put on an exhibition, you couldn’t commercialize or anything and it was a pretty tough proposition selling a picture. Why even now I meet people in my travels and when they ask what I do for a living I say, “Oh, I’m painting pictures”. I can see the look of sympathy come in their faces. [Laughter]
Then a fellow says to me “well what do you do already?” “Well”, I said, “I paint ships”. “Oh, that must be a tough job”, he says, “Getting over the side of the damn ships”. [Laughter] He wasn’t talking about art.
When I go around to sell a picture, the first question they ask, “have you any art training”? Well I have had art training, I have the proud distinction of being the first man to right no parking on the sidewalks of Nanaimo [Laughter]
If anybody asks me where I got my art training I tell them that’s it boy. I owe a debt of gratitude to the City of Nanaimo for coming to the conclusion that because I could paint a ship I could write “no parking” on the sidewalks. In fact, I was doing that one-day and a fellow says to me, he says, “Hey you employed on that job”? And I said, “I certainly am”. He says, “Are you a sign writer for the city”? “Well”, I say, “I am pretend”? He says, “Well, I wish I was a sign writer”? I said, “So do I and I wouldn’t be doing this for a living”. [Laughter]
But anyway we will get back to this Captain Cook. I said I was born in Whitby.
Don Schon: Oh yes, Whitby is in Yorkshire, isn’t it?
Jack Hardcastle: Yes. Well, that’s something else I would like to tell you. Everybody knows or at least they should know that the Yorkshire men chief characteristic is his extreme modesty. And I don’t mind telling you that I am very well endowed with that. [Chuckles] So if I say anything that sounds kind of egotistical, well, you will just have to take it for granted or take it with a pinch of salt. It doesn’t make any difference.
Don Schon: What was the main occupation in Whitby?
Jack Hardcastle: I didn’t have any occupation at all.
Don Schon: No, I mean the main concern of the town.
Jack Hardcastle: Oh, the main concern of that little town of Whitby was shipping. It seems almost incredible when you think of it. It had a population of 12,000 people and I was only looking through Lloyd’s Register the other day and I discovered that there was 12,000 people and 16 million pounds invested in shipping. That’s all it was in that town but the poor old town has changed, it is like everything else I don’t know just exactly what happened to it I haven’t been there for a long time. My wife and I were over three or four years ago and we haven’t been there for about 40 years and all these mansions that rich and wealthy ship owners used to live in, they have signs in the windows – bed and breakfast for visitors. So there what has fallen my countrymen.
That was Whitby. But, my mother, of course, she didn’t, I wasn’t going to be an artist there was no question about that, so I went to sea but my mother. I had another twin brother that went to sea at the time and my mother didn’t want two sons at sea so she got me persuaded to stay behind and I never did any good since. [Chuckles]
As a matter of fact, ever since I can remember, everybody said about Jack Hardcastle that fellow will never be any good. All he is good for is drawing ships, he doesn’t know anything else. It is just like I think if I said when I first came out to Canada when to work on the dear old farm down in Quebec for $6.00 a month. From three o’clock in the morning until nine o’clock at night and I know when I went there first the old farmer he began to give me the cross examination, he asked me if I knew this about the farm and this about the farm. No, I didn’t know anything about it all. “Well”, he says, “I’ll tell you”, he says, “You are just like the rest of the goddarn Englishmen that come out here”, he says, “You got a dang big box and a damn big appetite and you don’t know nothing”. [Laughter]
And I am telling your right now if anybody says to me you don’t know nothing and I wouldn’t put up a bit of an argument with them.
I got a bang out of this old farmer I must tell you this about him, I worked for him for about two months and then I thought maybe I as how I was getting a little knowledge about it I had better ask him for a raise in wages. Holy mackerel! Anything more preposterous then an a god-darn Englishman asking a two bit farmer for a raise of wages. You could see the tears come to that fellows eyes, he was trembling with emotion, my, he says, “You know”, he says, “When you talk to me like that it sounds like ingratitude”. [Laughter] “You ask me for a raise in wages”, he says, “What is that but ingratitude”. Then he turns to his wife, “You and your gol-darn Englishman”, he says, ‘didn’t you come out here to learn farming”. I said, “Of course, I did”. “Well”, he said, “That’s where the ingratitude comes in”. He says, “You came out here to learn farming and I give you a lesson for sixteen hours a day and you aren’t satisfied”. [Laughter] “Well”, he says, “that’s ingratitude of the worst kind”. [Laughter]
[inaudible section] I was on a ship out there doing Christmas duty and I see one of the apprentices there and the mate had given him a work up job. Because he had evidently neglected some sort of duty and he was going to be taught a lesson and the mate had thought instead of giving him [?] well put him to work and he had painting. And I just happened to walk past this young fellow and he turned up to me and boy what he didn’t tell me about that mate wasn’t worth knowing, he was the gol-darned this and that and the other. And I said to him, “You know”, I said, “When you talk to me like that it kinda sounds like ingratitude”. [Laughter] He said, “What do you mean”? “Well”, I said, ‘didn’t you join this company”, I said, “For the sole purpose of learning the fine art of seamanship”? He said, “Well, of course I did”. “Well”, I said, “that’s where the ingratitude comes in mister”. I said, “that chief mate thinks your lessons last sixteen hours a day instead of [?]”. I was the most hated man on that ship. [Laughter] Well, there you go anyway.
Don Schon: Jack, maybe you could just give us a little idea what, as a boy in Whitby, what kind of activities you would pursue or can you recall many – much of Whitby and what you did there as a youngster?
Jack Hardcastle: Well there wasn’t much we did there as youngsters [?] come home from schools, here is a picture of Whitby that maybe too small for you to see it here. That’s right. We use to come along here and you can [?] we use to run up and down the masts there. You had to have a race up the mast, you had to go up here and then go out on it and come back and so on until you got to the top. And when you got to the top, you had to come down the other side and do the same all the way down and one of my friends there, [Calbit?] they called him, he just had more relative clout, he had more guts then I did because on the top of that mast is a ball and it is only about a foot long in circumference, he use to get up there and stand on his feet and wave his arms. [Laughter]
Don Schon: And you would cheer him on.
Jack Hardcastle: Then of course, this ship here, that is the famous [Don Rock?] she was practically one of the finest type of ship that they ever built on the Clyde and when she was, she has a connection with British Columbia because when this company began to sail those ships they Vancouver Island Tug and Barge bought them. They took the masts and everything out of her and turned her into a log barge and she was hauling logs from Tahsis I think it was and she got away from tug and broke her back.
But the reason why I painted that ship was, I had a chap come in and ask me to paint a big picture of her and he had a lot of canvas and he was going to give me the canvas as part payment but I wouldn’t accept that. I said, I would it on the floor and keep the paint off the hardwood floor. But when I got through, he says, well I’ll give you that junk and he gave it to me and I rolled it up and threw it in the basement. And I was passing it one day and I thought well I’m damned if I don’t go back sixty oh it must be seventy years [?] I go back and a friend of mine that I went to school with, [Peter Thomson?] served his time on this particular ship and he was my sister’s hero. They called him [?] in Whitby because he was captain of all those Whitby [?] coming through the Bay of Biscaye he sank three submarines. But he was as I said this [Peter Thomson?] he was kind of a boogie of the school when we went to school, his favorite pastime when he got tired of swimming in the salt water he used we got and swim in the fresh water and of course, we just went in as were in nature and [Peter Thomson?] pastime was grabbing the youngsters and throwing them into the nettles and throwing them in the bramble bushes with no clothes on, he thought that was fun. But, of course, he couldn’t interfere with me because I was a twin and where there was one there was the other and of course, I had the balance of power in my favor on account that.
But I was [??] got me to paint of his ship, he was serving his time on and he was bemoaning the fact to me while his ship was coming through the Bay of Biscayne homeward bound from Australia the skipper [?] had all the apprentices over the side painting the rust off her so she would look good going up the English Channel and I looked at this piece of canvas [?] because he had brought me a piece of sailcloth and has asked me to paint him a picture of his ship. Mind you I wasn’t painting like that when I was sixteen. But anyway I painted a picture of his ship for him and [painted with steel with the paint locker on the ship you know and a piece of sail cloth] and I painted a picture of his ship. Well, as I passed this piece of canvas, you know [?] came into my mind and I thought damned if I had know back 60 or 70 years and [?] I’d build the ship for my self so I painted the Don Rock. I gathered up this canvas and I took it upstairs there and I give it three or four coats of paint and I paint the picture of and all the time I’m painting it I was thinking of [Gilbert?] Of course my sister was always holding him up to me and what a man should really be. Gilbert eventually finished up as a fellow of the Royal Geographically Society VSO member of the British Empire, freeman of the city of London and goodness know what. My sister was always consistently writing to me and telling me how far Gilbert had got and I stood still, I never got anywhere. Finally she wrote to me and told me that Gilbert had passed on. And I wrote back and said I’m very much regretted the lose of my esteemed friend but I said, Gilbert is gone and I said he is six feet underground and he is lying still and Jack Hardcastle is still standing and I would just as soon see Jack Hardcastle standing still then Gilbert [?] [Laughter]
So that is why I [?] the picture. I don’t know how many times I have painted it but it has prominent place in the house. When you come in it is the first thing you see. Don’t forget that I told you that my chief characteristic is extreme modesty. [Laughter]
Who was the big people there in Vancouver there in one of the plays there – the prima-donna , her husband, he is collecting pictures of ships and they came over and he saw that picture on the wall and he sat in the chair in front of it and he said he wouldn’t go out of the house until he got it. As a matter of fact, he had quite a collection of my pictures and he said to me, he says, You know, Jack, he says, I have got more pictures of yours then anybody else’s. Well, I said, why don’t you leave that on the wall then? He says, no, he says I’ll not go out now until I get it. Well, I said, all right then but the minute you get it, boy, I’m hiking up to the paint shop and I’ll paint another one. So I gave it to him right but [?] in a week or so. I’m not [?]. [Laughter]
I can sit down and paint thousands of ships but I can’t paint $20.00 bills, and even if I did, you know [Laughter] the dang Mounted Police don’t like it if you do that kind of thing. And I’d be something the [?] the only reason why I’m talking here is so that my name with other old timers I suppose can be handed down to posterity you see right through that machine, yes.
Which reminds me, see now I am going to switch off again, you see. Which reminds of a friend of mine in Whitby called [Bill Mole?], now he had a son there [George?] and [George?] he was one of those strong silent men, he never, very very seldom spoke you know. If you, he might say yes and he might say no but ten to one change he [??] Well, eventually of course [George?] joined the navy and [??] and one thing and another and I was talking to [Bill Mole?] and I said to Bill, I was sorry to hear about [George?]. I, he says, everybody liked old [George?] he never said note. Well that’s the way I should go [????]. [Large section that is inaudible]
Don Schon: Jack
Jack Hardcastle: I’ll tell you who did I say there are times you know when silence [??] in my hectic career that I’d have been better off if I had never said note.
Don Schon: I guess we all would be.
Jack Hardcastle: Yeah, because I remember one time I was out at Mission gathering berries and I am telling you that when you were down to going out to Mission to gathering berries you really need the money. And the girl that was the collecting the berries when you brought your berries down the girl weighed them well that girl had my destiny in her hands. And I can if the berries are all ripe collect some money for them if they weren’t you telling you to [??] less. Well, I came down here with my berries and I see this girl with her head to the mirror and kind of preening herself and she says to me, she says, Don’t you think I look like [?] from beyond? Well, I couldn’t resist the temptation I turned around and I said, maybe you do but you look like hell in front? [Laughter] She said you’re fired.
I told myself you would have been better off if you had been like [George Mole?] and never said no, as I walked home from Mission to Vancouver thinking it over. [Laughter] Even at that I figure it was worth it. [?] Another Yorkshire man too [?inaudible].
This young fellow he was working in big [?] establishment in London and he was a shop walker and this was quite an [?] establishment, [?inaudible] Mickey, of course, [?] he had to show the prospective customers to the different departments that they wanted to go. So this Dowager Duchess came in you know with all the pomp and circumstances [??] and Mickey, of course, he [?] what department did you want? Corsets. Well, he took her to the corset department, now in those, those were the days when every girl envied a 21-inch waist. When we were called upon to get rid of her auspicious occasion, and they called upon us to help them, we use to put the knee in the back, you know, and [??] and take [?] it right down as close as you could. Well, 21 you see was just about the standard, Mickey says to this Dowager Duchess, he says, what size, Madam? She said, 40. He said, 40 Madam we don’t take elephants here. [Laughter] Five minutes after that, boy, Mickey was out on the sidewalk [?] [Laughter] So he would have been better off if he had said no. [Laughter]
Don Schon: Well, Jack; let’s say we get back to painting. [Laughter] Jack, tell me, how did you get started painting?
Jack Hardcastle: Oh, yes. That is a horse of a different color. Well, I’ll tell you what I was doing then. I was firing them boilers up in Swanson Bay hoping to [?] the holes there and the other fellow that was poking [?????] he says to me, he says, you know Jack he says some of these days the boss is coming along to us and he is going to say Hey you stiffs get out of here I’ve got somebody younger he said that can do this job twice as good. Me he says of course I’ll go on to Scotland but you, of course, can paint ships. Oh, he said, If I could paint ships like you, I’d be a millionaire. He says, why don’t you paint some ships and send them down to Toronto to some of those people down there. You could try. Well, I said, all right I’ll do that. I thought boy what a brilliant idea and the fellow really had me thinking on that I could paint mind you. This is thirty years ago maybe. I sent my pictures down to Toronto and then I sat back and waited for that cheque for two thousand dollars to come. I had a speech all made up and I was going right into the boiler room and I was going to tell the chief engineer to take big jump in the lake. [Laughter]
It was a surprise on Jack Hardcastle. He didn’t realize that ambition. The postman threw the parcel in the door way and that was my pictures back and I still have that fellow’s letter, he said that he was returning these picture and as a rule when they sent anything back like that they didn’t make any comments but he was making a favor for me. He wanted to tell me and these are the exact words in the letter “that these pictures were no damn good at all”. And they said the best thing you can do if you are going to into any of these artistic work for heaven’s sake he say, not only get some more training he said but consistently practice for another five years.
Wife says to me “that will fix you mister, that will stop you from painting”. It won’t, I says [inaudible] wear diamonds on cuffs but I am still painting but mind you I don’t see the wife trotting around the house a blaze with diamonds [inaudible] but in any case I am still painting.
Well, I consistently practiced for five years, and I bought a correspondence course, then I wrote down to this fellow and I told him that five years ago he had written me and this and that and the other and I was sending him [inaudible] samples and saying how about giving me a start. He sent me a cheque for $100 for one of the pictures and told me to keep on going and I’ve been going ever since.
That’s what a fellow use to say to me mind you. [Inaudible] A fellow says to me “How can I tell if this is a good picture Jack”? If you took that over to Vancouver and ask a fellow for $10.00 for it and if you get the $10.00 it is a good picture and if he throws it down the damned stairs you need some more practice. [Laughter] Because I said that has happened to me on several occasions. I remember boy come body came to me, oh lots of people come to give me advise on how to sell pictures sure. Somebody come to me says there is a new fellow from Montreal come out to Vancouver and he is going to take charge of all the Pacific steam ship [inaudible] that those three funneled new [inaudible] He says, you go paint some of those pictures he says and take them over there he [inaudible] Captain so and so, he says, he will buy them off you. [Inaudible]
I painted the pictures of the Empress boat anyway and I went over there.
Start of Side Two
[appears that the tape was recorded over something else and then Jack Hardcastle starts talking]
Jack Hardcastle: Of course, that is the secretary, I once; I got use to going around to these places. I use to be; sometimes I use to get more fun trying to sell a picture than I did in painting it.
Anyway, this lion in the path of progress that’s what I called all these young ladies with all due respect to them of course. Say what do you want? I want to see Captain so and so. What do you want to see him for? I have some pictures of his ships. [Inaudible] Well, she says, I don’t know, she says he is about fed up with you fellows coming in and trying to sell him ships. She says but she says I’ll tell him you are here anyway. So I just a waited a minute and out comes this Captain, well I had these pictures all nicely framed in mahogany frames and he says what the hell do you want? Well, I said I have some pictures of your ships here, Captain. And I said I think you should be interested in them. [Inaudible] I looked at him and I thought well boy he’s on the quarterdeck. [Laughter] Well, I showed them to him, he just kind of casually glanced at them. He said, I’m just about fed up, he said, with you fellows coming in here and trying to sell me pictures, he says, you get the hell out of here as quick as you can. And he took the pictures and he threw them across the [inaudible] and I stopped him right there and I said, I thought to myself what will I do with this fellow, shall I tell him just exactly what he gave me, should I just take just as a matter of course. I said, well perhaps, I said anyway I said thanks for the interview, its been very brief I said, and you’ve been emphatic, I said, perhaps another time. Oh, he said, you get the hell out of here and keep out of here. So away I went with the pictures under my arm.
Fortune was smiling on me, I came out of there and the first thing I see is [inaudible] Empress town and pictures of these ships and I thought of the fellow that sold the horses to the army during the Boer war, he went to the officer and the officer said to him look the horses are no good for the army. Well, the fellow says, don’t let that worry you, I’ll tell you what you do, you put them in barrels and salt them and sell them to the navy he said. [Laughter] well, I said, what are you why don’t you go and sell some strawberry jam so I [Inaudible]. That fellow bought pictures off me anyway. That is it.
But here is the peculiar part about that, at that time thanks to my friend Mr. Piper who gave me the idea to [inaudible] life buoys I was painting life buoys for this outfit that comes out of Vancouver well they got down as far a Montreal and the President had seen them and he thought it would be a good idea to have it on the ships going across the Pacific. So he wrote to me and told me to go over with some of these life buoys and see this same chap as had told me not to come back again.
[Laughter] So I came..
Don Schon: Was he glad to see you?
Jack Hardcastle: No, he didn’t recognize me. [Laughter] I went in there and he was mighty busy, he was at his desk there and he didn’t look up and keep on writing and he said “are you the fellow with the [inaudible]? Yes sir I said. Well, just plop yourself day [Inaudible] help yourself to a cigar I will be with you in a minute and I thought what this fellow going to say when he looks up and sees that it’s me. [Laughter]
But he didn’t recognize me anyway. He looked at them and the CPR had sent me some paintings of the CPR ships done by a chap called Norman Wilkinson who at that time was the top of the marine artists in England. Norman Wilkinson, he has done a lot of work for the Hudson Bay Company. And they told me to copy these with Norman Wilkinson had painted the ships coming directly towards you and they were pretty square. So he looked at them, he says, [inaudible] my ships he said. I said, those pictures were sent to me sir, I said, from Montreal and I said, I was expressly told to copy them and I said, those pictures were painted by Norman Wilkinson the foremost marine artist in England. [Inaudible] He said, those ships look like boxes, he says, my ships aren’t boxes, he says, you go down to the wharf there and fix those ships and make them look like ships. I says, [inaudible]. He says, don’t overdo it. When I came back and I showed him those pictures, he said all right he said you going to paint a gross of each of those ships and that’s the finish of it. But suppose I’d turned to that commander and told him just exactly what he had told me ten to one chance I wouldn’t have got [inaudible] so probably that was a good case where I never said no. [Laughter]
Don Schon: Jack, do you want to take a rest for a bit?
Don Schon: Jack, someone mentioned that there was sort of an interesting story about how your mother ran the ships after your father died. Maybe you can
Jack Hardcastle: Of course, my mother just ran a business like [inaudible] that’s about all I know. When the old gentleman died, of course, my mother sold all the brigs and bought two steamers and she got my brother persuaded to leave the sailing ships and go into steamers and he got so fed up with those two steamers that he said he would never go in them again and my mother offered the two steamers to my brother and my humble self. And he turned around and deliberately insulted my dear old mother and she said, well then that’s it, she said, I’ll just sell the ships and turn a profit. But she of course in those days when they had the ships they had what they called the ship’s husbands. The ship’s husband was the fellow that took charge of the ships whilst they were in port waiting to unload [inaudible] and they did all the business. But as far as my mother, the only thing we knew about our mother running the ships was that if there was anything we wanted we always were told to wait until the ships come in. [Laughter] Now if there is anything I want I have got to wait until the ships go out. [Laughter]
Well, anyway, my twin brother he is just like me, he is just a child of circumstance. Where here there and everywhere goodness know where he wasn’t but the last time I saw him it was over here, he was managing a cigarette factory in Shanghai and he use to come over about every three years and the company he was working for the British American Tobacco Company they paid his first class fare to any part of the world he wanted to go to for two months, his wages going on all the same. Well, he came over to see me and he got talking about those two ships and he says, “You know, Jack’, he says, “Oh yes, we were so much alike, twins, but my mother couldn’t hardly tell the difference when we came down stairs in the morning she use to say is it John or is it Charlie? And the only way that she could tell the difference was that I was I was suppose to have a dimple in my chin when I smiled, I don’t know [inaudible] [Laughter] But sometimes I am not quite sure if me or [inaudible].
But as he said to me “Look Jack”, he says, “You and I”, he said, “are so much alike’ he says, “no body can tell the difference”. But, he says, if I want to see a supreme blooming idiot, he says, all I got to do is take a look at you and if I want to see another one I will take a damn good look at you. He says, when I think of those two steamers he said, the dearly old lady offered them, he says but not only that he says, right on the end of your finger tips he says, you had the ability to paint ships ever since you were born and I have the same. You and I [inaudible] period of expansion in the British Merchant Marines, never experiencing before and we just let it go by. But anyway as I said if it wasn’t for providence I come out on top in some mysterious way I am sure I don’t know why. [Laughter]
Don Schon: Jack, You painted in watercolors and oils, which do you like painting best?
Jack Hardcastle: Well, I tell you when it comes to painting ships I just as soon prefer to paint big pictures in oils because I have an idea that in order to get the full life and vigor into a oil painting of a windjammer you have got to paint it big so you can just go right up it you see.
These watercolors, like this, I just sit mind you I like painting watercolors for a break because I can sit down at the table there and just paint them easy. I can sit down and paint just this but those big fellows I have to stand up to paint them and if I want to give myself a break I can switch back onto water colors. I am in the fortunate position of, well, you know what I said about the extreme modesty didn’t you; just bear that in mind for a second.
I am in the fortunate position of being able to paint, to sell, everything I can paint, I just can’t paint ships fast enough. I have one man with a standing order I’ll take everything you can paint. I had an American tourist come up the other day and he said, Jack He says if I had ten thousand dollars that I didn’t know what to do with he says I’d give it to you, he says to get you to paint for me exclusively. I said, Mr. I said, if you put that ten thousand dollars cheque on that table right now and asked me to accept it under those conditions I wouldn’t do it. I said, the minute I do it I would be under obligations and I don’t want to be under any obligations to anybody. So I just like to paint the happy hours away, I want time. Time [inaudible] a fellow downtown the other day stopped me, oh boy, Jack he says, join the union eh. We are going to get a forty-hour week. “Holy mackinaw”, I said, “Can you tell me where the union can get a man a forty hour day’. [Laughter] The thing I want is time.
There is one man in this town and I guess he is in every town and that is the Chief Magistrate. I am like Napoleon you can ask me for anything but my time. I said, there is only one man that I know, I says, he has more time to spare then I have and that is Chief Magistrate and I said if you can qualify he’ll give you ten years anytime you want it. [Laughter] I’m not qualifying for that time at all.
Don Schon: Jack, tell us a bit about the paint you did with Cutty Sark when this fellow opened his museum in the Cutty Sark.
Jack Hardcastle: Oh, yes that of course goes for another reference for the extreme modesty. [Laughter] Yes, I am a member of the Cutty Sark Club in Winnipeg. It is a batch of old windjammers there, sailors, down there you know, they meet occasionally and we got so darn cold talking about reefing top sails and snow squalls up Cape Horn that they have to settle themselves down to hot rum. Well the Cutty Sark is I guess, I don’t know whether you know anything about a Cutty Sark or not but she was one of the first sailing ships that the British every put into the water and she made a lots of record passages in the tea trade and when they open the Suez Canal and the tea trade wasn’t a profitable undertaking then she carried passengers down to Australia. And she was so fast mind you that she could beat the steamers that were down to Australia. So I painted it there, she is going down the English Channel, she is just making sail, here is the passenger ship going to Australia which she beat by a week mind you and she just took the pilot boat, she is just on her stern and the white cliffs in Dover, of course, are in the distance.
Well I painted a similar picture to that for the Cutty Sark club in Winnipeg, well, then when, after a while the poor old Cutty Sark you know she gradually began to deteriorate, the Portuguese got it one time and finally she was bought by one of the old commanders, he got kind of sentimental about her and they anchored her along side the HMS Victory as a memento of the merchant marine. Well they were going to break her up and Prince Phillip got kind of interested in her and he sponsored a collection of ship builders over the world to get a subscription to rebuild the Cutty Sark as she was when she was first launched and he got two hundred and fifty thousand pounds. So they went to work and they revalorized the Cutty Sark and at present she is anchored out side the maritime museum in London. Now, when Queen Elizabeth was going to dedicate it to the nation they wrote to the secretary of the club in Winnipeg and told him to be sure to be there at the ceremony and he thought it would be a good idea to get me to paint a picture of the Cutty Sark to give to the ship. So I painted two and they took them over there and were graciously accepted by Prince Phillip, etc. and the rest of them. But I had an American tourist come up to see me and he says, Say I was on that Cutty Sark there he says you were the fellow that painted two pictures of her and I was asking the commander of the ship he says where is that other picture that that Nanaimo fellow painted. Oh he said Prince Phillip likes ships and he picked one, so you just take that with reference from my extreme modesty. [Laughter] [Applause]
I was going to tell you to accept it with a piece of salt but it happens to be the truth. [Chuckles] for once in a while.
Don Schon: Jack, maybe as, as you telling me a story about this one year, the Hood and the Englishman.
Jack Hardcastle: Oh, yes the HMS Hood. She was in Vancouver there, what year was it, 19 something when her first visit. She came out there with the [Erie Post?]. And I was commissioned to paint, they were going to give the office ball in a Vancouver hotel, and I was commissioned to paint a decorated design for the gun salon and whilst I was busy painting it the pay master of this Hood he was there and he came to me and he said you know I am in quite a quandary. Oh, I said, oh what seems to be your trouble? Well, he says, the boat the ship he says has gone off and I don’t know how I am going to get back to her. Well, I said, you don’t have to let that worry you, I said there are all kinds of ferries going across. Oh, he said, I couldn’t travel on one of the ferries. I said what for? Well he says I would have travel with the common horde. Oh well, I said, don’t let that worry you I said the common horde won’t give a damn anyway. [Laughter] So I painted the Hood anyway.
I really painted that for somebody who was on her, [inaudible] I think that is my fourth time. I took, the signals flying there are the international code of signals the first one is JWH and the other one at the top is the navy flag that is flown when they are going to use the merchant marine signals on the ship instead of the private naval [inaudible] sixty eight so that you are [inaudible] of course, the [inaudible] said to me when I was down in Toronto signing some pictures for, oh those are the ones that want on the back of the exercise book. That’s right, he, I showed him a picture of one ship, and he said where is those sails that he says that dangled out at the side. I thought boy that is some nautical expression that is. [Laughter]
He says, I says, you mean the stanchions? Well he says is that’s what they call them? I says, yes that’s what they are I says but they are light sails. He says, well where are they on this ships? Well, I said, you can’t fly those things, that’s a gale of wind. Well, I said if I paint stanchions on that I said in the first place I said if they were a real ship they won’t last five minutes and I said in the second place if I paint the picture the are going to be all kinds of criticism. Well, he says, never mind the criticism he says where there one knows, there is a million doesn’t know, he says the put the stanchions on them, he says, we don’t give a darn if it takes to the air he says, [comment drowned out with laughter]. So he got his stanchions.
I was like the coal company, ha. The coal company was loading coal in Union Bay, they commissioned me to go down there and paint a picture of that particular ship to put on their calendar. Well, when I went down there it was what as called a “Blue Funnel Liner”. Now the Blue Funnel Line they used that great big blue funnel as a distinctive mark of the company and the ships sat low in the water and the most prominent part about them is that great big blue funnel. You could tell them anywhere.
Okay, I’m off on another tack, I was coming across on the old Elaine once when she first came out, there was just streak on the horizon you could just see it, you could just see that long low hull there and that tremendous big smoke stack and the goal post masts. And the fellow says to me, he says Is there a ship over there? I said yes it is one of the blue funnel line I said it is Talthybius. Well, he looked at me and he says what the hell are you talking about? I am telling you that blue funnel liner and that is a Talthybius I said there is only two blue funnel liners come into Vancouver I said, one is the [Protesilaus?] and the other is the Talthybius I said the Talthybius has got these goal post mast, it is the Talthybius I said you can always blue funnel liner because of the distinctive pattern.
[Laughter] Well, I said, let’s go and see the chief mate and then, the chief mate was in the wheelhouse and I said would you like to let us have you glasses I said. We want to see the ship on the horizon. Oh, he said, the blue funnel liner. [Laugher] I painted this blue funnel liner, it was the [Portesilaus?] and I had the name on it and it got to the photographer to put on the calendar he didn’t like that blue funnel. He said, we don’t want that blue funnel, he said. I said, it won’t make any difference to me but you will have to take the name off that ship I said because everybody knows what blue funnel liner is and if I paint a blue funnel liner said with any color smoke stack somebody will come along and criticize me.
Never mind, he says, put it on. I said, Alright go right ahead and put it on and sure enough just what did happened somebody stopped me and said hey you are some marine artist. [inaudible] You go to work, he says, and you paint blue funnel liner with a yellow smoke stack. He says, What did you do that for? Well, I said, it is military secret, I said. [Laughter] I said the man that wanted me to painted that yellow smoke stack on there, I said, he is a mighty fine [inaudible] and I really need the money, and I said, if you asked me to the pink smoke with black skirts on them I said I would still got them because I wanted that cheque. [Laughter]
I must tell you this other one about criticism. Oh lots of criticism, yes. I was working in a pulp mill up at Swanson Bay. And the ladies of the auxiliary of something were going to give a bazaar; they thought it would be a good idea to get Jack Hardcastle to paint a picture of a ship for the bazaar. So I got one of those commissions [inaudible]. I painted this picture, I painted a picture of a sailing ship but after I painted it, it suddenly dawned upon me that I don’t know whether you understand the technical terms or not but it doesn’t make any difference anyhow. I had put the jib sheets on the wrong side of the forecastle; I thought I had better alter that before somebody sees it. [inaudible] the jib sheets just in case.
Here they are but they are that side that’s where they should be of course but I had them on this side according to where the wind was. But I thought well I had better alter it because there might be some criticism and then I thought well no I if I am going to tinker around with those jib sheets I may as well paint the whole darn thing, so I tell you what I’ll do just for a joke I’ll paint a couple [inaudible] [Laughter] and I said, I’ll paint another fellow coming across here – [inaudible] and if there is any criticism well I can meet it.
Well [inaudible] that’s just what happened a fellow stopped me on the sidewalk there in Swanson Bay and yeah he said you were suppose to be a sailor he says that picture is all wrong. I said how do you make that out? He said you’ve got the jib sheets on the wrong side of the forecastle. I said that doesn’t alter the fact I said that picture is perfectly right. He said how can it be, he says, come on he says, I will show it to you. So we go up to look at this picture, he shows me that the jibs sheets are on the wrong side of the forecastle he said that jib sheets are on the wrong side of the forecastle. I said, That’s alright, I said, that picture is perfectly right, I said see those two fellows in along the main deck there. He says, yes. I said, you see that kind of [?]. He says yes. I said that is an American ship I said that one of those odd case chief mates that goes around the deck with a belay in his [inaudible] for a reflector signal. He is after those two fellows, I says, and they [ drowned out by laughter] Oh he says you son of a b. [Laughter] [Applause]
Well, I think it is pretty near time I stopped, don’t you think?
Don Schon: Very good.
Unknown Speaker: You have about ten minutes left here if you can think of something else.
Don Schon: Has anyone here got any questions that they would like to ask Jack?
Jack Hardcastle: Beg your pardon?
Don Schon: I was just asking if anybody had any questions they would like to ask you.
Jack Hardcastle: Oh me. Well you know [Don Schon tries to say something but Jack talks over him] Well you know …. There is a fellow there when he says when you get stood in front of a that glare of that light from the television he said is it going to hurt your eyes? I said, no I said you can turn any light you like on me but such [inaudible] you can turn the light on me with the exception of the search light of investigation.
[It sounds like the tape recorder was turned off and then turned back on]
Don Schon: You were mentioning that they had you pinned up in the corner.
Jack Hardcastle: Oh, yes they had me pinned up in the corner but I tell you this paint talk of mine which by the way has been facetiously jokingly I should say have been the home of genius but it has been called that by the American tourist. He said he liked [inaudible] and heart breaking competition to Mrs. Hardcastle. She wants to come in there and clean it all up and I said boys oh boys you come in there and touch that paint you are going to get clean up yourself.
I do want to say about Mrs. Hardcastle, I say with extreme modesty of course, I have in some mysterious way gained a reputation as a clever artist. When people say to me does your wife paint? I say no my wife doesn’t exactly paint with brushes, but I said she is one of the finest artists that world has ever produced. Well, how do you make that out? I says Mrs. Hardcastle is a creative artist, she paints the clouds with sunshine for Jack Hardcastle and she creates and atmosphere of happiness and I said if you can find an artist that can beat that you tell me.
Dr. R. M. Forester: Mr. Chairman, Members of the Historical Society: It is really a distinct pleasure to thank Mr. Hardcastle on behalf of the audience here this evening. I know that it is quite what to say because it has been the most unusual address that I have ever listened to. I expected something very airy and very artistic and something that I probably wouldn’t understand but actually it has been the most delightful evening I have ever put in.
Mr. Hardcastle is not only an artist with paints but with words also. And as a racketeer I think he is one of the best and his references to his experiences through out his life time, his wit and his humor and the most delightful way in which he looks upon life, I think has been a distinct pleasure to all of us, not only a pleasure but also it brings home to all of us the fact that after all this is life and there are always jolly and interesting spots in it and we should look on the bright side rather than the gloomy side of things.
Mr. Hardcastle, on behalf of the Historical Society and our guests I would like express our very deep appreciation of your coming here and giving us such a wonderful lesson.
Jack Hardcastle: Thank you very much.
Don Schon: Jack, before you have anything more to say, I have something to say. Jack, you mentioned earlier that there was two famous men that came from your town of Whitby and I don’t know if anybody has written a book about you yet but Mr. Allan Villiers has written a book about Captain Cook. And we would like to give you this book as memento of tonight and to just, when you look at and after you have read it you can think of us and we’d like you to have that.
Jack Hardcastle: Well, Thank you very much. Thank you. [Applause] As I said I come from Whitby, ah, I as a schoolboy played in the yards where Captain Cook’s ships were built and they have a scheme in Whitby where they are going to rebuild this thing and in conjunction with the Australian government they [inaudible] is going to sail to Australia. But they had to give it up because come went wrong with [end]
Jack Hardcastle: …the government had to give because [inaudible]. [Laughter] But anyway thank you very much.
William Barraclough, Secretary of the Nanaimo Historical Society who recorded Mr. Hardcastle’s address adding a post script.
The 28th day of March 1969. Mr. A. W. H. Kennedy introduced Mr. Hardcastle to the gathering and Dr. R. M. Forester expressed the sincere thanks of all those present for his interesting and instructive talk, being enlivened with many humors antidotes. A tape recording of one hour duration is on file. Many large canvas of sailing ships by Mr. Hardcastle were on display.
During Mr. Hardcastle’s adult life sketching and painting sailing has been his avocation, now at the age when most men retire from active life, he receives more commissions then he can produce of technical sailing ships.
Mr. D. Schon, President of the Historical Society presented Mr. Hardcastle with a book entitled “Captain James Cook by Allan Villiers”.
The CBC television session Mr. Hardcastle mentions was produced at his small studio at Nanaimo and when shown on TV program was a delight to witness.
On March 17, 1969, Nanaimo City Council with Mayor and Aldermen in session before a good gathering of citizens, Mr. Hardcastle was presented by Mayor Frank Ney with a souvenir gift in recognition of the valuable publicity Nanaimo has received concerning the marine artist’s pictures of sailing ships.