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Caledon remembers renowned Canadian painter and explorer Cory Trépanier

November 25, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Rob Paul

Caledon lost one of its best on November 5, as internationally renowned artist and filmmaker Cory Trépanier passed away after a battle with cancer.

His death came shortly after the launch of his new book, “Into the Arctic: Painting Canada’s Changing North.”

After spending a decade exploring and painting, Trépanier travelled 60,000 kilometres through six national parks and 16 Inuit communities to capture the landscapes of the Canadian Arctic which led to the creation of over 100 oil painting and three documentaries. 

Trépanier leaves behind his wife Janet—who was a partner in all of his artistic endeavours—and two daughters who drew inspiration from him, with Andie, an artist, and Sydney, an explorer.

“Cory’s adventurous and generous spirit shone brightly, and his legacy will forever continue in the hearts of all who knew him and his work. Cory was and always will be, our North Star,” his family said in a statement. “Cory’s painting expeditions grew in grandeur throughout his life, from the hills of Caledon to the shores of Lake Superior with his young and adventurous family and eventually to the expansive Canadian North. Following in the footsteps of explorers such as the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson, Cory dared to capture some of the most wild and changing place on the planet and graciously shared them with the rest of the world through his art and films.”

Trépanier was the recipient of the Caledon Walk of Fame honour in 2018 for his impact on Canadian art and had also been highlighted as one of Canada’s best explorers by the Canadian Geographic.

He had a long list of achievements and distinctions in his 52 years and had long championed the Caledon community. After coming to Bolton early in his childhood and attending Humberview, he had spent nearly 40 years in Caledon.

Numerous times he credited the Caledon scenery and natural beauty as part of his early inspiration as a landscape artist.

“Caledon isn’t just the place that I grew up, I’ve raised a family here and it’s a place where I really broke into what I’m doing today,” he told the Citizen in June. “It has allowed me to chase my passion of pursuing fine art—and not just to pursue it and make a living with it, but really it’s what inspired my interest in doing my own landscape paintings rather than the commercial art that I was doing at the time. One of the earliest pieces I did outdoors was actually of the hill behind my parents’ place. The beauty of the natural landscape around me has always been integral to my life and career choices.”

Earlier this year to celebrate Canada’s Parks Day, Trépanier made the decision to release his Into the Arctic documentary trilogy for free (A Painter’s Odyssey, Into the Artic, and Into the Arctic II) because he wanted to share his painting journey and the beauty of Canada’s North with all.

“Painting and filming the Canadian Arctic has been challenging and awe-inspiring, bringing me face-to-face with some of our planet’s greatest natural wonders,” he told the Citizen at the time. “These films share that awe, and I hope that they also inspire conversation about the North, the Inuit for who it is home, the power of nature and the importance of humanity’s role in protecting it.”

The coffee table book features almost 100 arctic paintings, sketches, and stories and words from many of the people he crossed paths with in his time as an artist and explorer. 

“Anyone familiar with Cory’s work, or lucky enough to call him a friend, knows that he is, at heart, a journeyman,” said Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdswell at the book launch. “That he is willing to confront any conditions, sail any strait, walk or snowshoe any distance, to go where he must, to tell the stories he is called to share. The COVID-19 pandemic has served to underline such fundamental truths, that we are interconnected, both with natures, and with one another, that so too are we mutually vulnerable. Cory’s beautiful work expresses these connections, and points to an urgent reality: that the work to heal our world—our responsibility—begins right here at home.”

On Saturday, November 20, a Celebration of Life and Legacy was held at the Caledon Town Hall and Community Centre for anyone wishing to pay their respects to Trépanier and his family.

Mayor Allan Thompson took a moment to share his thoughts on Trépanier.

“I want to take a few minutes to talk about Cory’s impact, his contributions, and the legacy he has left for his hometown of Caledon,” he said. “I’m a politician and I’m also a farmer, I have never considered myself someone who understands the art world or the creative process, that was until I met Cory Trépanier. Cory was incredibly gifted at many things, but what stood out about him for me was how he made me feel comfortable in talking about something I believed I knew nothing about: art. In such an incredibly kind and patient way, he helped me to connect to what I was seeing visually by just sharing a story or talking, and that was just in the few times I had the privilege of being in his company. 

“He took us all along on his journeys through his art—it was his gift, and it is his legacy. No matter how far he traveled or how his fame grew, Caledon was home, and he showed his love and support for his community in many ways. Cory shared his work openly at his studio in Caledon, he illustrated the beauty of Caledon’s landscapes through several paintings, he was a Great Trail champion, a vocal advocate in raising awareness to Climate Change, and he generously supported Headwaters Hospital, Caledon Community Services and many other local initiatives and charities.

“In 2018, Cory Trepanier was inducted into the Caledon Walk of Fame, and you know he seemed surprised when I called to tell him—he was just so very humble,” Thompson said. “His Walk of Fame stone reads: ‘Cory Trepanier; artist, filmmaker, explorer. From the far reaches of the Canadian Arctic to the rolling hills of Caledon, Cory’s work captures the diversity of Canadian landscape through oil paintings and film. A National Champion of the Great Trail, Cory is dedicated to sharing and preserving our natural world.’ Cory Trepanier and Caledon will forever be linked. Janet, Andie, and Sydney—the Caledon Community shares in your tremendous loss, and we hold you in our hearts.“

All of Trépanier’s works, including art reproductions, films, and the book, can be found online at corytrepanier.com.

Anyone who wishes to support Trépanier’s family as they work through the loss, there’s a GoFundMe campaign that can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/help-cory-and-his-family. 



         

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