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For the month of December the Museum has placed 5 of John Kolstein’s sketches in the Art Space.  Below is a short biography on the artist.

image of John Kolstein

Self Portrait 1988

John Kolstein was a man who says he was born with a pencil and pen in his hand.  Kolstein recalls he was always drawing, ever since he was a child.  “It’s a natural talent I just developed my own technique”.

Early on in his career he was commissioned to draw a number of businesses and homes in the community and many have stayed in the area.  Kolstein was the first artist to showcase his pieces here in the original gallery and he continued to put on regular exhibitions.  He was a strong supporter of the library, museum and local art groups.


 He often worked in pen combined with watercolours.  “I have never seen this style done this way by anybody else”.  Kolstein would travel with a camera and a sketch pad all the time when something of interest caught his eye he would begin a preliminary sketch and photograph the subject.   An 8×10 inch sketch would take Kolstein about two weeks to complete.

“The technique I use appeals to people and brings me great pleasure.  I just hope that when I’m gone that people will remember me.”  Kolstein died on September 22nd 1991 in Strathroy at the age of 73.

These paintings are part of the Art Gallery Collection that Museum Strathroy-Caradoc holds.   This collection contains over 80 pieces, many of them done by local artists.

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When Ross was born in 1920 the Lyceum in Strathroy was showing Charlie Chaplin in “The Count”, and Rapley and Ballantyne Druggists were advertising Preserves and Pickles.

Lyceum Ad

Birth Announcement

Ross grew up in a large family that lived on Railway Avenue.   His father worked at Tantons Undertaker and Furniture Store on Front Street where he was an upholsterer by trade.  Ross attended Maitland Street Public School and judging by the photo below was one of the tallest boys in the class.

File0025

When Ross was only 16 he left school to support his family as his father had passed way a few years prior.  He started working at the Middlesex Furniture Factory in 1936 and continued there until the outbreak of war.   He joined the Royal Canadian Navy on May 20, 1942.  During the war he was part of the crew of the HMCS Huron.  Here you see a number of items from this time.  The boots were purchased in 1943 in England.  In each boot, on the strap, “K. R. Smith” is written.  Ross sewed his name into the Navy blanket using a “housewife” kit his mother sent him.

HMCS Huron

Ross Smith

Smith BlanketSmith Boots

Doris Wright
During his service in the Navy he started to court a “local girl” who was in the W. R. C. N. S. (Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service) also known as the Wrens.  By the end of the war this division of the Navy had 39 trades open to women.  Job categories included steward, plotter, sick berth attendant and coder.  Ross and Doris dated throughout the war and even found time in Halifax in 1944 to “go out on the town”.

Ross returned home in 1945 and was discharged on October 2nd of that same year.  He received a Public Recognition Certificate from the Town, thanking him for serving in World War II.  Doris and Ross married on June 14 1947 and settled down on Saulsbury Street to start their family.

Recognition

june 19 47


Doris continued her work as a telephone operator and Ross went back to the Middlesex Furniture Factory.  In 1950 a group panoramic photo was taken of the staff of the factory, here you see Ross in the second row from the bottom, 7th from the right.  He continued at the factory until 1982 when he retired.

Doris at a Switchboard

Middlesex Furniture 1950 web

Middlesex Furniture 1950 Ross

On his down time Ross liked to collect model trains, do yard work, and garden.  Looking through the local newspaper, the Strathroy Age Dispatch, we come across Ross showing off an amaryllis plant that had six blooms in February 1972.  Ross was also a regular member of the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Strathroy, and below you will see a photo from the 1988 Church Yearbook.

Ross Smith AD Feb 24 1972Ross and Doris Church Photo 1988

Finally there is one more photo, and this is how I will remember Ross, standing in his uniform with all of his WWII medals.

Ross with medals

Ross will be missed.

About the Museum

Museum Strathroy-Caradoc opened to the public in 1972. As a community museum we strive to preserve and tell the story of Strathroy-Caradoc, and inspire residents to explore and understand the community around them.

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