Maud Lewis’s ‘letter exchange’ sells for $8,000

Six letters written by Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis to London, Ontario artist John Kinnear are embarking on a new journey after fetching a significantly higher price than pre-sale estimates in an auction on April 13.

Their heartfelt correspondence, spanning geographical distances, created a profound connection between them. Six of Lewis’s letters to Kinnear from 1966 to 1967  came up for auction by Ontario’s Miller & Miller Auctions Ltd., fetching a hammer price of $8,000, surpassing the original estimate of $4,000 to $6,000 for the collection.

The genesis of this compassionate exchange can be traced back to a feature article discovered by Kinnear in the pages of Star Weekly magazine, nestled within his weekend edition of the London Free Press, as highlighted in a CBC article by journalist Andrew Lupton. This article unveiled the touching narrative of Lewis, an exceptionally talented artist who shunned the allure of fame and fortune, opting instead for a simple life in rural Marshalltown near Digby, Nova Scotia, with her husband Everett. Despite facing the challenges of poverty, isolation, and debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, Lewis’s artwork flourished with vibrant depictions of rural scenes and whimsical animal portraits. Her resilience was evident in her modest one-room dwelling, devoid of modern amenities.

Reflecting on her father’s compassionate gesture, Sheila Kinnear, now 69 and an artist like her father, fondly recalls, “My father was deeply moved by that Star Weekly article and was captivated by the beauty of Maud Lewis’s creations.” Kinnear, a former London police officer who died in 2003, left behind a legacy of empathy and appreciation for the arts, embodied by his enduring connection with Maud Lewis.

The folk art paintings of Maud Lewis (1901-70) are a colourful and joyful portrayal of country life in the Maritimes.

In November 2020, Canada Post issued three stamps showcasing the folk art paintings of Lewis, depicting life in the Maritimes countryside. Lewis initially started her artistic journey by painting Christmas cards under her mother’s guidance, selling them to neighbors in rural Nova Scotia. The stamp collection highlighted three seasonal pieces from the 1960s – “Winter Sleigh Ride,” “Team of Oxen in Winter,” and “Family and Sled” – all part of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s collection in Halifax.

Lewis was born and raised in Yarmouth County, N.S., and later lived in nearby Marshalltown with her husband, Everett. She spent much of her adult life in a cramped, one-room house with no running water or electricity. Living with rheumatoid arthritis and having no formal training, she was a prolific painter – sometimes producing as many as three pieces a day. Lewis used a vibrant palette to capture the spirit of the people, animals and activities beyond her window and add life to almost every surface in her tiny home, which is also on display at the Gallery.



Leave a Reply

Canadian Stamp News


Canadian Stamp News is Canada's premier source of information about stamp collecting and related fields.

Although we cover the entire world of philatelics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

Send Us Your Event

Running an event? Send it to us and we will display it on Canadian Stamp News!

Submit Event →

Subscribe To 26 Issues For Just $59.99/year

Subscribe today to receive Canada's premier stamp publication. Canadian Stamp News is available in both paper and digital forms.

Subscribe Now