A puzzle without the box

Preserving family heritage and childhood memories

Some things no longer exist in visual form within the family, such as a town your family immigrated from, a family farm or home that no longer exists. You have some pieces – memories, photos, stories – but not the full picture. The beauty of drawings is that the spirit of these places can be recreated. This, to me, is magical and full of opportunity.

Memories of Musca Fruit Store, Ottawa. Watercolour.
Memories of Musca Fruit Store, Ottawa. Watercolour.

The painting above, was created around the story of a family who immigrated to Ottawa from Italy and opened the Musca Fruit Store. The original store is long gone, and the building set to be torn down. We had some family photos – including a black and white one of the storefront, and memories of what the Coca-Cola sign looked like, how the fruit was piled, and stories about picking up produce in the van. Some things we didn’t know, and others, like signage typical of the time, we were able to look up.

I knew that wine grapes were an important part of their story, so wanted to capture the bright August light and show other fruits and vegetables that may have been on display during the same season. The result brings a childhood memory back to life. I think it was as moving and fulfilling to create as it was to give and to receive.

Learn more about crafting a custom memory.

I’d love to help research and piece together a part of your family’s past with you. Tell me your story.