The building in The Pioneer Mill recalls the sawmill that Watson’s paternal grandfather had built in Doon. Ontario’s rampant industrialization during the decades around 1880 led to waves of regret about the decline of quaint water-wheel mills. But Watson was well aware that the downfall of his grandfather’s mill (symbolized especially by the image’s dead tree) was due to faceless industrialization and individual human greed: by relentlessly devouring trees, the mill had created a wasteland that ultimately spelled its collapse.
Close to Home: Homer Watson’s Canadian Landscape Painting
Homer Watson, The Pioneer Mill, 1880
Oil on canvas, 86 x 127.8 cm, Royal Collection Trust, Windsor Castle, Berkshire