Hudson's Bay Store, Fort William c. 1860-1870
National Gallery of Canada (no. 30490)
Recently I came across another well known piece by Armstrong named "Indians Completing a Portage". The rather busy and chaotic scene shows plenty of action taking place. It took a while, but eventually my eyes spotted a seated figure in the lower right foreground with a paddle laying on a log.
Indians Completing a Portage
Library and Archives Canada, Mikan #2833414
Another painting by Armstrong features this same pattern again. This piece entitled "The Distribution of the Government Bounty on Great Manitouling Island" dates to 1856. The artist once again placed this decorated paddle in the periphery. It is on the far left foreground behind another subject with the red shirt.
The Distribution of the Government Bounty on Great Manitouling Island 1856
Here's a closeup...
Armstrong was both an engineer and an artist with a great attention to detail. Many have commented on the accuracy of his paintings of the huge freight canoes in addition to his earlier artwork the sailing commerce of the Great Lakes. It stands to reason that his artwork portrays a realistic image of this era in history.