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Nova Scotia's
Uncommon Common Man

Although he would travel around the world, Charles Macdonald spent most of his long life in the rural Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. Born into a family of six children in Steam Mill, Nova Scotia, Macdonald's father worked as an apple grower and his grandfather as a Presbyterian minister. Neither farming nor ministry held very much appeal for Charlie, however. Art found him early in his life and he vexed his schoolteachers by drawing in class.

When he was only fifteen years old, Charlie left school for good. For the next decade of his life, Charlie worked in and around Kentville, the shire town of his native Kings County and only a few miles from his birthplace of Steam Mill. Apprenticed first to a coffin-maker and then to a wheelwright, Charlie did not make very much money but did become a proficient carpenter. He also found plenty of time for artistic pursuits. Some of his adolescent pencil-sketches survive still. Charlie's observant eyes and careful hands have left us a record of his pastoral world of forests and fields, cows and rabbits, farmhands and woodcutters.

It was a world he soon would leave behind. Charlie had hung around boatyards and watched all of the ship launchings that he could throughout his teens and early twenties. In 1898, he sailed away.

The Age of Sail
The North Sea
Beautifully realized sketches document a journey around the world as a ship's carpenter.

The Concrete Man
The Concrete House
Charles Macdonald was a pioneering promoter of concrete.

The Centreville Socialists
Political Cartoon
A circle of social thinkers in Centreville during the 1920s, '30s, and '40s.

Seascapes & Landscapes
"[O]ne of the greatest artists that Nova Scotia ever produced" left an invaluable visual record of his native province.

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All contents © 2003 Charles Madonald House of Centreville Society