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Image Left: The Fur Coat, oil on canvas by Carl Gordon Cutler (1873 - 1945) From the Clarke Gallery.
It was already a uniquely Canadian portrait before I stumbled into it: Downtown Kingston lit up with Christmas lights, snow gently falling, and skaters going around the rink at market square. But the photographer paused, waiting for the unwitting focal point to enter the frame: a giant bear of a woman, ambling down the sidewalk in a rustic fur coat.
The tourist couple spoke no English, but they were fascinated by me and my coat. After a vigorous bout of sign language, I finally understood they wanted me in the shot. Glad to oblige, I stepped back, smiled wide and struck a pose.
The coat has been mine for several years, but I still call it Malgorzata's coat. My neighbour, who is Polish, brought me the great mountain of mink on a scorching July day. I thought she was being satirical, but soon discovered she was serious.