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This was Charley the steer and we named him on the spot as he gazed curiously at Vic and I as we painted en plein air. Curious George the Chimpanzee does not have the monopoly on being inquisitive.
Curious George was created by Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey. Hans and Margret were German Jews. The couple first met in Hamburg at Margret's sister's 16th birthday party. They met again in Brazil, where Hans was working as a salesman of bathtubs and Margret had gone to escape the rise of Nazism in Germany. They married in 1935 and moved to Paris in August of that year. They lived in Montmartre and fled Paris in June 1940 on home-made bicycles. They carried the Curious George manuscript with them. Apparently they settled in New York City but that is another story. Curious George was the protagonist of the children's books written by the Reys. Curious George was a brown orphaned chimpanzee brought from his home in Africa by "The Man with The Yellow Hat" to live with him in a giant city.
The name for the steer was not totally spontaneous as he is almost certainly a Charolais which rhymes with Charley. The Charolais cattle is a breed of taurine beef from the Charolais area surrounding Charolles in Burgundy, in eastern France. Charolais are raised for meat and may be crossed with other breeds, including Angus and Hereford cattle. Charolais cattle were introduced to the southern United States from Mexico in 1934. Charolais crosses arrived in Alberta and Canada for the first time in 1953 which coincidentally is also the year I was born. The breed became very popular and in 1965 it was introduced in the northern New England states from Canada.
The life path for this young male Charolais has certainly already been steered toward the butcher. Charley was certainly a steer or a male Charolais that had been neutered. He was certainly weaned from his mother and thus was no longer a calf. A weaned male is typically called a feeder which might be another clue where he is headed.
The curious story behind this painting certainly has its origins in France and it all came together at the farm on the Port Elmsley Road just east of the Rideau Ferry Road intersection.
September 1st, 2018
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