It's 1907, and Emily Carr is off to Alaska with her sister, Alice. Emily chronicled their adventures – from extreme seasickness to visits to Sitka's totem poles – with great whimsy in a notebook journal: "We stopped for three hot dirty hours in Nanaino [sic] coaling, which time was mainly occupied in extracting cinders from each other's eyes," she writes, next to an image of Emily plunging an umbrella handle into Alice's right eye.
The diary spent decades in storage in a Montreal basement, until it was shown to David Silcox, Sotheby's Canada president. He had a limited edition published last year, which quickly sold out, despite its $350 price tag.
Sister and I in Alaska is now available in a hardcover, coffee-table-book trade edition from Figure 1 Publishing ($22.95). It chronicles a key turning point in Carr's artistic journey.
"This was the trip that proved to be the seminal moment in the birth of Emily Carr as we know her," says publisher Chris Labonte.
The diary is about to embark on another journey: to London, where it will be part of the Emily Carr exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery beginning Nov. 1; and then to Toronto, when the exhibition opens at the Art Gallery of Ontario in spring 2015.