Bill Mason is probably one of the world’s most well-known Riverviewers. He was an accomplished painter, filmmaker, author, two-time Academy Award nominee, a world-class canoeist, and the creator of a painting of the community centre in the 50s titled, “After the Game.” For years this painting hung proudly in the club. It was treasured by the community as a window into the youth of those who grew up here, until sometime in the 1990s, when the painting suddenly went missing.
Prints had been made shortly before this, and because of this, many people didn’t realize that the painting they had been staring at for the past twenty years was not the original.
“After the Game” provides an intriguing window into the past, partially because the centre still retains so many similarities. The core of the building has remained largely unchanged since its construction in the late 40s. Stucco inside some of the hallways marks the original outside wall.
We can also see that the heart of the club has remained the same. Rinks were a part of the community club before there was even a building, the original skate changing station being an old boxcar. The lobby is still surrounded by benches where kids change into their skates, large windows still cover the back wall, and the canteen window still serves treats in the same place as it did roughly seventy years ago.
This was the community centre of Bill Mason’s youth, likely painted while he was still a young man. He started his career as a commercial artist, then worked as an animator. Eventually, his love of nature combined with his passions for both canoeing and film. His philosophy was that the way to make people care about the environment was to show it to them, and as an avid solo canoeist, he brought his camera along with him to show the world the Canadian nature he knew and loved.
Whether through documentary or historical drama, Bill showed Canadians the Canadian wilderness. He had many projects produced through the National Film Board of Canada and became so prolific he was eventually featured on a stamp. His short films Paddle to the Sea and Blake, both went on to be nominated for academy awards.
Many of his films can be watched online for free through the NFB Website at nfb.ca/directors/bill-mason/
His painting of the community centre could be anywhere, but there’s a good chance that it’s still somewhere in Riverview, where it retains the most value. Maybe someone took it home for safekeeping, maybe someone thought it was a print, maybe they had no idea what it was, whatever the case, there’s been no word on the original in about thirty years.
If you think you might have a lead regarding the painting’s whereabouts, you can send us a tip by contacting the club by emailing email@example.com or calling the club at 204-452-9944. Copies of the print can be purchased for $70 by contacting the club by the same means.