"Reproduced in magazines and books, on posters and postcards and television [Colville's paintings] have become icons of Canadianism, the visual expression of our spirit." (Fulford)
As Hellen Dow states: "Alex Colville celebrates the ordinary." In Canada, what could be more ordinary than a fishing trip? My son Thomas and his friend Braden just came home from a fishing trip in French River. My Grandad Stroud used to make an annual fishing trip to French River. And what fishing trip would be complete without a photo of the prize fish? Thomas caught a pike; not bad for his first time fishing. Countless Canadians can reminisce about fishing trips taken as children.
Colville's piece, Embarkation, appears to depict a husband and wife on a fishing trip. Using an aerial view, Colville paints the woman descending the ladder to the fishing boat while her husband looks on. The boat is devoid of fish so they must be just setting out (although not everyone who fishes comes back with any fish). Colville grew up in Amherst, Nova Scotia situated on the Cumberland Basin, an arm of the Bay of Fundy. Fishing was an ideal sport for the locals who had access to islands, bays, rivers, points and shoals.