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Frank Bell


by Brownie Gibson

In the early thirties there came to Shawnigan a man whom everyone who was here at that time will remember. A photographer by trade, Mr. Bell was also a versatile artist. He was not afraid to be an individualist.


Although not blessed with much in the way of worldly goods, he was independent and built himself a most unique house, mostly out of heavy cardboard treated to resist the weather, with a sort of dome. His house was situated on the north side of the bridge at the outlet of the lake. In this house he plied his trade as a photographer and had as a hobby a sort of planetarium which interested his good friends, the village children.


He won acclaim in 1937 for his painting of the scenes on the Shawnigan float in the Victoria Junior Chamber of Commerce parade, and was responsible for most of the scenery used in the dramatic productions of the time.


During the years he was here, the S.L.A.A. Hall boasted two different scenes on its large roll-up curtain. One was a Roman scene with twelve warhorses advancing abreast. The painting was very effective but the fact that the horses had forty-nine legs recalls it vividly to those mathematical souls who must count everything. The next curtain scene was a pretty Venetian picture complete with gondola, but in later years as the curtain ropes rubbed on the canvas, there were the horses’ legs again.


Mr. Bell served overseas in the first world war with the 45th Field Ambulance and was the holder of a military medal. He moved eventually to the Malahat where he hoped to interest more tourist trade with his photography and other interesting hobbies. He died shortly after at the age of 56.

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Would this be the Frank Harold Bell whom died in 1938 and is interred at St. John's in Cobble Hill?

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