At age 17, James graduated from Kemptville Agricultural School in 1927 and then pursued agricultural work on the family farm, RR2 Port Stanley in Elgin County.
James went on to study cabinetry and blueprint reading. When World War II began an air force flying Technical Training School was built just outside St. Thomas and James worked there for several years focusing on finishing-carpentry. There, in his spare time, he used the flying school’s fine saws and left-over lumber to create beautiful and personal artifacts turned on a lathe: ornamental lidded containers and also trays with fine, multi-coloured inlay woods.
After purchasing a UNI tractor James was often referred to as the first owner of that kind of Waterloo machine in Ontario. It had two functions. First, it picked field corn cobs, removed their husks and then removed the kernels from each cob and dumped the kernels into waiting trucks that then were taken to a nearby St.Thomas granary. Secondly, the combine part of the machine harvested wheat, oats, barley and rye. James hired out with the machine traveling to numerous farms in neighbouring townships.
Later, as a construction superintendent, he over-saw the building of commercial factory buildings throughout Ontario and Quebec while employed with Commercial Leaseholds, Hamilton. Several of the buildings were in the Elgin and Middlesex counties area and included the UCC Building, University of Western Ontario.
James traveled around Ontario farms for several years building Harvestore grain storage silos, and James’ wife Jean frequently accompanied him. They often resided on site in a recreational vehicle starting with a 12-foot trailer and then bigger trailers eventually spending 14 years wintering in Florida. At age 25 he had married his childhood sweetheart Jean (Metler) McPherson. Jean’s Metler relatives owned The Clementine Bath House and Murphy Hotels, Mt.Clemens, Michigan. James and Jean had three children (David, Hugh, Karen) and James built their lovely home on family farm property with lumber sawn from trees on his father’s farm.
James was an avid reader, gardener, and enjoyed working with wood. His mother was a Bannerman relative of John George Diefenbaker’s first wife, and that family connection generated James’ interest in local politics.
The James H. McPherson Woodworking Award is sponsored by family, as a memorial. Image: Turned Mahogany Lidded Box, 13 x 19 cm.
Dorothy Elaine (Woodman) McPherson's artistic exploration was fueled by her constant curiosity in the world of arts and crafts. The only thing steadier than her creativity was her continuous patronage of the work and accomplishments of other artists.
An Alma College graduate, Dorothy's passion for the arts became a true hallmark of her life. She founded two fine arts guilds, one in writing and one in quilting. She was a certified instructor in quilting, as well as doll-making. She taught night school classes for five years with an honorable mention for her Ball Doll entries by the Doll Museum in Krakow, Poland.
Never content, Dorothy was prolific in several media, excelling with her quilting handwork, needle arts, original Christmas decorations, and folk-art dolls. The breadth of her skills grew at the Haliburton School of Fine Arts where she learned basketry and cartooning.
Wearing countless hats throughout her career, Dorothy's creativity manifested itself in the written work as an author, columnist, editor, and playwright. Her subject matter reflected her observations of folk customs and an appreciation of fine handwork in fiction and non-fiction pieces. Dorothy's self-published book, Miss Janey Canuck, is a collection of her folksy newspaper colums.
Joining the Canadian Society for Canadian Leathercraft, Dorothy's philosophy with any art medium was: a person should have fun and the boundaries should be limitless. This belief was evident inher leathercrafting, as she created whimsical wet moulded pieces from cowhide leveling splits. Once she had immersed herself in the world of leathercrafting, she became editor of Canadian Leathercraft. Dorothy volunteered and wrote Ontario Volunteer Service Award submissions for 55 CSCL members. Working from her home in Port Colborne and London, Ontario, Dorothy's original articles appeared in various publicationsa cross Canada.
At DURA MED, the family business, Dorothy showcased work, curating her own gallery. Showroom guest were met with an ever-changing and unique mix of the arts and crafts from selected artists. Additionally, she put her creative skills to fine use, acting as a publusher, editor, and content creator for the monthly business newsletter.
Wherever Dorothy saw an opportunity to get involved, she would. Joining the Ontario Crafts Council in 1979, she participated in craft guilds in Niagara and London as a guest artisan, speaker, and retailer, designing and presenting her own leather jewellery, branded "Dorothy".
Given Dorothy's broad and ever-growing range of art skills, this annyal award recognizes excellence in mixed media.
The Craft Awards program is able to take place on an annual basis through the valued support of many generous donors and sponsors. Our thanks go to the following organizations, businesses and individuals: Gladstone House, The Pottery Supply House, Tuckers Pottery Supplies Ltd., FUSION: the Ontario Clay and Glass Association, Lacy West Supplies. Ltd., as well as members and friends of the Mather, Copeland, Corcoran, Walker, Gregor, McPherson, Shanks, and Yung families.