A Boy Scout diary, a hand-painted Christmas card and an uncashed cheque have revealed the eccentricities and the humour of Emily Carr, one of Canada’s most beloved artists.

The items, which are being auctioned in Vancouver May 26, are from Carr’s lean years, between 1917 and the late 1920s, when she ran a boarding house, was breeding dogs, made pottery and hooked rugs to survive. She also stopped painting.

They were discovered by Peter Rodd, whose father Cyril — also known as Twinkie — did odd jobs for Carr as a teenager, including chopping wood, mowing the lawn and walking the animals.

Along with two pieces of pottery made by Carr were a hand-painted Christmas card from her and a 1927 uncashed cheque written to Twinkie from Carr for $2.50.

The family took its find to the Heffel Fine Art Auction House, which has a reputation for selling Carr art.

A cheque for $2.50 would have been a lot of money for a teenager at a time when a haircut cost 25 cents.

Rodd believes his father had sympathy for Carr’s financial situation.

“I think that’s why my father never cashed the cheque, because he felt she was poor. I don’t think he had any foresight about her becoming as famous as she has.”

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