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Canadian Tire looks to cut about 3% of workforce as it faces softening demand

Canadian retail giant Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. is set to cut approximately three percent of its workforce in response to softening demand, signaling the impact of economic challenges on consumer spending.

As the retailer grapples with this workforce reduction, a poignant exhibition at Winnipeg's Mayberry Fine Art takes us back to a time when art played a crucial role in boosting morale during another challenging period - the Second World War. The exhibition, titled "Art for War and Peace - An Exhibition of Sampson-Matthews Silkscreens," showcases the work of 30 painters, including renowned artists such as Emily Carr, Joseph Hallam, Albert Robinson, Fritz Brandtner, A.Y. Jackson, and A.J. Casson.

These artists, including members of the Group of Seven, contributed to the war effort by creating 36 paintings that were reproduced as prints and sent to army bases overseas. The paintings depicted familiar Canadian scenes and landscapes, offering a touch of home to those serving on the front lines.

Bill Mayberry, the owner of Mayberry Fine Art, explained the significance of these prints during wartime. "It was to bring images into the armed forces camps and government offices that were involved in the war effort," he said. Initially met with skepticism, the prints quickly proved to be a morale booster among the troops.

A.Y. Jackson, a key figure in the art project and a Canadian official war artist in the First World War, recognized the impact of art on the well-being of those serving in the armed forces. The prints, created through the intricate process of silkscreening, became a source of inspiration in the barracks.

Mayberry highlighted the complexity of the silkscreen process, citing Tom Thomson's "Northern River," which took an entire week for the plant to create the screens for that one image. These prints, originally sold for a modest $5 during the war, have now become valuable collectors' items, worth thousands today.

However, the full collection has never been fully recovered. Mayberry noted that most of the prints sent overseas are believed to have been destroyed. Out of the 50,000 prints made and shipped during the war, very few made their way back.

The exhibition, running from Nov. 9 to 23, 2023, provides a poignant reminder of the resilience and impact of art during challenging times. As Canadian Tire makes workforce adjustments in response to economic conditions, the exhibition reflects on a historical moment when art served as a morale booster, bringing comfort to those far from home.

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