The town of Preston in southern Ontario, at the confluence of the Speed and Grand Rivers, was first settled by Mennonites from Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. Preston no longer exists; in 1973 it was incorporated, along with Hespeler and Galt, into the municipality of Cambridge. Two men raising families in Preston in the early part of the last century, Rufus Meisel and Ion Snider, were friends; two of their children, Doris Meisel and Edward Snider, went to Galt Collegiate together.

Rufus had a grain and feed store in Preston, which fell on hard times. He decided to give his gun, which he no longer trusted himself with, to Ion for safekeeping. It was a nickel-plated, short-barreled, six-shot .32 calibre revolver, called the American Double Action, made by Harrington and Richardson in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Doris married Jack Shadbolt in 1945, and after working for the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, moved to Vancouver with Jack and joined the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1950. Edward, after a career in the Air Force, moved to Tsawwassen in 1970. His son Greg met Doris the following year at the Vancouver Art Gallery, where she was then Senior Curator. She agreed to an exhibition of his work at the VAG in 1976.

When Ion died in 1963, the gun passed to Edward; when Edward died in November of 2003, it went to Greg, who had found out the story from his father shortly before he died. He wanted to tell Doris, but she was traveling in Mexico where, that December, she suddenly died.

In 2007 the gun was split in half and embedded. The object endures.

Forester's Ghost
Rufus Meisel Had a Gun
Project for a
  Public Works Yard
Project for a Mall
Concrete Progress

Rufus Meisel Had a Gun
2007, mixed media 2' x 3' x 1"  Copyright © 2007 - Greg Snider.
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