|Description: A watercolour painting of two Rufus Weavers from Africa. The birds are yellow with black crested hoods. They are sitting amongst some grapes. The watercolour is part of an album (2003.2.1 a-at) that Anna Preston created to illustrate the birds in the Mississauga area and other exotics.
History:Anna Preston (ca 1887- ca 1980) was a local Mississauga artist who enjoyed painting and writing about birds to educate children. A friend to the Harris family, she gave her illustrated bird book as a gift to Barbara Larson so that her vision could be continued. On the front cover of her book, Anna states: ‘For loan to any child who desires it for any desired period inside the time limit of eight weeks.’
Her book illustrates several local species of birds such as the Eastern Bluebird, the American Goldfinch, and the Wood Thrush. She also describes many habitats and local naturalist haunts in Mississauga. She believed that natural areas should be protected as sanctuaries for wildlife. She writes: ‘that is what the sanctuary is for, to let people who live in cities and can’t know much about birds any other way, come out and study them as much as they like.’
Anna also published several articles for The Christian Science Monitor in the early 1900s. She often humanized the birds she painted and wrote about espousing the moral benefits of watching birds and their behaviours. Barbara Sayers Larson remembers Anna visiting Benares frequently and spending time with Annie Harris, her mother.
Items donated by Barbara Sayers Larson. Barbara Larson is the daughter of Annie Harris (1882-1986) and Beverly Sayers (1882-1976) and granddaughter of Arthur (1843-1932) and Mary (1859-1954) Harris. Barbara was born January 27, 1920 and was the youngest of three children. Barbara and her siblings, Geoffrey Sayers (1907-1997) and Dora Sayers Caro (1915-2004) donated Benares to the Ontario Heritage Foundation in 1969 after inheriting it from their aunt, Naomi Harris (1883-1968). Many of the items donated by Barbara originally belonged to her mother or Aunt Naomi and came from Benares. Barbara lived in a log cabin originally given to her mother by her grandparents at 1723 Birchwood Drive. She still maintains a close tie with Benares and is now living in Kelowna, British Columbia, with her daughter.