E. J. Hughes: Life at the Lake

By (author): Robert Amos
ISBN 9781771514194
Hardcover | Publication Date: October 24, 2023
Book Dimensions: 9.5 in. x 8 in.
112 Pages

About the Book

The latest instalment in the award-winning series on the life and work of E. J. Hughes brings the reader into this very private artist’s home and studio on Shawnigan Lake.

In the most intimate volume yet about prolific Canadian painter E. J. Hughes, the artist’s official biographer Robert Amos brings us Life at the Lake, capturing the years Hughes and his wife Fern spent at their home on Shawnigan Lake, Vancouver Island.

Following Hughes’s service as a war artist, in 1946 he and Fern looked for a place to buy in Victoria. Then, in 1951, they spotted an ad for a property on Shawnigan Lake, about 40 kilometres north of the city. The quiet lakeside existence he and Fern established suited his temperament and artistic needs perfectly. In addition to reproductions of all of his Shawnigan-themed oils and watercolours, the book includes dozens of sketches, colour notes, local news clippings, letters, and illuminating excerpts from recorded interviews with Pat Salmon, Hughes’s longtime friend and assistant.

With a keen appreciation for the quotidian, Amos captures lakeside life at Shawnigan, with Hughes’s observations on birds and trees, and trips to local shops and restaurants. He tells of an unusually snowy winter that slowed the delivery of finished paintings to the post office and, on a more sombre note, the gradual progression of Fern’s muscular dystrophy. The book shares insights into the relationships—with Fern, Pat, and agent Max Stern—that allowed Hughes to achieve great success as an artist while living a quiet existence at Shawnigan Lake.

For the Hughes fan and anyone who enjoys learning about the everyday lives of artists, this latest addition to the Hughes pictorial canon is a must.

About the Author(s)

Robert Amos has published eleven books on art—including five bestselling volumes on the life and work of beloved Canadian artist E. J. Hughes—and was the arts columnist for Victoria’s Times Colonist newspaper for more than thirty years. Amos was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1995 and is an Honorary Citizen of Victoria. He lives in Oak Bay, British Columbia, with his wife, artist Sarah Amos.


“The latest coffee-table book in the prize-winning series about the Canadian painter known for images of British Columbia’s landscape and seascape reproduces paintings alongside photographs, sketches and ephemera from his time there.” —Globe and Mail

“The book delivers insight from the artist and those close to him — and his paintings of his Vancouver Island surrounds speak volumes.” —Vancouver Sun

E.J. Hughes: Life at the Lake takes the reader into the artist’s home, and tells of his love for Fern . . . This book is a fine record of Hughes’ life at the lake.” —Times Colonist

“Robert Amos offers a fascinating glimpse into the everyday life of a beloved Canadian artist.” —MONTECRISTO Magazine

Robert Amos offers an insightful journey through the life and remarkable work of this most private of painters… British Columbia’s enchanting landscapes is fully explored in this fitting tribute.” —Ross King, bestselling author of The Bookseller of Florence

“In Life at the Lake, Robert Amos has shown Canadians that Emily Carr was not the only painting superstar from BC. E. J. Hughes deserves to stand with the giants.” —Roy MacGregor OC, bestselling author of Canoe Country

“Weaving Hughes’s own words throughout, Robert Amos’s continuous research reveals more personal aspects of this artist’s life. Illustrated with Hughes’s sketches and paintings, as well as historical photographs and documents, this book enriches our further understanding of Hughes’s major turning points.” —Kiriko Watanabe, Gail & Stephen A. Jarislowsky Curator, Audain Art Museum

“Not just a fascinating story, the book also includes dozens of sketches and paintings of his lakeside refuge.” —YAM Magazine

“Robert Amos again brings thorough research and his accessible writing style to the telling of Hughes’ story, the focus of this modest publication being the years Hughes spent living and working in a drafty and unplumbed old house on Vancouver Island’s Shawnigan Lake.” —Preview Art

“These beautifully produced chronicles provided a significant account of Hughes’ life and work, ensuring he will remain in the pantheon of Canada’s eminent artists” —BC Magazine

Our Favourite B.C. Books From 2023 —MONTECRISTO Magazine