I-a-ca-way, the Loud Speaker (formerly titled “Little Rat”, Rainy Lake)
Paul Kane arrived in "muddy York" as a boy, apprenticed as a furniture painter, and subsequently spent several years as an itinerant artist in the United States.Inspired by other artists, such as the American George Catlin, Kane determined to document the lives of Native Americans before their way of life was destroyed by the incursion of European colonization. Like many others of his generation, Kane saw Native culture as something static, without the capacity to adapt, and inevitably doomed to eradication. In 1846, he set out from Toronto on an arduous, two-year journey to the Pacific coast, traveling by canoe, wagon, on horseback and on foot. He sketched as he went and kept a detailed diary of events. Returning to Toronto in October 1848, he embarked upon the production of some 100 large oil paintings depicting native peoples, based upon the wealth of sketches he had accumulated. These large paintings nonetheless reflected Kane's study of European painting, and in their contrived compositions are less interesting or accurate than the small portrait sketches, such as that of I-a-ca-way, a Saulteaux chief whom Kane met at Rainy Lake in 1846. In 1859, Kane published a 'best-selling' account of his epic journey, Wanderings of an Artist among the Indians of North America.