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Art and the Garden

Sudbury Living Magazine September 1, 2009 Home & Garden No Comments on Art and the Garden

The gardens at Teen Tree Pah on Long Lake have been lovingly cultivated by Ernie Checkeris and Muiriel McLeod for almost a quarter of a century.

Teen Tree Pah means “going into a dark hallow” in Greek.

Checkeris, the son of Greek immigrants, tamed the sloping camp property he bought 53 years ago for $250. Checkeris operated Wahnapitae Lumber Building Supplies and Home Hardware for 38 years. When he retired, he designed and built a permanent home with his own hands. Exterior walls are made with limestone he gathered from a farmer’s field on Manitoulin Island.Fall 2009The gardens at Teen Tree Pah on Long Lake have been lovingly cultivated by Ernie Checkeris and Muiriel McLeod for almost a quarter of a century.

Teen Tree Pah means “going into a dark hallow” in Greek.

Checkeris, the son of Greek immigrants, tamed the sloping camp property he bought 53 years ago for $250. Checkeris operated Wahnapitae Lumber Building Supplies and Home Hardware for 38 years. When he retired, he designed and built a permanent home with his own hands. Exterior walls are made with limestone he gathered from a farmer’s field on Manitoulin Island.

The original camp building is now the artistic couple’s pottery studio. McLeod is known for her functional pottery while Checkeris makes decorative pieces, mostly masks that resemble faces of a Greek chorus.

When it comes to gardening, it is the other way around. McLeod nurtures the decorative; Checkeris tends to the vegetable garden of peas, beans, tomatoes, turnips, parsnip lettuce, leeks and garlic.

McLeod, who grew up in Singapore and Scotland, says she gets her love of gardening from her father. In the spring there are tulips and daffodils in the gardens. In summer, there are irises and then poppies, peonies and day lillies. A burgundy/pink garden with pink coneflowers and bushes the colour of deep red wine is a more recent project.

She is particularly proud of her “friendship garden” which features perennials she has received from friends over the years.

Checkeris, who became interested in working in clay when he took classes in the fine arts program at Cambrian College, displays some of his whimsical artwork in the rambling gardens that features a tiered pond as a focal point.

Gardening keeps the couple busy three seasons of the year, but they also find time to devote to their pottery projects. Their work is available at Artists on Elgin.

The co-operative, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this year, is McLeod’s baby, and as president of the Northern Artist Gallery, she is determined to make it successful. She and her husband volunteer many hours at the artist-run gallery.

McLeod explains the couple likes to “keep busy.” They were, and continue to be, active on many volunteer committees. McLeod was a school board trustee for more than 20 years, while Checkeris was a trustee for 55 years and is the longest serving school trustee in Canada. He was chair of the Sudbury Board of Education for eight terms. Ernie Checkeris Public School was named in his honour in 1989.

The couple have travelled back to visit the lands of their ancestors across the pond on numerous occasions over the years, but one would understand if they never left their little piece of heaven where they enjoy visits from their children and grandchildren and are surrounded by the things they love.

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