Obituary - BASLAW, Moses (MORTON)
1924 - 2016
Peacefully surrounded by family on July 1, 2016. Son of the late Murray Baslaw, Libby Finn and sister Irene. Devoted husband of Sheila Baslaw (Saslove), loving Father of sons David (Virginia), Lawrence (Helene) and Coleman (Jane) and beloved Grandfather of Noah (David) and Roxanna (Coleman).
Morton was born and raised in Ottawa, attending York Street Public and Lisgar High School. In his high school years, his artistic talents emerged in both music and art where he was a drummer in the marching band and his drawings were featured in the school magazine. In 1943, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and was trained as an Air Force photographer, serving in England, Holland, Belgium, Germany and France. While on duty, he drew cartoons for the air force magazine. All of Morton's pay cheques from the Air Force were sent home to support his parents. Morton returned in 1945 and attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Art where he studied cartooning. It was in Chicago that he was introduced to watercolour by the Schools Director, Ruth Van Sickle Ford. He graduated from the Chicago Academy of Fine Art in 1948 and returned to Ottawa where he opened his first graphic design studio.
In 1955, he met and married Sheila (Saslove) who would become the love of his life. He proposed to her on his first date. In the '50s, Morton built his graphic design business with clients such as Pure Spring Ginger Ale, Campeau Construction, the J.C.C. and the Ottawa Humane Society. He pursued his love for water colour on weekends and holidays, with regular visits to the Gatineau hills, small towns and rural areas in Ontario and Quebec. In these years, he crafted a truly unique style that became his trademark. From this point on, his water colour paintings were unmistakable, especially his signature pieces, landscapes and interpretive realism painted on location. Sons David, Lawrence and Coleman were born in 1960, 1961 and 1963 respectively.
Morton's advertising and graphic design business expanded to include The Boy Scouts, Canada Post and Macies to name a few new accounts at the time. Highlights included designs for Expo '67 and the opening of the National Arts Centre. In the '60s, Morton travelled with the family to paint in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. He had his first one man show "Creativity Among US" at the J.C.C. in 1966. Shortly after, he became a Member Exhibitor of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour and the Ontario Society of Artists. His paintings were displayed at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Cultural Branch of the Government of Alberta. On the music side, he became an original member of the Ottawa "Chassidic Group".
The '70s were all about family where Morton spent many hours taking his three sons to early morning hockey practices and games, guitar lessons and hebrew school, sometimes playfully bribing his boys with french fries to keep them on board with the latter two. With Sheila by his side, he relished watching his kids grow into teenagers and work through the many ups and downs in their high school years. Family highlights included three Bar Mitzvah's and family painting trips to P.E.I., Gaspe, the Prairies and an epic trip to the Yukon in 1976 where Morton painted some of his most memorable work. The eight week Yukon trip by way of a van pulling a trailer on the Alaska highway remains one of the family's greatest memories. It was captured that year in a feature story he wrote for North Magazine.
Morton began teaching Water colour at the Ottawa School of Art in 1972. In 1976, he founded and was the first President of the Ottawa Watercolour Society. The Society's first exhibition of many took place in 1977. He was President of the Ottawa School of Art in 1978. Recognition for Morton's talent as a watercolour artist flourished in the '70s. His paintings travelled on exhibition with The Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour and The Ontario Society of Artists (York Gallery, Township of Goulburn 1975, Dominion Corinth Galleries Ltd., Wallack Gallery) and he became a Permanent Member of these prestigious organizations in 1970 and 1974 respectively. On the business side, his advertising agency continued to expand with various partners and clients including Myers Motors. To this day, the Myers Motors logo remains on Ottawa's roads, a testament to his creative brilliance, standing the test of time even in the digital age.
In the '80s, Morton and Sheila celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary and saw their kids through the University years. He continued to run one of the most reputable creative advertising agencies in the city, often recognized by his peers, clients and the media. In the '80s, Morton took teaching posts with the Ottawa School of Art and Algonquin college, regularly combining his love for painting with teaching on location in beautiful settings around the national capital including his favourite spots in the Gatineau park and rural Cumberland. Morton went on to win The Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour's G. Allen Burton Award for best in show.
The '90s brought him his first grandchild (Noah). Morton continued to thrive graphically working on many creative projects including the design of the Canadian Mint's commemorative coins for the '92 Albertville Olympic Winter Games and the book "There I was", a reminiscence by Members of the Ottawa Jewish community who served in World War II. In 1995, Morton joined Mexican artist Rita Amaya for a two-man show after painting on location in Mexico City. His work was honoured by many exhibits and Art Societies in the years to come, including a special tribute by the Ottawa Water Colour Society in 1988. By this point in his life, Morton's paintings had been on exhibit for many years across Canada and internationally as far away as Africa and Israel. Later that decade, "Baslaw Crescent" in Hunt Club was named in his honour.
2004 brought Morton his granddaughter Roxanna (Coleman). He celebrated his 50th Wedding Anniversary with Sheila and family in 2005. At the age of 78, Morton led a group of students on an international teaching trip in Provence, France. He continued to teach in Ottawa well into his 80s and lived at his home on Palen Ave with his wife Sheila as long as he possibly could.
The family would like to thank the entire staff at Hillel Lodge for their exceptional commitment and support for Morton, above and beyond their wildest expectations. The caregivers there are very special people. Finally to Dr. Eric Wooltorton, Dr. Margarita Lianari and Dr. Charlie Koop who were an incredible blessing to the Baslaw family through this difficult time. Funeral service will be held at Temple Israel, 1301 Prince of Wales Drive on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.