LITTLE CURRENT—Diane Sims has led a remarkable life, especially over the past year when she entered palliative care with only three months to live—at least that’s what she was told more than one year ago. The former Expositor editor is no stranger to bucking the odds, diagnosed at age 17 with multiple sclerosis and faced with the prognosis that she would soon be confined to a wheelchair, bedridden by 27 and faced a death sentence by age 35. Ms. Sims had two words for that fate we won’t repeat here.
She has gone on to pen five books, spent many years as a journalist and, in 2020, picked up brushes and began to paint.
“I wasn’t very good at first,” said Ms. Sims. But with the dogged determination that has kept her going for three decades passed her supposed expiry date, and with a bit of tutelage and a lot of coaxing from her close friend and confidante, Manitoulin artist Ivan Wheale, she kept at it. She kept improving to the point she felt confident enough to produce a series of six art cards (available at Turners of Little Current). “I showed them to Ivan to see what he thought,” said Ms. Sims. “He paid me the greatest compliment, ‘I wouldn’t change a thing’.”
“She is a remarkable woman,” said Mr. Wheale while dropping off one of his famous Georgian Bay paintings at The Expositor for the July 1 Canada Day live auction for Ukraine. “I was quite taken by the work she showed me.”
Further emboldened by her mentor’s critique, Ms. Sims had the series of art cards printed.
“I take great delight in sketching split rail fences,” she said. She also focused on old barns and Little Current’s birdcage lighthouse as subjects for her art.
“I showed them to Debby Turner and she selected four of them to sell in her store in Little Current,” said Ms. Sims.
Ms. Sims visited Manitoulin Island recently, seeking out more split rail subjects for her art—and anything else that catches her eye. Ms. Sims said although she now lives in Stratford, her heart is deeply attached to the Island.
“I am even an honourary Haweater,” she laughs. “I was inducted into the Haweater Hall of Fame by Dave Schinbeckler.”
In the meantime, she is being kept busy with commissioned works, some of her works hang in the Windsor, Stratford and Amherstburg municipal offices.
Ms. Sims’ art cards can be purchased at Turners of Little Current, or by contacting her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 226-921-4790.