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Western Chorus Frog by Ghislain Caron (2006)

<i>Western Chorus Frog</i> by Ghislain Caron (2006)

Western Chorus Frog
The Western Chorus Frog is undoubtedly the smallest of the anura (frogs and toads) living in Québec. Despite its diminutive size (2.1 to 3.7 cm), it makes itself heard at the onset of warmer days in spring. Temporary marshes and ditches become concert halls for the ear as groups of males sing the mating call to attract females.

This frog feeds on tiny insects and invertebrates (ants, spiders and flies). During winter, it remains dormant under cover of dead leaves.

The prospect of silence in springtime is not to be discounted. A significant decrease in the number of marshes and ditches caused by human activity has resulted in a serious decline of the Western Chorus Frog population. This frog is designated as imperilled in Québec.

Yet hope remains, because the Government of Québec and several local wildlife and citizens’ groups have come to the frog’s rescue.  Cities and municipalities have even re-examined land development plans to make more room for this tiny frog.

Ghislain Caron
Montrealer by origin, naturalist painter Ghislain Caron was born on March 11, 1965. This second child of a family of four discovered the joys of nature when the family moved to Laval in 1971.

He signed his first contract at 17: 166 illustrations for the Trucs et secrets de pêche booklet. Thereafter, he was a regular illustrator for the Techniques de pêche and Lacs et Forêts magazines. Then, Serge-J. Vincent requested his services for his book entitled Pêche à la mouche.

In 1989, the Government of Québec commissioned a painting of a snow owl in flight as a gift for a dignitary. Upon completion, the work of art was offered to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, during his visit to Québec in May that same year.

Shortly afterwards, cartoon filmmaker Frédéric Back asked him to become an assistant illustrator for his next movie on the St. Lawrence River. Caron jointed the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in September 1989. 

In 1993, the Fondation de la faune du Québec issued a collector’s conservation stamp featuring an acrylic by Ghislain Caron of the Peregrine Falcon. In 1994, the four-stamp pane received the Gold Award in the Art Print category during the 19th international Gallery of Superb Printing in Buffalo.

This self-taught artist learned his craft poring over art books, attending art gallery exhibits and visiting museums. Artist friends such as Gilles Archambault, Daniel Grenier, Gisèle Grenier and Robert Gérard offered precious advice and helpful criticism that was sometimes hard to swallow, but always constructive.

In the spring of 1995, Caron tackled a major project: the complete illustration of the Les oiseaux du Québec et des maritimes bird guide reference that was published after two years of intense work.  Written by author Jean Paquin and edited by Michel Quintin in March 1998, the book required over 1000 pictures of birds, often shown in their habitat, illustrated on 79 colour plates. The moment the book hit stores, amateur ornithologists were enthralled. Electronic media and newspapers sang the praises of this book and interview after interview took place in the province and elsewhere. This guide was the first of its kind to be drafted in French in North America. Soon other contracts followed in its wake, notably with a publishing company in the United States to illustrate a book on birds that was marketed at the onset of 1999.

At the end of the summer of 1998, two biologists contacted Ghislain Caron, to ask him to illustrate a beer bottle label, a first for the artist. His end result was an illustration of the Copper Redhorse, a species of fish indigenous to Québec of which there remain only a few hundred specimens.

Ever concerned with the fate reserved for imperilled species, Caron was pleased to accept the invitation from Andrée Gendron and Alain Branchaud, who launched and coordinated a project that was to become the stepping stone for a much broader public awareness campaign.  Profits from the sale of this red beer brewed by Cheval Blanc and christened Rescousse and posters produced for the same occasion will serve to fuel a special fund at the Fondation de la faune du Québec.

In 2005, the Fondation de la faune du Québec selected Caron’s masterpiece of the Western Chorus Frog to illustrate the 19th habitat conservation stamp offered as a limited issue.
To order stamps:
Rousseau timbres et monnaies
585, rue Sainte-Catherine ouest
Montréal (Québec) H3B 3Y5
Telephone: 514 – 284-8686
Toll free: 1-800-561-9977
Email: rousseaucollections@bellnet.ca
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