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Nan Yeomans was born in 1923 in Petsworth, near Harrowsmith, Ontario.  She had been raised as an only child by elderly relatives, self-studied for her high school exams, there being no transportation to the closest school in Sydenham.  Coming to Kingston in her mid-twenties she knew she was to make her own way. She approached her studies and hobbies with the same determination and attention to detail, excelling in her bookkeeping and accounting courses and finding employment with a number of local businesses over a full working career.  

Nan’s love of art making had been encouraged as a child. She was thrilled on her arrival in her adopted town of Kingston to be able to take summer art courses at Queen’s University for a few years. She studied art by correspondence when her work load prevented her from doing more. When her schedule finally allowed, she enrolled in evening courses at St. Lawrence and joined groups sharing art work space.  Along the way she acquired her best known pet, Tommie, a red-eared slider purchased from Woolco for 99 cents.  And that’s another story!

Under My Shell:  Profile of Printmaker Nan Yeomans
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Nan lived frugally on her own but was a ‘joiner’, connecting with others through common interests. She was a loyal member and supporter of many community organizations. When she died in 2004 in her early 80s, it was no surprise that her estate plan provided $1,000 to ten different organizations she wanted to remember and her various collections of stamps, rocks and art materials were distributed amongst such groups. But Nan had gone further by naming the Community Foundation of Kingston and Area to be the sole residual beneficiary of her estate.  Nan wanted to fund a scholarship for promising artists or artisans so that others might experience the joy she had found in making art.


Nan’s art can be amazingly detailed. She did her research and planned well but she could also be playful and had a good sense of humour. She celebrated Tommie’s milestone birthdays and kept a diary for him.  When Nan died, Tommie was a record setting 35 years of age.  He went on to live with his veterinarian and a menagerie of other animals but made himself available for Nan’s Legacy events in 2007.  He died in the fall of 2007 at age 38 which was what in turtle years? 


Nan’s selflessness, her dedication to her art and to her community, and her affection for all living things make her a model for many to positively reflect upon. She had eclectic and progressive interests and made enjoying nature and her art her focal points.  Her devotion to her beloved pet Tommie Turtle had been publicly celebrated and entwined with her reputation in the community.  Her humble nature and modestly sized art works, her quirky combinations of elements, her recognition of local settings, all made her one of ‘us’, a regular person, doing what she loved, finding contentment and joy in creating art to be shared with others.

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