Since May 31st, and until September 21st, The Rooms have been commemorating the centennial of artist Rockwell Kent’s legendary time in Brigus.

Kent came to Newfoundland for a brief but storied year in 1914, to live and paint in Brigus … before he was asked to leave on account of suspicions he was a German spy.

History isn’t clear if he was deported or told to leave for his own safety.

The Rooms’ Pointed North exhibit is showing paintings, drawings, prints, and books from various points throughout Kent’s career, highlighting those inspired by his time here.

He was a bit of a wild character, and certainly one of the most interesting people to have lived on the Avalon. In fact, his allure was so strong several notable Canadian authors have written books on him.

One of these authors is local favourite Michael Winter, whose second novel, The Big Why, imagines the year Rockwell spent in Brigus, from Rockwell’s point of view.

Famously, The Big Why is the novel Michael Winter’s main character was writing in Winter’s debut novel, This All Happened (a blend of fiction and diary that captured a year in the life of a local author).

A remarkable number of Canadian authors cite This All Happened as a favourite and/or inspiring book, for its fresh use of language and literary innovation. Others simply like its honesty.

The reception of This All Happened created a unique buzz around The Big Why: everyone who enjoyed Winter’s debut wanted to read this novel he (or his character Gabriel English) was writing in This All Happened.

The Big Why certainly lived up to this anticipation, and landed itself on both the Thomas Head Raddall and Trillium award shortlists, among other accolades.

Tonight at 7pm, Michael Winter, along with Mack Furlong and Jane Urquhart, will discuss books they’ve written based on the allure of Rockwell’s life and time on the island.

Elanor Wachtel will moderate. Tickets are $15