Wilno native immortalizing local homesteads on canvas

WILNO – From time to time, a Wilno woman, who now lives in Ottawa, returns to her old stomping grounds to paint local homesteads and sceneries.  

It’s become a passion for Sheila (Burchat) Powers, who was born in Barry’s Bay but grew up in the small community of Wilno. She is the daughter of Doreen (nee Borutski) and the late Thomas Burchat (who passed away in 2014).

Powers has two younger brothers, Wayne, who lives in Woodstock, Ontario, and Randy, who lives in Cold Lake, Alberta. Her older sister, Cindy Stoppa, tragically passed away in a car accident in 1992, leaving behind a husband and two young children.

Powers attended St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School in Wilno and then Madawaska Valley District High School.

Her love of painting developed as a young girl.

“Art was always my favourite subject in school,” she said. “I remember being in my teens copying a picture that was hanging on my parent’s wall. It was one of those velvet style paintings with a waterfall and trees. I still have that first painting I completed.”

While working on that painting, she needed a new paintbrush. The Wilno General Store was about to close for the day, so she enlisted the help of her little brother to get on his bike and pick another brush up for her.

“He wiped out on his bike and needed stitches on his lip,” Powers recalled. “He still has that scar today.”

In 1988, she moved to Ottawa and took business-related courses at Algonquin College. In 1992, she began working as a legal assistant in Ottawa until 2004, when she studied to obtain her realtors license. She has been a realtor with Royal LePage Team Realty in Kanata ever since.

She enjoys the flexibility, but admitted that if she could ever transition full time to painting, “that would be a dream come true.”

Her passion for painting never wavered throughout the years, although she did go through different styles and focused on painting different subjects. 

Get your August 26, 2015 edition of The Valley Gazette to read the full story.