Homer Watson History & Archives

Homer Watson: Hearing Loss

Homer Watson sitting next to a “hose” hearing aid, 1935. HWHG Permanent Collection.
Homer Watson wearing an early electric hearing aid. HWHG Permanent Collection.

As Homer Watson aged, he eventually began to lose his hearing. It was one of the reasons he began to withdraw from public life and a factor in his resignation as President of the Royal Canadian Academy. This is noted in a letter written to artist Percy Erskine Nobbs:  

I have your letter of Nov. 4 and note what it says in regard to the difficulties ahead in the matter of Academy business and my physical incapacity to cope with it. I have been thinking lately about this and have retired from several associations owing to my growing deafness. I shall be happy to call on Mr. Sproatt to act at the forthcoming meeting. I also wish to vacate the presidency in favor of Mr. Reid or anyone else who would be in favor of the majority. 

One frustration Homer had due to his hearing was that there were those who were willing to scam him or take advantage of him. In one instance he ran into a conflict with the Sterling Trust and Kitchener Finance Corporation when an agent supposedly swindled him into purchasing more shares than he had money to buy.  

The agent took advantage of my deafness and wrote me down for more than I had money to buy. I did not think of course he would write me down for more shares than what I told him I had cash available to purchase and I carelessly did not read over the paper as I supposed the paper was drawn up in accordance with what I told him. 

The treatments he sought to remedy his hearing problems involved using an “audiophone” hearing aid, but he also sometimes used an old piece of hose to listen through. Regardless of his ability to hear, according to Miller “his deafness in no way affected his work as, with his old concentration and dedication, he threw himself into his painting in what would turn out to be his vigorous last period.”  

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