Author, Arts & Heritage
Attended KCSS • 1971–1976
I’ve always had a passion for theatre and story-telling, and so was especially delighted to discover that I could combine both to impart the history of some remarkable, but unknown, Canadians – and that I’d find a responsive audience! One of the first people to encourage me to develop the stories of historical figures by writing dramatic texts (essentially one-woman shows) about them was my KCSS English teacher, Charles Truax, whose warmth, humour and insights were invaluable. I’m also grateful to have been blessed with a mother who was also a writer and used to set writing assignments whenever I complained of boredom during the summer holidays.
Although I attended Glendon College, York University, after graduating from King City Secondary, I left after two years to travel in Europe. I discovered the truth in Virginia Woolf’s statement “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans” and didn’t return to university (Acadia University in Nova Scotia) until I was a single parent in my early 30s. The university experience, however, was a much richer one than it had been at 18, and I was amazed to discover that I excelled! In fact, I liked it so much that, after getting my B.A. in Theatre Studies, I stayed and got my M.A. in English.
Inspired by memories of the annual KCSS trips to the Stratford Festival, I became one of the five people who created the Atlantic Theatre Festival – a home in Wolfville, Nova Scotia for the classics of the world stage, from Aeschylus to the present day. I’ve also been involved with various heritage and cultural groups, including the Joseph Howe Initiative, to remember the man who brought responsible government to Nova Scotia (the first colony in the British Empire to achieve it), and to further discussions of democratic reform, freedom of speech and freedom of the press – all of which are under threat in our world today.
I returned to school again in 2003 to complete a M.Ed. in counselling, graduating in October 2004. My plan, with Virginia Woolf’s words always in mind, is to open a private practice as a therapist, using creative arts therapies with those who feel marginalized or without a voice. And as a freelance writer I will continue to find and tell the stories of unknown Canadians. So far, my articles have been published in newspapers and publications such as Maclean’s, The Beaver and Saltscapes, and on the small screen for History Television.
I’ve made my home in Nova Scotia since 1985, where I’ve discovered a more sane pace of life, a strong sense of community, a rich resource of untold stories and some fascinating characters! I’m a great believer that to take things lightly and to take things seriously are not necessarily mutually exclusive. By striking the right balance, we might renew interest in our stories and our culture, while emphasizing that heritage and culture are integral parts of our community and national identity – not items to be negotiated away at trade talks.
Written – October 2005