THIS MONTH IN ARTS HISTORY
The Canada Council for the Arts, Canada's national arts funding agency, is marking its 50th anniversary in 2007. To celebrate the contribution artists have made to the lives of Canadians, the Canada Council – in cooperation with the Historica Foundation and Bell Canada – is producing This Month in Arts History, a monthly look back at the people and events that have shaped Canadian culture.
1905: Painter Paul-Émile Borduas was born in Saint-Hilaire, Quebec. He was the leader of the Automatistes movement and the author of the Refus global manifesto.
1961: Singer k.d. lang was born in Consort, Alberta. An acclaimed pop vocalist and songwriter, and winner of four Grammies, she performed "Surrender" for the closing credits of the James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies.
1977: Painter William Kurelek died in Toronto. After converting to Roman Catholicism, he did a series of 160 paintings on the passion of Christ. He is perhaps best known for his classic illustrated children's books, including A Prairie Boy's Winter.
1997: Writer Mordecai Richler won the Giller Prize for his novel Barney's Version.
1811: Architect George Browne was born in Belfast, Ireland. His outstanding projects include Kingston City Hall and the second-empire Molson's Bank (now Bank of Montreal) in Montreal.
1988: The CBC Vancouver Orchestra's 50th year celebration featured the premiere of Chan, Ka Nin's The Land Beautiful.
1934: Choreographer and teacher Peter Boneham was born in Rochester, New York. He moved to Montreal in 1965, where he co-founded Le Groupe de la Place Royale, of which he was the long-time artistic director. He won a Governor General's Performing Arts Award for career achievement in 2005.
1990: Novelist Hugh MacLennan died in Montreal. He was a five-time winner of Governor General's Literary Awards: for Two Solitudes (1945), The Precipice (1948), Cross-country (1949), Thirty and Three (1954) and The Watch that Ends the Night (1959).
1817: Painter Théophile Hamel was born in Sainte-Foy, Quebec. As the government's "official painter", he did major portraits of politicians, notables and members of the clergy. He also painted historic figures and religious canvasses.
2002: Poet George Bowering was appointed Canada's first poet laureate. He has twice won a Governor General's Literary Award: in 1969 (poetry) for Rocky Mountain Foot and The Gangs of Kosmos; and in 1980 (fiction) for Burning Water.
1921: Soprano Pierrette Alarie was born in Montreal. After three years on contract with the Metropolital Opera, she moved to Paris in 1949, where she distinguished herself in a heavy European schedule. She returned often to Canada and made numerous appearances on CBC.
1965: Edmonton's Citadel Theatre opened with a production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
2004: Alice Munro won her second Giller Prize for her short story collection Runaway. She also won in 1998 for The Love of a Good Woman.
1951: The National Ballet of Canada gave its debut performance at the Eaton Auditorium in Toronto.
1606: Colonists at Port-Royal performed Marc Lescarbot's Le Théâtre de Neptune, the first play enacted on North American soil.
1994: Novelist Rudy Wiebe won his second Governor General's Literary Award for his novel, A Discovery of Strangers. The first was in 1973 for The Temptations of Big Bear.
1964: Jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia. At the 2006 National Jazz Awards she was named Jazz Vocalist of the Year.
1951: Actor Brent Carver was born in Cranbrook, British Columbia. Among many stage and film roles, he originated Gandalf in the stage production of Lord of the Rings and won a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical in the
1993 Broadway production of Kiss of the Spider Woman.
1941: Émile Nelligan died in Montreal. A sensitive poet in the romantic tradition, much admired in the late 19th century, he wrote for only a few years. From 1899 until his death he was confined in hospitals for the mentally deranged.
2002: The Art Gallery of Ontario announced a $500 million transformation.
Architect Frank Gehry led the redesign of the building.
1979: Antonine Maillet won the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary prize, for her novel Pélagie-la-Charrette. She was the first non-French citizen to receive it.
2002: Neil Bissoondath won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction for Doing the Heart Good.
1992: Actress Monique Mercure won a Genie Award for her role in David Cronenberg's film Naked Lunch.
1937: The Governor General's Literary Awards were established by the Canadian Authors Association under the patronage of then governor general, John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir. Buchan was himself a novelist and during his time in Canada wrote Sick Heart River, a story of a spiritual quest in the Canadian North that was published posthumously in 1941.
1970: Léopold Simoneau, often called the outstanding Mozart tenor of his generation, made his final public appearance with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in Handel's Messiah.
1963: Jazz singer Holly Cole was born in Halifax. She has described jazz as "classical music for people who are bad!"
1990: Novelist and playwright Réjean Ducharme won the inaugural $100,000 Prix Gilles Corbeil for his body of work.
1988: Novelist and playwright Robertson Davies won the Canada Council's Molson Prize for his contribution to the cultural and intellectual heritage of Canada.
1948: Quebec's Théâtre du Rideau Vert was founded. The oldest professional theatre in the province, it was named to challenge fate, as green is considered bad luck in the theatre.
Don't stop here. Google this month's featured artists to learn more about Canadian cultural history. And visit the Canada Council's 50th anniversary web site at www.50.canadacouncil.ca or the Historica Foundation's web site at www.histori.ca.
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