Monday, 23 June 2014

Pauline Johnson

One of my book clubs decided to discuss an author instead of a book this month.

Pauline Johnson
And so, I read a biography written by Betty Keller.
It focused on Pauline's travels as a recitalist. 
  Her father had died and she never married, 
so she used this means to support herself and her mother.

Pauline was born in 1861 at Chiefswood, near Brantford.  Her father was a Mohawk chief and her mother was from a family of Quakers in England.  Although their marriage was opposed by both families, they were acknowledged as a leading Canadian family. They entertained guests such as Alexander Graham Bell, Homer Watson, Horatio Hale, and Lady and Lord Dufferin.

Her touring stories were interesting.  Remember, this was 1907!
p. 110  "On the chautauqua/lyceum tour circuit, performers have to be hardy.  They are hired for ten weeks of performance and are so tightly scheduled that they must travel steadily from town to town, delivering one or sometimes two performances before catching the train to the next performance stop.  They sleep on trains, catnap on park benches, and eat bean suppers in camp kitchens.  The show goes on whether it pours rain or blows a tornado; many of the campgrounds in the wet summer of 1907 are ankle-deep in soupy mud."
Sometimes there was a bridge out and they had to wait until it was repaired.  Lots of problems with the railway in 1907.
This tour was through the U.S. and Pauline was irate about her billing- "American Indian".  She was bitter about the U.S.'s treatment of the Mohawk after the War of Independence.  She was staunchly in favour of the British and thought anything American was inferior.
Pauline had difficulty paying her bills and often had to call on friends.  When she became sick, she
retired to Vancouver, where she depended greatly on the help of friends.
Pauline died from breast cancer in 1913 at age 51.
Her ashes were buried in Stanley Park where a marker has been placed.

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