As President of the Provincial Council of Women I was invited to the celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday sponsored by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honorable Elizabeth Doweswell.  I did not attend, but the following e-mail will lead you to a record of the events.On behalf of Her Honour the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, I am writing to thank you for your help in celebrating Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday.

I am delighted to share with you photos and video from Happy and Glorious: A Celebration of The Queen’s 90th Birthday, held in association with The Royal Conservatory of Music on Monday, May 16, 2016 at Koerner Hall in Toronto.
A photo gallery of the concert and reception is available on Flickr at
A playlist of selected performances is available on YouTube at
Watch the full-length video of Happy and Glorious on YouTube at

As we move towards celebrating Victoria Day and the Sovereign’s Official Birthday in Canada, you are invited to share these links with family and friends and on social media. Be sure to use the hashtag #HMTQ90 and follow Her Honour on Twitter at @LGLizDowdeswell. 

Our editor, Thelma McGillivray, has devoted this issue to arts and letters – a departure from the usual fare of this newsletter.  I hope you enjoy it.

“To conquer a country you don’t need guns You only need to kill its’ culture”  (Anonymous)

There are many areas where Council of Women members can and have had their voices heard on the crucial issues of the day.  Since 1893 and 1923, active women have been and are busy educating and focusing on many important issues, be they on the International, National, Provincial or Local Council level.  There is no shortage of needy causes, as our founder, Lady Ishbel Aberdeen observed 122 years ago.  However, there is one area that is seldom focused on in our newsletter as often as perhaps it should be.  That is, the recognition of Arts and Letters, which is the highlight of this issue of the Trillium.

It is a topic that is also timely, I think, as Councils are winding down after their annual meetings and looking forward to a well-earned summer respite.  So, we may wish to make time for visiting those wonderful cultural places, such as, art galleries, museums, opera houses, live theatre, literary discussions and libraries, which are waiting for our attention and pleasure and are locally accessible.  These resources flourish in vacation spots as well, so one can plan a day trip or a vacation spot where these facilities are open in smaller towns.

There is usually something that will suit every person’s interest.  As the opening Anonymous lines warns us, a healthy safe society must keep its’ culture alive.  Thus, we can enjoy many outlets and support the cultural life of our communities wherever we are.


In “The Splendid Vision: Centennial History of the National Council of Women of Canada, written by N.E.S. Griffiths, the author outlines a reference to Arts and Letters and Terms of Reference: 1956 (page 430)

  1. To encourage talent wherever found, and to stimulate popular interest in Art, Literature, drama and music, by the promotion of libraries, exhibits concerts, plays, etc.
  2. To support UNESCO and other agencies promoting international co-operation and goodwill by more widespread and sympathetic understanding of the cultures of other people.


I try to bring information about current artistic events to the attention of members.

The National Ballet of Canada will present the world premiere of “Le Petit Prince” in June.  The choreographer is Guillaume Cote, Principal Dancer with the company.  It will be beautiful!  The other part of the Summer Season is “Giselle”, also special.

I recently attended the Canadian Opera Company’s performance of Rossini’s Maometto 11”. This opera has been virtually ignored since its first performances in Naples in 1820 until it was revived by the Santa Fe Opera in 2012.  The Canadian Opera Company uses the Santa Fe sets and was fortunate enough to have the same glorious voices as the New Mexico cast: Leah Crocetto as Anna and Luca Pisaroni as Maometto.  The sets and lighting were most effective.  I particularly was impressed by the use of shadows to create the effect of a horde of troops in the battle scenes.

The Toronto Reference Library has a series of free talks in the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon. Two of the recent ones were a Star Talk with Donna Leon, the author or the Commissario Guido Brunetti detective series, and another Star Talk: “Celebrating 30 Years of Opera Atelier” with Artistic Directors Marshall Pynkosky and Jeanetter Lajeunesse Zingg.  Tickets (free) are required and can be obtained at   “” starting four weeks before the event.

Tafelmusik is presenting another Alison McKay’s creative imaginations of the Baroque Period:  Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig and Damascus Coffee House.”  The program announces “Its 1740 and coffee houses are the places to listen to music and share stories.”   The musicians have memorized the entire program!  The performances take place at Koerner Hall May 20, 21, 22 and at the Toronto Centre for the Arts on May 24.  Don’t miss this!

The National Ballet School is presenting its annual Spring Showcase at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis Street, on May 25, 26, 27 at 7:30 p.m., and at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on May 28.  This program celebrates the 20th Anniversary of John Neumeier’s “Yondering”.  These talented young dancers are not to be missed.

The Cineplex featured an amazing list of performances from the Metropolitan Opera 2015-2016 this past season. Featuring live was 11Trovatore, Otello, Tannhauser, Lulu, The Magic Flute, Les Pecheurs de Perles, Turandot, Manon Lescaut, Madama Butterfly, Roberto Devereux and Electra.  Be sure to check out the 2016-2017 series at your Cineplex theatre for tickets in July.


The Art Gallery of Hamilton ( just closed its spectacular exhibition of the “1920s Modernism in Montreal: The Beaver Hall Group”, on Mother’s Day, May 8.  This exhibition drew huge crowds to see these artists convey a sense of modernism in their work expressed through portraiture, figure studies and landscapes.  All the Beaver Hall women attended the Art Association of Montreal, the forerunner of today’s world-renowned Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which played an important role in art education during the first part of the Century.

One hundred years ago, it was difficult for a Canadian woman to become a professional artist in a male-dominated art world.  Society’s obsession with motherhood meant women were not taken seriously as professionals of any sort.

During the two World Wars, these women artists donated their work, be it in “war posters” or other paintings for fund-raising causes to assist the war effort.  Today, Beaver Hall paintings are increasingly sought after by collectors, galleries and large auction houses, such as Southby’s, where they fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars. (The Women of Beaver Hall by Evelyn Walters, 2005).

Coming next to the AGH is “The Artist Herself: Self Portraits by Canadian Historical Women Arts.”  It opens on Thursday, June 16, 2016. “The Artist Herself” brings together a collection of works that reveal how women artists defined themselves in Canada from the late eighteenth century to the early 1960s.  In exploring this topic, what better genre to examine than the self-portrait?  Yet, historically, limiting self-portraiture to a narrow traditional definition has marginalized or eliminated the works of many women artists.   We expand the genre’s definition by moving beyond the human face to propose other forms of self-expression, from both settler and indigenous perspectives. The exhibition is co-produced with the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, and co-curated by Tobi Bruce, AGH Director, Exhibitions and Collections, and Alicia Boutilier, Curator of Canadian Historical Art at the AEAC. (AGH exhibitions)

Also opening is “Landscapes from Krieghoff to the Group of Seven.”  If you are from out of town, the GO Train or Go Bus will get you very close to the gallery.  There is a comfortable café and an Art Store for your pleasure as well.  Parking is in the building if you are driving.


“Local councils such as Hamilton, Ottawa and Quebec paid great attention to artists and educational activities.” (The Splendid Vision, page 71-72).

The Women’s Art Association of Hamilton (WAAH) was formed in September of 1894 when Canada had only seven provinces.  The Mohawk poet, Pauline Johnson, was in town to give a public reading.  Horses pulled wagons and carriages throughout the streets.  The Farmers’ Market thrived then, as it does today.  Earlier, Hamilton’s first art gallery opened in 1860 in a second floor wing of the Crystal Palace in Victoria Park.

Two thousand women, over the course of 122 years, championed culture’s cause in Hamilton.  WAAH has a long history with the Art Gallery of Hamilton showing the annual WAAH art exhibition, the introduction of WAAH members’ works into the Gallery’s collection and donations of artwork and money to purchase art, which were beneficial to both groups. (Women’s Art Association of Hamilton established 1894: The First 100 Years by Stuart MacCuaig, 1996, 2009). The Hamilton and District Council of Women (HDCW) were proud to have had the WAAH as a member of Council (1894-2012).  Presidents from both organizations attended each other’s monthly meetings and art openings.


The Women’s Art Association of Canada is also celebrating their 100th anniversary on May 28-29 in its house at 23 Prince Arthur Avenue, Toronto.  Women’s Art was founded by Mary Ella Dignam, 129 years ago and they are planning their 130th anniversary in 2017. (Alice Fox, TACW) Historically, both the Hamilton and the Toronto Art Associations celebrated many occasions of art shows together.  There were also joint bus tours to art gallery openings in Canada and U.S. attended by mutual members, such as the AGO and the Tate Gallery in Buffalo.


The writer and poet T.S. Eliot once called libraries the “best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.”  Let us add, for children, youth and adults, to that brilliant statement.  “Ottawa Council paid attention to the establishment of a public library.” (The Splendid Vision, page 71-72). Library Science degrees have always been a career of choice for many university graduates.  But, recently it appears those qualified in this professional work are finding a lack of full-time employment. (Toronto Star, December 31, 2015, “Good jobs long overdue at library”).

It seems that library jobs have become part of the precarious new economy.  Who can think of a more important place than the library in your community?   Any time of the day or evening and weekends, that they are open to the public, children, youth and adults can be found using its facilities for their meetings, story time, using their computers, and other educational resources.  Recent cuts on library funding for staff, is an issue that goes right to the heart of supporting literacy. They cannot survive either without qualified librarian staff, any more than the resources within them.  When we visit our libraries over the seasonal-breaks and throughout the year, we could ask for the books we want, and if they are not there, request for them to be ordered. This is one way we can show the funders statistically how much we all depend on our libraries, for our knowledge, learning and entertainment needs.


“12 women shortlisted for banknote: group selected from more than 26,000 submissions”. (Toronto Star, April 30, 2016).  The Bank of Canada says it now has a list of a dozen women who could be featured on a new banknote.  The list, selected by an advisory council from public submissions, includes Emily Carr and Pitseolak Ashoona and authors Lucy Maud Montgomery, Pauline Johnson and Gabrielle Roy.  Also included are pioneering feminists Nelly McClung, Idola Saint-Jean and Therese Casgrain.  The list is rounded out with humanitarian Lotta Hitschmanova, aircraft designer Elsie MacGill, Olympian Bobbie Rosenfeld and pioneering businesswomen Viola Desmond.

The Bank says it has received more than 26,000 submissions nominating more than 460 women. A poll will be commissioned to gauge the views of the public on the list.  Then, the advisory council and experts will pare it down to three to five finalists for a selection by Finance Minister Bill Morneau.  The advisory council said it sought women who broke or overcame barriers, made a significant change, left a lasting legacy and are inspirational.  The new banknote is due out in 2018.  This should prove to be quite exciting recognizing unsung women of history who made Canada a better place. I think it would not surprise many of us to find past members of Council of Women among these esteemed women!


A Presentation at the 23rd Annual Adam Linton Memorial Lecture at the OMA AGM 2015 by Margaret Atwood.

Why do people everywhere, in all cultures make art?  Because we are people and that’s what people do.  The deep roots of what we now call the humanities are very, very old.  We do know that extremely young children soak up languages like sponges, that they show an interest in music and dance – melody and rhythm – very early, that they are inclined to use visual tools, such as crayons on the wallpaper, well before they have enough small-motor control to make recognizable pictures, and that they can understand a narrative sequence, a story, this happens, then this, before they can talk.

We can’t really know but it’s tempting to think that both musical systems and articulated languages are our oldest human technologies.  Music fosters bonding, and helps members of communities to feel and act together.

“The culture of community was (and still is) essential to our survival as a species because our mothers risk their lives (unlike other species) to give birth to big-brained but helpless infants who can grow old enough to reproduce our species only if they can learn how to be human.   We rely very little on instinct and almost entirely on learning for our young to grow old enough to sustain our species – and learning depends on a cultural context in which it can take place.  The hearth and the community that gathers around it – provide the cultural context that enables our young to grow to an age at which they will be able to continue the life of our species.”

How to be human, how to survive as a human: this is the core of the matter.  The core of community, the core of humanity, the core of the arts.  The instructive performances, back then, would have been multimedia:  they were enacted, sung and danced, as well as told; more impressive that.

Another positive result of the arts can be increased empathy – or feeling with.  Empathy enlarges our ability to understand other people, we are told; a valuable life skill if you are a member of a small interdependent group, as most people were until very recently.  And useful even today.  So, we come into the world equipped with nascent capabilities for “the arts.”  Inside every one of us is an artist of some sort.  Maybe not a very good artist, as a painter perhaps, but an artist, nonetheless.

So the arts are a given, and so are the healing arts.  We are a very social species.  We care for and about other human beings, and unless we are psychopaths, or have been told that certain groups are our dehumanized enemies, or have been hardened by traumatic experiences, the sight of other people suffering will cause us distress.  Right now, art is being used for healing once more as it was in earlier times.

Atwood divided her subject slightly.  That is, art that patients receive; then about art that patients create themselves; then about art made by doctors, an activity said to enhance their doctoring skills.  First, art that patients receive.  The therapeutic effects of music have been well known from ancient times (and is used in operating rooms.)  Another is visual; simply a view out a window onto a natural scene reduced illnesses and increased the rate of healing six-fold.  The next example has to do with the theatre.  People long to tell their stories, to have others tell their stories, especially war stories and tragic stories.  They want other people to know what it was like.

The art they do themselves varies from painting, i.e., by abused and traumatized kids to vets who were asked to make masks depicting their mental state.  The mask gives them a way to explain themselves; it unleashes words and reintegrates the left and right hemispheres. Thus, enabling them to discuss their feelings with their health givers.

Finally, the art that doctors do.  Studies that suggest exposure to art makes “physicians better communicators, more empathetic and enhances their diagnostic skills…bear witness to the suffering of others…and helps them advocate for change.”  Doctors have provided many well-known writers – medicine being entwined with narrative and also mystery stories, for example, what is the history of this disease?

THE READING CORNER:  We have an author among us.

Margaret Blair, is a member of the OASG.  Born in Shanghai she was interned by the Japanese from 1942-45.  She then travelled to Scotland and studied History at Glasgow University.  Margaret later completed her M.B.A. at the University of Toronto.  She has had three careers:  as a secondary school teacher, marketing researcher in the social and financial fields, and mother of three children who have three children of their own. Now retired, she and her husband reside beside a river among Mennonite farms in Southwestern Ontario.  Margaret has added a fourth career; writing.  An author of three books: Gudao, Lone Islet: A childhood memoir (2007), Shanghai Scarlet (2012) and Here Comes the Moon (2015)

I have enjoyed reading these books and I am sure you will too.  OASG is pleased to have Margaret an active part of our group.  She has already authored a 2016 resolution for the 123rd NCWC AGM– “Better Quality and Cruelty Free Meat.  ~editor


At Macassa Lodge in Hamilton on Sunday, May l, 2016, Dorothy passed away in her 91st year. Dorothy enjoyed a long and rewarding life.  In the Second World, she served in the RCAF (WD) during which time she met her husband.  Both remained long Legion members. A determined student, she completed her high school, undergraduate degree and Master’s degree in Education all while raising her family and working in Early Childhood Education.  Dorothy enjoyed working at and running pre-school programs as well as teaching ECE at Mohawk College.  She will be fondly remembered by students and colleagues alike.  Dorothy belonged to several women’s groups, among them, the Hamilton and District Council of Women and the Provincial Council of Women of Ontario. Once macular degeneration took her eyesight, she continued to contribute whenever she could, especially in the area of education and seniors issues.  In accordance with Dorothy’s wishes, cremation has taken place and no visitation or service was held.  Donations in Dorothy’s memory to the Dorothy Gordon Honorary Scholarship at the Mohawk College Foundation would be appreciated.  I personally met with Dorothy many times at Macassa Lodge where she was very contented, and at the Art Gallery of Hamilton lectures and exhibitions.  She never stopped walking until a few months ago, and continued to “read” with the assistance of the CNIB.  Dorothy had a good life and contributed to society in many ways.

The National Council of Women of Canada is holding its 123rd Annual General Meeting June 9-12, 2016 at the Park Town Hotel, Saskatoon.  The theme is “Empowering Women Together”.

International Council of Women’s Leonie Christopherson, ICW-CIF Advisor for Arts and Letters has requested that Canada, along with other respective countries that involve art in any of its forms, send along their reports. ICW has sent their Arts & Letters Report 2016 –“Can art stop a bullet”? Her report includes reports on activities from Australia, India, Israel, France, Great Britain, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and Ukraine.  Leonie adds, “Once again, could I urge Councils to use Arts & Letters to bring about change for the better as part of ICW’s theme “Transforming Society through Women’s Empowerment”.  As with music, arts and letters can lift the spirit and cartoons can make us laugh and communicate without words.  Please contact me if you have stories to share.” Leonie Christopherson AM DSJ Australia.
Her report is too lengthy to include here, if any reader is interested I will be pleased to forward it to you.

I wish all of you a wonderful summer.

Thelma McGillivray, editor

President                                          Editor

Mary Potter                                      Thelma McGillivray

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