The game is six degrees of Canadian history. Take two seemingly unrelated pieces of Canadian culture and connect the dots through various people, places and events to discover how they’re distantly — or maybe not-so-distantly — related. Along the way, we visit the quizzical and curious, the tragic and comic, and everything in between.
Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe, née Gwillim, author and illustrator (baptized 22 September 1762 in Northamptonshire, England; died 17 March 1850 in Devon, England). Elizabeth was the wife of John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada. She was an author and illustrator, renowned for her detailed diary and pictures depicting life in early Upper Canada.
Rodney Graham, artist (born 16 January 1949 in Abbotsford, BC). Known for his conceptual sculpture, text-works, photography and films, Rodney Graham is associated with a group of Vancouver artists that includes Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace, Ken Lum, Stan Douglas and Roy Arden. Graham is especially notable for the ways in which he incorporates various technologies, and the history of technology, into his artworks.
Ken Lum is widely known for work that draws upon traditions from pop and conceptual art, as well as a broad range of motifs from mass culture. His art, which has variously included painting, sculpture, installation, photography, and video, has been recognized in Canada with a 30-year retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery and exhibited abroad at major international art galleries and festivals.
Jeff Wall is internationally renowned for his large, complex, back-lit photographs which address a variety of issues, including the circumstances of Indigenous peoples in Vancouver. Academically trained in art history, Wall is the best known member of a group of artists that has come to be known as the Vancouver School.
Idola Saint-Jean, feminist and pioneer in the fight for women’s suffrage (born 19 May 1880 in Montréal, QC; died 6 April 1945 in Montréal). The first woman from Québec to run as a candidate in a federal election, she devoted over 20 years of her life to active efforts to improve women’s legal rights.1
An artist of colour closely associated with the Vancouver School, Stan Douglas examines the complexities of social reality and history and the means by which they are represented. While his initial reputation was as a video and installation artist, more recently he has been acclaimed for his large format back-lit photographs of elaborately re-staged historical scenes.
The Dancers of Damelahamid are a First Nations dance collective from the Northwest coast of British Columbia, traditional territories of the Gitksan nation. Damelahamid refers to the origins of the first ancestor, Hagbegwatku, and the land granted the Gitksan when their ancestors were placed on earth. It is a geographic location near Hazelton, BC, where the 'Ksan Historical Village and Museum is found.
George Hunt, ethnographer and museum acquisitions collector (born 14 February 1854 in Fort Rupert, BC; died there September 1933). He is best known for his work with anthropologist Franz Boas; together they documented the language, rituals and customs of Hunt’s people, the Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl). Hunt's rich ethnographic notes and artifact collections provided the first ethno-history of the Kwakwaka'wakw culture.