||June 16, 2006
Grey Owl’s Anahareo Remembered
With a strong aboriginal
population, Mattawa is recognizing its First Nations heritage in a plan for
ongoing annual “Cultural Gatherings”. The first of such events is taking place
today, tomorrow and Sunday celebrating the life of the remarkable native woman
Gertrude Bernard who was born one hundred years ago this Sunday, June 18, 1906.
She went on, after two decades in Mattawa, to become the wife and inspiration of
Grey Owl, Canada’s best-known author, lecturer, conservationist and naturalist
in the 1930s. She went on after his 1938 death to live for close to 50 years as
a conservationist in her own right achieving the Order of Canada in 1983 and
||Anahareo and pet beaver
The celebration will be
started today with a sacred fire and the 1999 Grey Owl movie will be shown at
the Champlain Theatre on Main Street. Annie Galipeau who played the part of
Anahareo opposite Pierce Brosnan in the 1999 Grey Owl movie is expected to be
present for the showing and throughout the weekend including the Mass Sunday at
St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church on Sunday.
As mentioned here recently
the Mattawa event coincides with the celebration of the life of Angele Egwuna, a
Teme-augama Anishnabi woman from Bear Island who was Grey Owl’s first wife and a
major influence on him. An exhibition, The Angele Project at the W.K.P. Kennedy
Public Art Gallery in the Capitol Centre runs Tuesday to Satruday from 11-5 to
July 13. It includes paintings, photographs, video, artifacts and ephemera
related to her life with Grey Owl and her life thereafter. Grey Owl besides
having a growing respect as a Canadian icon lives on in the large extended
family that grew from Angele through 5 generations to the present day.
||Annie Galipeau actress who
played Anahareo in 1999 Grey Owl movie
The link between Angele and
Anahareo goes back to 1925 when Anahareo was working at a lodge on Lake Temagami
and got to know Angele and Agnes and the itinerant Grey Owl who was visiting his
wife and daughter. Anahareo got to know Grey Owl and in 1926 went trapping with
him beginning a remarkable relationship that became the classic Canadian love
story told in books, plays, poetry and the 45 million dollar Grey Owl movie.
Archie Belaney went from
being an impoverished trapper to “the best known author and lecturer of his day”
in the 1930s. Gertrude Bernard, half his age, independent, intelligent and
opinionated, was what was needed to get Archie away from trapping and into
working with beavers, writing and lecturing. In spite of his success she did
not take a secondary role and even though she was there when he needed her, she
drifted away leading a life of her own.
Anahareo went to Prince
Albert Park with Grey Owl as conservationists and their daughter Dawn was born
in 1932 Thousands visited Beaver Lodge to see a dam, the beaver and other
animals. Movies were made and Archie began to write his four bestselling books
and numerous articles. Anahareo stayed in Prince Albert while he went on his
first lecture tour to England, the U.S. and Canada but by the second tour in
1937 she was gone from his life permanently. She was a liberated woman ahead of
her time and lived life to the full.
Anahareo remarried and
raised two other children and remained close to Dawn. Dawn was also an active
conservationist and with Anahareo worked on several causes together. Dawn and
her husband revisited many of the locations where Anahareo had lived, including
Mattawa and coincidentally died in Hastings, England, Archie’s birthplace, in
1983. Dawn wrote a book called Smoke about a Metis boy who raised a wolf when
the mother died due to poison.
Anahareo wrote a biography
in 1940 two years after Grey Owl’s death and wrote the successful Devil in
Deerskins in 1972 when there was a resurgence of interest in Grey Owl when the
conservation movement was growing.
Anahareo lived a full life
in spite of the problems of being a woman, native and a non-conformist during
The event on Explorer’s
Point starting at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow, June 17 includes the opening of an
expanded display in the museum, the unveiling of a Clermont Duval Painting,
recognition of the family, native activity, music, dance, drums, crafts and a
traditional native meal to mention only some of the activity. Check
www.culturalgathering.com for details.
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