Week 33\’s 52 Ancestors prompt is \”Comedy\”. I though it would be interesting to steer people towards information for ancestors who were employed in the performing arts. Because of the nature of their work, sometimes it would be hard to find them in one spot for very long. Immediately you would think of actors and actresses when you think of theatre,. But there was a whole host of people behind the scenes. And don\’t forget their predecessors, the variety and vaudeville performers.
Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia
One of the first places you should look for your ancestor is the Canadian Theatre Encylopedia. This great website has an alphabetized list of mini bios. Among the list are those connected with the theatre both on and off stage. It also includes theatre companies, plays, and theatres themselves. Run by Athabasca University, it is constantly adding to their list. I saw Dan Akroyd, Mary Pickford, and The Edmonton Actors Theatre. If your ancestor isn\’t listed, there are instructions on how to submit their name and mini bio.
Library and Archives Canada
I did an Archives search on the LAC\’s website using the word \”theatre\”. I got over 15,000 results! Most of what they have is offline, but there are over 1000 items online. Among that are over 700 photographs you can access from home. Here\’s one from 1937 during the Dominion Drama festival. It shows actors from the play Heaven on Earth, performed by the Medicine Hat Little Theatre.
There are performing arts departments at many post secondary schools. Many of these would have an archives. You may get lucky and find that they may have archived not only materials from the school, but from local troupes as well. Here are a list of some Universities with theatre archive collections
- Dalhousie University
- University of Guelph
- York University
- Simon Fraser University
- University of Toronto
- University of British Columbia
- Provincial Archives of Alberta
- Archives of Manitoba
- Newfoundland\’s The Rooms
- Nova Scotia Archives
- Archives of Ontario
- Public Archives and Record Office of Prince Edward Island
- BAnQ (Quebec)
- Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan
- Yukon Archives