Canada Council for the Arts celebrates 50 years

The Canada Council for the Arts, Canada?s national arts funding agency, is marking its 50th anniversary in 2007. To celebrate the contribution artists have made to the lives of Canadians, the Canada Council ? in cooperation with the Historica Foundation and Bell Canada ? is producing This Month in Arts History, a monthly look back at the people and events that have shaped Canadian culture.

This Month in Arts History – January

January 2 1929: Painter Allen Sapp was born at Red Pheasant Reserve, Saskatchewan. A Cree, he is recognized as one of Canada?s foremost Aboriginal artists. He won the Governor General?s Literary Award (children?s literature, illustration) in 2003.

January 4 2006: Poet Irving Layton died at Montreal. Twice nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature (1982, 1983), he won a Governor General?s Literary Award (poetry) in 1959 for Red Carpet in the Sun and Europe?s Petrarch Prize for career achievement in 1993.

January 5 1937: Russian composer Igor Stravinsky appeared at Massey Hall, Toronto. He was guest conducting the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in a performance of his signature works Firebird Suite and Petrushka.

January 6 1929: Regina?s Darke Hall auditorium opened.

January 9 1802: Pioneer writer Catharine Parr Trail was born at London, England. Her most famous book, The Backwoods of Canada, is a factual account of her first three years in the bush.

January 11 1974: After leading the company for more than 20 years, Celia Franca retired from the National Ballet of Canada. She won a Governor General?s Performing Arts Award in 1994.

January 12 1920: Sculptor Bill Reid was born at Vancouver. Returning to his Haida roots, he was a leader in unlocking the lost secrets of Northwest Indian culture. He won the Saidye Bronfman Award for excellence in the crafts in 1986.

January 13 1959: Soprano Lois Marshall sang in the opera Peter Grimes on CBC, a television première.

January 15 1895: The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, founded by Augustus Stephen Vogt, gave its first concert at Massey Hall, Toronto.

January 17 1917: Composer Oskar Morawetz was born at Svetla, Czechoslovakia. He is one of Canada?s most frequently performed composers. Over 130 orchestras world-wide have performed his work.

January 19 1998: Novelist Austin Clarke won the inaugural Rogers Writers? Trust Fiction Prize for The Origins of Waves. In 2002 he won the Giller Prize for The Polished Hoe.

January 21 2000: Anne Carson became the first woman to win the UK?s £10,000 T. S. Eliot Prize for her poetry collection, The Beauty of the Husband. In 2001 she won Canada?s $40,000 Griffin Poetry Prize for Men in the Off Hours.

January 22

1908: James Sinclair Ross was born at Shellbrook, Saskatchewan. His novels, of which As for Me and My House is the most famous, uniquely capture the harshness of prairie life during the Great Depression.

January 24

1927: Philanthropist and architectural designer Phyllis Lambert was born at Montreal. In 1979 she established the Canadian Centre for Architecture as a museum and research centre.

January 26

1957: His Excellency the Rt. Hon. Vincent Massey, Governor General of Canada, laid the foundation stone of the Stratford Festival?s permanent Festival Theatre, which replaced the original tent.

January 27

1850: Sculptor Louis-Philippe Hébert was born at Sainte-Sophie de Mégantic, Quebec. A commission in 1881 to sculpt a figure of Charles-Michel de Salaberry, made him the first Canadian artist to sculpt a Canadian historic figure and the first to work in bronze.

January 30

1985: Constitutional lawyer, political activist and accomplished poet Frank Scott died at Montreal. Scott translated a great deal of Quebec poetry into English. In 1977 he won a Governor General?s Literary Award (non-fiction) for Essays on the Constitution.

January 31

1965: Cellist Ofra Harnoy was born at Hadera, Israel. She immigrated to Canada at age 6. In a career that has taken her around the world, she has recorded more than 40 solo albums and premiered many important cello works.

Don?t stop here. Google this month?s featured artists to learn more about Canadian cultural history. And visit the Canada Council?s web site at or the Historica Foundation?s web site at