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Paddle Song

  • Memorial Hall (within City Hall) 216 Ontario St (map)

Pauline Johnson was a trailblazing heroine, an enigmatic, ahead of her time, proud Mohawk Poet and performer of the late 1800’s. The daughter of a respected Six Nations Mohawk Chief, and an English mother, Pauline embraced her heritage and fiercely challenged the stereotypes of women, and Native peoples within her work. She fearlessly toured this unrelenting countryside, with her unique stage show for over 30 years, and was published and hailed by the literati in England at a time when the literary world was ruled by white men.

Her powerful story is brought to life in Paddle Song, an energetic, humorous, one-hour, one-woman musical which captures the heart and journey of young Pauline, canoeing the Grand River at home on Chiefswood, her promising career just beginning, to earning her place on stages in Ontario, then Canada, the United States and Great Britain.

Pauline endlessly fought for equality, acceptance, and respect as an Indigenous woman performer with a voice- in a man’s literary world. Paddle Song reflects the legacy Pauline carved out; an unparalleled mixed-blood persona that would influence Native Performers, and audiences, for decades to come. Her life’s work, a masterpiece accessible to all.

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“… filled with beautiful music and movement…the story reveals itself most compellingly through the dramatic performance…” - Marion Devries, Artistic Director, The Blyth Festival

By Dinah Christie and Tom Hill

Starring Cheri Maracle

Stage/Production Manager: Ashley Bomberry

Original Direction by Pam Mathews

Original Lyrics & Music by Dinah Christie

Musical Arrangements by Mark Rutherford, Justin Burgess, Brendan Peltier and Marc Nadjiwan-Merilainen

Original Costume Design by Erica Iserhoff

Slides by Trevor Schwellnus

Stage, Lights, and Sound provided by Thru the RedDoor

Earlier Event: July 30
Tales of an Urban Indian
Later Event: July 31
Paddle Song