A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of E. Pauline Johnson

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Photograph of Pauline Johnson

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of poet, writer and entertainer E. Pauline Johnson, McMaster University will be hosting a symposium on March 8, 2013. In collaboration with the Indigenous Studies Program, the Department of English and Cultural Studies, the Department of History and the Wilson Institute of Canadian History, Chiefswood National Historic Site will honour her life, work and legacy by presenting poetry readings and a performance in Council Chambers, Gilmour Hall from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. McMaster University Library will exhibit documents, photographs and personal artifacts from the Pauline Johnson archives, housed in the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.

Pauline Johnson was born at Six Nations Reserve on March 10, 1862 and died in Vancouver on March 7, 1913. She was the daughter of George Johnson (Onwanonsyshon), a Mohawk chief of the Six Nations and Emily Susanna Howells, of Bristol, England. During her lifetime Johnson equally represented the dual parts of her heritage and adopted her grandfather's aboriginal name, Tekahionwake, meaning "double wampum”. A poet and platform entertainer, she received many invitations to recite her poetry in Canada, England and Europe. She gave dramatic recitations both in Native dress, highlighting Mohawk ancestry in her work and appearance, and in Victorian apparel. Johnson's first collection of poetry was published during her travels in England in 1895. The White Wampum includes one of her best-known poems, "The Song My Paddle Sings." Johnson’s poems and prose have appeared in a variety of magazines and newspapers, such as Saturday Night, Boys’ World, and Mother’s Magazine. She is also the author of Canadian Born (1903), Flint and Feather (1911) and Legends of Vancouver (1912).  Her funeral, the largest at that time in Vancouver history, was held on what would have been her 52nd birthday.

Written by Renu Barrett