Deborah Dunleavy Receives Literary Grant
Canada Council for the Arts.
For close to 30 years upbeat danceable songs of children’s recording artist and performer Deborah Dunleavy filled classroom gymnasiums, concert halls and libraries far and wide. But whatever happened to the “Queen of the Schoolyard”? Where did she go these past 15 years?
In 1998 Ms Dunleavy hung up her hokey pokey shoes and turned her talents to storytelling, to the art of the barebones theatre of the mind. Since that time she has gone on to create numerous storytelling programs for young people and adults. Her tours have taken her abroad to Ireland, Scotland and Singapore.
In 2009 she was invited to tour Labrador as storyteller for the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week.
Last year alone Ms Dunleavy wrote and toured two one-woman storytelling performances. In “Battlefield Petticoats” she played four women who lived during the War of 1812. “At The Canoe Club Dance” was a two act performance based on the lives of seniors she interviewed while Storyteller-in Residence at the Arthur Child Heritage Museum in Gananoque, Ontario.
Ms Dunleavy is a current recipient of a Literary Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.
“This is an incredible honour,” says Dunleavy. “For years I have wanted to research and write about Isobel Gunn and now I am able to dedicate my time to this amazing story.” Dunleavy writes:
“In the summer of 1806 a young Orkney woman disguises herself as a man and under the name of John Fubbister joins up with the Hudson Bay Company. She goes in pursuit of her one true love, an Orkney lad by the name of John Scarth. She faces the perilous crossing of the Atlantic arriving months later at the northern outpost of Fort Albany [on James Bay]. Working alongside the men she carries out the grueling responsibilities and later journeys overland to Pembina. By December of that year she can no longer keep her sex a secret. She gives birth to a baby boy in the cabin of Alexander Henry, chief of the post. It is then that she reveals her true identity and takes on the name Isobel Gunn. In time Isobel is sent back to the Orkney Islands where she dies destitute and alone.”
Ms Dunleavy resides in Brockville, Ontario where she is the founding member of the 1000 Islands Yarnspinners and she is the Eastern Canadian Representative for the Storytellers of Canada/ Conteurs du Canada.