She is a legendary figure in Prince Albert. Her name was immortalized by the naming of the multipurpose recreational centre after her. She was born Marguerite Helen Leblond on August 16, 1919 in Rosthern and grew up in Rosthern and Prince Albert. Margo Fournier is well known for her life work of fostering musical and athletic talents in many generations of Prince Albert youth.
In her youth, Margo studied piano, voice and ballet and was an accomplished singer and dancer. At the suggestion of her future husband, Margo joined the RCAF as an entertainer during World War II, touring bases in Canada, Britain, and continental Europe. She was the first woman to enlist as a performer. Margo was part of the ‘All Clear’ show. In May 1945 she married Prince Albert’s L.J. “Pluke” Fournier, of the Canadian Auxiliary Corps, in Glasgow, Scotland. Margo and Pluke raised seven children. They instilled a love of music and of community in their children.
Margo Fournier became known as a take-charge music teacher and conductor of boys and girls, student nurses, church and local penitentiary inmates choirs. She founded the local Music Festival Association and, in the early 1960s, helped organize and was president of the local Jeunesses Musicales group. In September 1965, she was named to the Saskatchewan youth Review Committee. Margo Fournier is best known as the founder and director of the Prince Albert Boys’ Choir, which received national and international recognition. For over 30 years she held this position. Under her direction, her Boys’ Choir performed for four Prime Ministers. With her husband’s guidance, she also taught and coached swimming and diving. Margo’s contribution to the city of Prince Albert was recognized in 1964 with her Citizen of the Year Award and in 1983 she was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada. She died on July 22, 2000.
John V. Hicks
Mr. Hicks was a Canadian poet. He was born in London, England, but his parents immigrated to New Brunswick while he was still an infant. The Hicks family later settled in Montreal where Hicks wrote that he discovered as a boy “the very first whisper of the magic of writing.” Although he did not like to travel, Hicks moved to Alberta then to Saskatchewan, and finally settled in Prince Albert where he pursued his profession as an accountant and, over the course of his lifetime, accomplished many artistic achievements.
Hicks began writing poetry in the 1930s; however, he was 71 before he decided to publish his first volume of poetry in 1978. Despite his late start, John Hicks quickly gained distinction in Canadian literary circles and enjoyed part of his “fifteen minutes of fame” as a frequent guest on Peter Gzowski’s Morningside on CBC. He was also an active member of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild and the League of Canadian Poets.
Hicks criticized the vulgarity of modern life and, true to his values, lived modestly. He never owned as television set or a vehicle, preferring to walk, even in the most frigid weather. Behind Hicks’ old fashioned exterior he held a lifelong passion for various forms of literature, J.S. Bach, opera, the Anglican Church, and loved boxing, baseball, model trains ‐in which he had a small layout in his basement‐, pizza and sherry (together of course), as well as dessert of any kind.
For Hicks, poetry and music were undeniably linked. He performed what he considered to be “active worship” as an organist at St. Albans Cathedral for 60 years. It was his intense spirituality that provided Hicks with everlasting inspiration for his poetry. In total, Hicks published nine volumes of poetry that illustrated the difficulties and joys being an artist. His life paralleled that of T. S. Eliot, whom Hicks emulated in his own writing.
Though Hicks never formally taught poetry or music, he participated in afternoon teas at the Prince Albert Arts Centre almost daily where he served as a mentor for aspiring artists. Here, his ability to recognize talent drew many young people to him for a review (or a preview). It was Hicks who encouraged the tenor Jon Vickers to pursue a singing career.
Although Hicks never attended university, he was rewarded for his contributions to the arts with an Honorary Doctorate in Literature from the University of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, a lifetime award for excellence from the Saskatchewan Arts Board and several other praises. John
Hicks was appointed Prince Albert Writer‐in‐Residence in 1978, where he was held in high esteem and was often described as the city’s most distinguished living citizen.
Even into his late 80’s John continued to live in his home, where neighbors and friends would provide him with food, company, and maid services. Though he never had any children, John never blew off a chance to have a conversation with a youngster.
John Victor Hicks died on June 16, 1999 at 92 years of age. He was married to Marjorie (Kisbey) Hicks, who predeceased him in 1986. A portrait sculpture by Hans Holtkamp can be seen at the Prince Albert Arts Centre.
Works of John Hicks’ poetry published by Saskatoon’s Thistledown Press:
• Now Is A Far Country (1978) • Winter Your Sleep (1980)
• Silence Like The Sun (1983) • Rootless Tree (1985)
• Fives and Sixes (1986) • Sticks and Strings (1986)
• Months Mind (1992) • Overheard by Conifers (1996)
• Renovated Rhymes (1997)
In 1946, Ed Rawlinson was offered the opportunity to buy Radio Station CKBI in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Having long been fascinated by radio, he seized the opportunity and thus seeded the foundation of what became one of the most successful group operations in Canadian broadcasting. As the originator of some stations and the purchaser of others, the Rawlinson group spread its wings from Alberta to Ontario, with radio and TV stations in some of Canada’s most important markets ‐ CKBI‐AM/CFMM‐FM Prince Albert, CJNB North Battleford, CJNS Meadow Lake, CJME‐AM/CIZL‐FM Regina, CKOM‐AM/CFMC‐FM Saskatoon, CFFR Calgary, CFGO‐AM/CJMJ‐FM, Ottawa and CISS‐FM Toronto. CKBI‐TV, which the Rawlinson’s’ founded in 1958 was sold to the Shamrock Television System, a subsidiary of Baton Broadcasting.
Ed Rawlinson was prominent in many organizations ‐ President of the Western Association of Broadcasters, a Director and Member of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. In the Prince Albert community, he served on several boards and committees including, among others, Chairman of the Board of Governors of Victoria Hospital, President of the Chamber of Commerce and a member of the University Of Saskatchewan Board Of Governors. As a chartered accountant, (a Fellow Chartered Accountant), he became President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. He was awarded the Centennial Medal in 1967.
In 1985, Ed Rawlinson was inducted into the CAB Broadcast Hall of Fame. He died in 1992.
Written by J. Lyman Potts – April, 1996
The estate of Ed Rawlinson donated more than 1 million dollars to help the community build the E. A. Rawlinson Centre of the Arts and it is with great pride that this building bears his name.
Mama Bear gave selflessly for the betterment of her community Deceased: March 4, 2004
Written By Heather Andrews Miller
Bernice Sayese has been gone almost seven years now, taken far too young at age 52. But the work she began is continuing. The Métis woman, who was affectionately known as Mama Bear for the way she took all youth into her loving care, was born on June 5, 1951 in Glenmary, a Métis settlement located north of Kinistino, Sask. She lived most of her life in Prince Albert, a city that was enriched by her involvement in numerous organizations and institutions. She was mother to Shauna, Michael and James and unofficial mother to many of the youth of Prince Albert. Her untimely death on March 4, 2004 from cancer was mourned by friends and family, the citizens of Prince Albert, and countless others whose lives she touched.
One of her proudest moments occurred when she received the 2002 Prince Albert Citizen of the Year Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to society, becoming the first Aboriginal women ever to receive the award. She was lovingly nominated by her daughter Shauna, who at the time stated that she had wanted her mother to be considered for the honour because she never blew her own horn so someone else had to do it on her behalf.
Sayese received the Citizen of the Year Award with humility, wondering why she was being singled out for recognition when there were so many others equally as deserving, and was thankful for receiving the honour not because it recognized her efforts, but because it shone a light on the contributions being made by Aboriginal people in general. The list of community organizations with which Sayese was involved is a long and impressive one and includes the Play and Learn Daycare, the Integrated Youth Committee, the Métis Fall Festival, the Saskatchewan Child Nutrition Network, Won‐ Ska Cultural school, the Prince Albert Indian and Métis Friendship Centre, the Saskatchewan Police Commission and numerous others.
Sayese was a founding board member of the Prince Albert and Area Community Foundation, the Interval House Safe Shelter for Women and Children’s Haven. She helped establish a lodge for homeless men and served as a community development officer with the City of Prince Albert and as a member of the Mayor’s Task Force on Race Relations. But the work for which she will always be especially remembered is the Voices of the North talent show, first held as part of the Prince Albert Winter Festival in 1992. Originally begun by Sayese, Sheryl Kimbley, Julie Roy and others as a way to showcase Aboriginal performers from northern Saskatchewan, the event proved so successful that talent from across Saskatchewan and beyond soon began to audition for the show. Sayese opened up the program to all genres of music, whether it was country or rock or jazz.
Last year’s edition of Voices of the North, the fourteenth running of the show, promoted the theme of “Celebrating Our Diversity” and reflected the differing musical genres which the show has grown to feature. This year’s event, to be held on February 15 to 17, promises to continue this diversity, which would without doubt meet with Mama Bear’s approval. Sayese is credited with coming up with the vision for the talent show as a way to promote and support youth in the performing arts because she recognized what having an opportunity to perform could do to a young person’s confidence. A number of performers that got their start through Voices of the North have gone on to great success in their musical careers and credit the show with giving them much‐valued exposure. Chester Knight, Ray Villebrun, Vern Cheechoo, Krystle Pederson, Jay Ross and Teagan Littlechief are just some of the performers who have graced the Voices of the North stage over the years.
Through her involvement in Voices of the North, Sayese did more than just give fledgling artists a place to perform. Many times she became a guardian angel to band members, watching them, helping them find their audience and encouraging them in their chosen career. She cared about each and every one of them, and recognized that the music they performed for the show could pull some of them out of undesirable lifestyles. Sayese made sure that every guitar player had a gig for the upcoming weekend and kept each in mind when hearing about a job that would suit a particular individual. She remembered birthdays, anniversaries and graduations and kept a supply of spare guitar strings on hand just in case. Former Saskatchewan MP Rick Laliberte got his start in the entertainment world at Voices of the North, and served as master of ceremonies for the event for several years after making the jump from entertainer to politician. To mark the tenth anniversary of the event in 2002, Laliberte presented a guitar to Sayese as a symbol of all she had done for Aboriginal music.
When Voices of the North was held in 2004, just weeks before Sayese’s passing, the guitar was placed on stage as a tribute to Mama Bear, alongside a teddy bear draped with a Métis sash. That guitar has had a place on the Voices of the North Stage each year since as an ongoing tribute to Sayese and her years of work and dedication to making the event a success Those who have taken over the organization of the talent show have vowed to ensure the guitar remains as a remembrance of Sayese at every show in the future.
Annabel Taylor was born in Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan on December 16th, 1937 and lived as a resident of Prince Albert from 1961 to 2003. She made significant contributions to the community as an artist, educator, and volunteer. As a visual artist, Annabel’s preferred medium was fiber arts and she produced an impressive and expansive body of work that included tapestries, wall hangings, and many utilitarian items. She worked primarily with wool, which she would collect from friends who had a sheep farm and practiced natural dying, using many local flowers and lichens to produce an array of coloured wools and fleeces. Alongside her own artistic production, Annabel shared her skills and experiences with aspiring artists and crafters through her work as an educator.
Annabel obtained degrees in Home Economics (University of Manitoba, 1958) and Social Work (University of Regina, 1975), and contributed to those fields before deciding to seriously pursue visual art. Her artistic training was formed through courses at the University of Saskatchewan and many workshops in everything from fibers to printmaking, photography to basket weaving that she took throughout her artistic career. Striving to study with some of the best instructors of the times, Annabel traveled all over Canada and the United States to attend workshops. Annabel spent the late 1970s and early 1980s building her teaching CV as an instructor for the Natonum Community College (Prince Albert), Prince Albert Arts Center, and the renowned Emma Lake Campus. During these formative years as an instructor, she developed and instructed twelve classes that covered the topics of spinning, dyeing and weaving, obtained funding for the acquisition of equipment and the development of suitable classroom and studio space at the Prince Albert Arts Center, and assisted in the establishment of Fiber Week at the Emma Lake Campus. From 1987‐1998, Annabel worked for the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology Woodland Campus in their thriving applied arts department as an instructor in their weaving program, as a program developer and writer, and as a coordinator of the applied arts department.
Throughout her career, Annabel sold her artworks to public and private collections, most notably to the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the Saskatchewan Craft Council, the Little Gallery, and to the City of Prince Albert, who gifted her work to H.R.H. Princess Margaret. She participated in a number of exhibitions throughout the province in travelling exhibitions with the Saskatchewan Craft Council and the Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils, as well as at the Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon), and the Dunlop Art Gallery (Regina) . She shared studio space and gallery walls with other celebrated Saskatchewan artists including George Glenn, Charley Farrero, Winona Senner, Michael Hosaluk, and Aganetha Dyck. Her works were well known locally, and were celebrated through several solo exhibitions at Prince Albert’s own Little Gallery (which later evolved into the Art Gallery of Prince Albert, and finally, the Mann Art Gallery).
As a volunteer, Annabel was instrumental in helping build many of the arts organizations that continue to be of great importance in Prince Albert today. She worked as a founding member of the Prince Albert Spinners and Weavers Guild (1982/1998), Saskatchewan Spinners and Weavers Guild (1994/1998), and served on the board of directors for the Saskatchewan Craft Council (1979/1998). As a driving force for the arts in Prince Albert, Annabel was a member of the Prince Albert Council for the Arts (1975/1998), advocated for a community exhibition facility (1980/1984), and preformed curatorial, preparatory, grant writing, and administrative duties for the Little Gallery (1976/1984). In 1990, Annabel was honoured for her volunteer contribution to the arts community through the prestigious Saskatchewan Volunteer Recognition Award for Culture.
Annabel left Prince Albert for Ontario in 2003 and on May 6th, 2006 she passed away in Deep River, Ontario at the age of 68. A memorial was held for her in Prince Albert at the Mann Art Gallery on July 27th, 2006 and her life was celebrated in the company of artists from across the province whose lives she had impacted as a colleague, mentor, teacher, and friend. It is with great pride that the Mann Art Gallery presents Annabel to the E.A. Rawlinson Center’s Walk of Fame, that present and future generations of artists and art lovers may be reminded of those whose inspired contributions achieved artistic excellence in our Community.