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One-woman show celebrates life of Pauline Johnson

Brant News

ByNatalie Paddon

A one-woman historical drama documenting the life of First Nations poet and performer E. Pauline Johnson will be performed at the site of her childhood home next month.

Paddle Song, featuring Six Nations actress Cheri Maracle as Johnson, will showcase much of Johnson's life in one hour, said Brad Melle, cultural co-ordinator at Chiefswood National Historic Site.

“They've done it all around Ontario, but never at her childhood home, so it's really fitting,” said Melle.

The performance will be held on an outdoor stage at Chiefswood, 1037 Highway 54, Ohsweken, on August 14, 16 and 17 at 8:30 p.m.

The play contains a light show so organizers want the performance to be held in the dark, said Melle.

Tickets cost $10 and can be reserved by calling Six Nations Tourism at 519-758-5444 or visiting or calling Chiefswood at 519-752-5005 from Tuesday to Sunday.

An open house will be held prior to the shows at 8 p.m. for visitors to tour the site.

While she eventually settled in Vancouver, Johnson was born in Chiefswood Mansion in 1861 and grew up there.

“The forest and the (Grand) River were Pauline's original inspiration,” said Melle. “The person who she became, this is where it all started.”

The daughter of Chief George H.M. Johnson and his English bride, Emily Howells, Johnson is known for having “bridged two cultural worlds” between her European and First Nations backgrounds, said Melle.  

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