Anne Collett


Pauline Johnson is remembered principally as a recitalist whose stage career was pursued with enormous energy and remarkable good humour, not only throughout Canada, but also in the U.S. and England, during the last decade of the nineteenth and first decade of the twentieth centuries. She was indeed ‘encored time and time again’ in a variety of venues that ranged from celebrated concert halls of large cities to the local bam, school or church of isolated country towns. Although ‘The Song My Paddle Sings’2 is the poem immediately associated with her name — it is her signature piece — her personal, professional and political investment in the canoe is today little known and rarely recognised.3 Yet, as Douglas Reville recalls in his History of the County of Brant (1920): ‘To know her best was during one of her many canoeing trips in which she loved to indulge, for she was a past mistress in the art of manipulating that frail craft. The most turbulent rapids had no terror for her’.4



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