Presenting the Presenters – “Montreal’s Beaver Hall Group of Artists” and “The Convert” (Fall Forum #3)

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Montreal’s Beaver Hall Group of Artists

Shunned by traditionalists, young Montreal artists in the 1920s banded together to paint and sculpt in daring new styles emerging from Europe.  Strongly encouraged by A.Y. Jackson, they championed each other over the decades in the face of harsh criticism.  Recognition was slow in coming, but their contribution to Canadian art is now considered significant.

Sheila McCook was raised in Ottawa and graduated from Carleton university, after which she took up newspaper journalism in Brockville, Ottawa, and Winnipeg, then became a story producer at CBC radio in Winnipeg.  She is interested in classical music, literature, art and politics.   She joined the Academy in September 2022.

Stefan Hertmans’s “The Convert”

‘The Convert’ is a challenging work of fiction and exacting research. On the surface, it’s an 11th century story of a young woman from a distinguished Norman family in Rouen who falls in love with a Jewish rabbinical student. To escape her father’s knights, they flee to a tiny village in the Vaucluse, where the local rabbi offers them shelter. Terrible consequences follow. The imagined journey was inspired by an article concerning a fragment of an 11th century letter of safe passage, found in the Cairo Geniza.  Hertmans attempted the route himself.  History lesson, geography lesson and fiction combine to make “The Convert” utterly gripping.

Fran(ces) Bleviss was born, raised and educated in Toronto. She taught High School English and Art for the TDSB then taught at Blyth Academy, travelling in summer with Blyth students.  As an eternal student, she fed her own creativity by taking courses at OCAD. By travelling extensively, she kept herself an engaged learner.



Nov 01 2023


1:15 pm


Tartu College
310 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1W4