Biographical Outline

Herman Voaden – A Biographical Outline


1903 Born January 19, in London, Ontario to Dr. Arthur Voaden and Louisa Bale Voaden. Siblings: Carl, Fred and Violet.
1910 Voaden family moves to St. Thomas, Ontario.
1917 Herman portrays Shylock in an excerpt from The Merchant of Venice at the annual St. Thomas Collegiate school concert in the St. Thomas New Grand Opera House.
1920 Graduates from St. Thomas Collegiate. Enters Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
1923 Receives B.A (Honours) in English and History from Queen’s University. Medalist in English.
1924 Receives Teaching Certificate from College of Education, Toronto.
1926 Receives M.A. from Queen’s University. Thesis on American playwright Eugene O’Neill.
1927 Meets Violet Kilpatrick. Begins Doctoral programme at the University of Chicago and position as head of the English Department at Sarnia Collegiate Institute and Vocational School. Founding of the Drama Club of Sarnia.
1928 Founding of the Sarnia Drama League (SDL). Completes first play The White Kingdom. Accepts position as the head of the English Department at the Central High School of Commerce (CHSC) in Toronto, Ontario.
1929 Completes Northern Storm.
1930 Completes Western Wolf. Collaborates with Lowrie Warner on Symphony. First play anthology Six Canadian Plays is published. Attends Yale University until spring 1931.
1931 Completes Wilderness at Yale. Writes most of Earth Song.
1932 Completes and produces Earth Song at Sarnia Drama League. Rocks written and produced at CHSC.
1933 Travels to Europe and the Orient. Writes Hill-Land. Begins involvement with the Dominion Drama Festival (DDF).
1934 Establishes the Play Workshop. Hill-Land premieres at CHSC.
1935 June 21, marries Violet Kilpatrick, at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church, Toronto.
1936 Completes and produces Murder Pattern at the Play Workshop. The Play Workshop acclaimed as best drama school in Toronto by theatre critic Lawrence Mason. Directs critically acclaimed Canadian premiere of T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral at Queen’s University and Massey Hall, Toronto.
1937 Travels to England and Europe. Completes adaptation of Maria Chapdelaine. Begins writing Ascend As the Sun.
1938 Produces Maria Chapdelaine.
1939-1941 Completes writing Ascend As the Sun.
1942 Collaborates with Godrey Ridout on Ascend as the Sun for the Play Workshop at Hart House Theatre. Begins composing libretto for Frederick Jacobi’s opera The Prodigal Son, completing the work in 1944.
1944 Participates in the “March on Ottawa” and the establishment of the Canadian Arts Council (CAC), later renamed the Canadian Conference on the Arts (CCA).
1945 Runs in first federal election as a member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). Begins two-and-a-half year term as the founding President of the CAC.
1946 As CAC President, Voaden is an official delegate to the first UNESCO Conference in Paris.
1949-1950 Assists in the CAC submission to the Massey-Levesque Royal Commission.
1956 Assists in the CCA submission to the Royal Commission on Broadcasting.
1960 Last produced drama, Emily Carr premieres, featuring Amelia Hall in the title role, and is directed by William Angus at Queen’s University.
1964 Retires from teaching at CHSC.
1965 Receives the English Centennial Award.
1966 Becomes National Director of the CCA (until 1968). Assists in the CCA submission to the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. Emily Carr performed at the MacPherson Playhouse, Victoria, as part of the British Columbia Centennial Celebrations.
1968 Begins two-year term as President of the Canadian Guild of Crafts.
1970 Made a Fellow in the Royal Society of the Arts.
1974 Made a Member of the Order of Canada. Is rediscovered by Canadian theatre historians through his participation in the “Canadian Theatre Before the Sixties” Conference organized by the University of Toronto Graduate Centre for Study of Drama and York University.
1975 Look Both Ways and Murder Pattern are published.
1976 The Playwrights Co-op publishes Earth Song.
1977 Receives the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.
1984 December 9, death of Violet Voaden, one week before her 83rd birthday.
1987 Receives the Theatre Ontario Maggie Bassett Award. Heinar Piller produces Murder Pattern at George Brown Theatre, Toronto.
1988 Receives Honourary Doctorate from Saint Mary’s University, Halifax.
1989 Receives a Diplome d’honneur from the Canadian Conference of the Arts.
1990 Heinar Piller produces Murder Pattern at George Brown Theatre, Toronto.
1991 Died June 27, in Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, aged 88. Rocks revived at the University of Toronto Graduate Centre for Study of Drama, directed by Pamela McKay.
1992 Equity Showcase Theatre revives Murder Pattern, directed by Brian Quirt.
1993 A Vision of Canada: Herman Voaden’s Dramatic Works 1928-1945 published posthumously.
1996 Staged reading of Murder Pattern at the Shaw Festival Royal George Theatre, directed by Denis Johnston.
1997 CBC Radio broadcasts Shaw Festival Murder Pattern production. First bi-annual Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition at Queen’s University. Abbedan Theatre production of Hill-Land, University of Alberta, directed by David Owen.
2000 Revival of Rocks at A.Y. Jackson Secondary School, Toronto, directed by Pamela McKay.

More specific information is provided on the following pages:

Also available is the finding aid for his fonds in the York University Archives, including the file list of personal materials within this fonds.

Last Updated 2000/10/10