2013 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Theatre)
Eric Peterson is one of Canada’s most accomplished actors. In a career spanning over four decades he has portrayed a broad range of memorable characters, from a World War I flying ace in Billy Bishop Goes to War to left-wing lawyer Leon Robinovitch in Street Legal (CBC TV) and the irascible Oscar Leroy in Corner Gas (CTV). Through his long association with the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), he has been a strong advocate for indigenous Canadian production as well as “Status of the Artist” legislation at all levels of government here and globally.
Mr. Peterson was born in Indian Head, Saskatchewan in 1946 and launched his acting career in the early 1970s, most profoundly in Toronto’s groundbreaking Theatre Passe Muraille collective directed by Paul Thompson (2011 GGPAA). He has performed at most of Canada’s major theatres, including the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, the National Arts Centre (NAC), and Canadian Stage, and internationally at the Edinburgh Festival, on Broadway, in London’s West End, and at the International Theatre Festival in Melbourne, Australia. But Toronto is home and the scene of Mr. Peterson’s most recent creative endeavours: at Tarragon Theatre, The Company Theatre, Necessary Angel Theatre Company, Crow’s Theatre, and of course Soulpepper Theatre Company. He is best known to theatre audiences for his award-winning performance in Billy Bishop Goes to War, which he co-wrote and performed with Canadian playwright and composer John Gray.
The play premiered in Vancouver in 1978 and toured across Canada and internationally to unanimous acclaim. Mr. Peterson reprised the role in a 20th anniversary production (Canadian Stage/NAC) and again in 2009 (Soulpepper); the latter production was subsequently released as a feature film. For television, he has held leading roles in Street Legal (CBC) and Corner Gas (CTV) and supporting roles in This Is Wonderland (CBC) and Slings and Arrows (Showcase), and guest starred in such popular Canadian series as Murdoch Mysteries, Republic of Doyle, and The Rick Mercer Report. Awards and honours include Member of the Order of Canada (2010); five Gemini Awards; Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best Performance (1998); ACTRA Toronto Award of Excellence (2008); Earle Grey Award (2009); and an honorary doctorate from the University of Saskatchewan.