Frances Hyland (1927-2004)

1994 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Theatre)

"I think you ought to come home a while," said Tyrone Guthrie to the young actress from Saskatchewan. She had made her London debut as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, acted with John Gielgud, and been directed by Peter Brook.

Home Frances Hyland came in 1954, "full of youth, hope and exquisite talent," to the Stratford Festival, electrifying audiences as Isabella opposite James Mason in Measure for Measure. She would perform abroad again, but, as a critic later said, this "hard-working actor who could have been a star of the London and New York stage...opted instead for the guaranteed insecurity of a life in Canadian theatre." She built her career within the emerging network of companies across the country and over the years played all the leading theatres, recreating the most important Shakespearean and contemporary roles, starring in CBC television and radio dramas and films, and generously sharing her talent and indomitable artistic values.

Appropriately, she regards her performance in the title role of George Ryga's seminal Canadian play, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, as her most meaningful achievement. An Officer of the Order of Canada, she has received the John Drainie Award for Distinguished Contribution to Broadcasting (1981) and a 1994 Toronto Arts Award for lifetime achievement.