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Esther Nelson

Esther Irene Nelson was born June 13, 1922, the youngest of six children. Her parents, Elof (from Sweden), and Thea (from Norway), were homesteaders in Usona, Alberta, located south of Edmonton between Wetaskiwin and Ponoka. The valedictorian at her Ponoka High School graduation in 1942, Nelson went on to qualify for the teacher trainee program and was teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in Slave Lake, Alberta, by October of the same year. An interest in theatre that began in Usona at Anthony Hill School would lead to her enrollment in the Banff School of Fine Arts' summer courses through 1943-1945, and on to a scholarship with the Seattle Repertory Playhouse in Seattle, Washington, followed by an engagement with Sydney Risk's Everyman Theatre in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 1949, Esther Nelson returned to Alberta to accept the position of Drama Specialist with the University of Alberta's Department of Extension in Edmonton, and would also work within the Edmonton Department of Recreation to help establish children's theatre programming. She relocated to Calgary, Alberta, in the 1960's, where she continued working, and where she completed her Master of Arts in English at the University of Calgary. Among other occupations, Nelson served as a sessional instructor at the University of Calgary during intermittent periods up until her retirement in the 1980's. In recognition for her achievements in promoting community and semi-professional theatre in Alberta, Esther Nelson received the Dominion Drama Festival's Canadian Drama Award in 1955, and she is included among the entries in the Canadian Encyclopedia of Theatre.







Student & Academic Services for The Alberta Women's Memory Project - Last Updated October 15, 2012