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Section title: What's New

What's New

Alma Mary Duncan (1917-2004)


Born in Paris, Ontario in October 1917, Alma Mary Duncan attended high school in Hamilton and Montreal. During the early 1940s, she attended life drawing classes taught by Ernst Neumann and Goodridge Roberts, and undertook a project to record the Canadian war effort through drawings made in arms factories and shipyards. This work is in the collection of the Canadian War Museum and Library and Archives Canada.

Duncan served on the executive of the Federation of Canadian Artists (1942-1943), and was treasurer of the Writers', Artists' and Broadcasters' War Council. She was invited to join the Graphic Division of the National Film Board in November 1943, working first with the Information Display department and then with the Animation department.

Following the Second World War, Duncan produced Folksong Fantasy as an independent producer under contract for the National Film Board. In 1951, Duncan and Audrey McLaren established their own film production company, Dunclaren Productions. After Dunclaren ceased its activities in 1960, Duncan returned to painting and graphic art, regularly exhibiting in group shows. She had begun working as a commercial artist in Montreal in the 1930s, and throughout her career she had commissions for graphic work, including an advertisement for Captain Morgan Rum and the illustrations for the textbook Le Français vivant. In 1949, she gave a course on the Visual Presentation of Ideas for Macdonald College in Montreal and she taught painting and drawing at the Ottawa School of Art from 1962-1966, as well as at various art clubs in the Ottawa area.

In 1970, Duncan was commissioned by the Canada Post Office to design a series of stamps, The Maple in Four Seasons, followed by a series of floral aerogrammes. Much of Duncan's work reflects her interest in nature, and she and McLaren owned property in the Ottawa Valley where Duncan often sketched. She was also interested in industrial subjects; in 1987, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, mounted a travelling retrospective of her industrial drawings. A third enduring interest was the Canadian north, the setting for Dunlaren's award-winning film, Kumak the Sleepy Hunter, in 1953. In 1975, Duncan spent two months on a sketching trip to Ellesmere and Baffin Islands. She was a founding director of the Atai Arctic Creative Development Foundation.

Link to the descriptive record of the Alma Duncan and Audrey Maclaren Fonds in ArchiviaNet

For historical news releases please visit:

List item Library and Archives Canada - What's New Archives (2005)
List item Library and Archives Canada - What's New Archives (2004)
List item National Archives of Canada - News & Events Archive (1999-2003)
List item News Releases of the National Library of Canada (1996-2003)