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History of Puppetry
in Canada

Muriel Heddle

Born in the United States, Muriel Heddle developed an interest in puppetry while studying at the Ontario College of Art. Her primary interest was in choreographing marionettes to classical music. Form 1930 to 1933, she assisted Rosalynde Stearn in teaching the design and operation of marionettes, and later began to work with Violet and David Keogh, becoming their partner in 1936. The resulting Kay-Heddle Marionettes played with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Massey Hall in 1937, and performed in department stores, at the Toronto Art Gallery, and in a series of trade shows at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1938 and 1939. The patnership ended when Heddle formed her own company, The Royal Canadian Puppet Ballet (1939-1942). The company toured Canada and the United States until 1942, when the U.S entered Second World War, forcing the company to disband. Over the years, Heddle became known for the design of her puppets, which often featured solid black eyes, and is said to have designed more than 800 puppets during her career.

Adapted from Figuratively Speaking : Puppetry in Ontario by Ken McKay, copyright 1990. Courtesy of the Ontario Puppetry Association and Ken McKay.