Or­der of Canada re­cip­i­ent has cre­ated 50-plus like­nesses of Al­monte res­i­dents


Pup­pets have been a key part of Noreen Young’s life for more than 50 years. As a child, she says, she haunted her lo­cal li­brary in Ot­tawa and bor­rowed as many books as she could find about pup­pet build­ing.

“I also had a friend who owned an art store and he let me do shows in his shop win­dow,” she re­calls, adding, “I even bul­lied my brothers into putting on the shows with me.”

Her child­hood fas­ci­na­tion was to turn into a full-time ca­reer and star­dom in her field. As well as creat­ing the chil­dren’s tele­vi­sion show Un­der the Um­brella Tree, which ran on CBC tele­vi­sion from 1987 to 1993, and on the Dis­ney Chan­nel from 1993 to 1997, Young’s pup­pets and shows have been fea­tured reg- ularly on TVOn­tario. In ad­di­tion, she fre­quently of­fers work­shops on pup­pet build­ing and other pup­petry skills, and makes pre­sen­ta­tions in lo­cal schools. In large part be­cause of her pres­ence, Al­monte has be­come known for its pup­pet con­nec­tions since Young and her fam­ily moved to the town in 1983.

“At that time, I had a re­ally busy ca­reer as a pup­peteer and pup­pet builder for CBC and TVOn­tario and as an in­de­pen­dent pro­ducer,” says Young, who was made a Mem­ber of the Or­der of Canada in 1995 in recog­ni­tion of her artistry. “We had a large stu­dio in our coun­try prop­erty, where I was able to do a lot of build­ing. We even did some ac­tual record­ing there.

“Grad­u­ally, peo­ple got to know me as I got in­volved in the com­mu­nity do­ing pup­pet projects and em­ploy­ing lo­cal peo­ple to help,” she adds.

Even­tu­ally, her com­mit­ment to the com­mu­nity led to the an­nual Pup­pets Up! In­ter­na­tional Pup­pet Festival — now head­ing into its 12th year with Young as its artis­tic di­rec­tor. In ad­di­tion, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Mis­sis­sippi Mills (of which Al­monte is part) com­mis­sioned her to cre­ate a pup­pet mas­cot. “Miss Mills” has ap­peared in var­i­ous places around town for the last eight years. Her im­age even adorns lo­cal garbage cans.

Many lo­cal busi­nesses also fea­ture pup­pet like­nesses of their own­ers, and sev­eral lo­cal politi­cians and other res­i­dents have com­mis­sioned pup­pet car­i­ca­tures of them­selves.

“One of my pup­pet-build­ing skills has been that I can do like­nesses of real peo­ple,” says Young, whose work in­cludes pup­pets of for­mer gover­nor general Adri­enne Clark­son, news an­chor Peter Mans­bridge and hockey com­men­ta­tor Don Cherry. “They are more friendly car­i­ca­tures than real por­traits. Over the years, a num­ber of lo­cal res­i­dents have asked if I would do one for them, of­ten to dis­play in their busi­nesses or as gifts, of­ten re­tire­ment gifts. I have built more than 50 like­nesses of lo­cal res­i­dents and I take it as a great com­pli­ment that peo­ple want them.”

Each year dur­ing the Pup­pets Up festival, many lo­cal res­i­dents — with their pup­pets in hand — take part in the daily pa­rade. In Jan­uary, a joint fundraiser for sev­eral lo­cal fes­ti­vals dis­played many of the lo­cal pup­pets, voiced by the peo­ple that they re­sem­bled, in a stand­in­groom-only con­cert, scripted by Young’s younger brother, Stephen Braith­waite.

This year, the Pup­pets Up festival — set to run Aug. 5-7 — will in­clude out­reach ac­tiv­i­ties by mount­ing shows in out­ly­ing com­mu­ni­ties in the lead up to the festival. As well as pup­pet shows of var­i­ous types from across Canada and the U.S., the 2016 event will fea­ture a mar­i­onette troupe from In­dia.

Mean­while, Young also con­tin­ues to build her sig­na­ture pup­pet like­nesses. Cur­rently at work on a com­mis­sion from an Ot­tawa client, she says, “I don’t think an artist ever re­tires. You just keep do­ing what you do. It’s like breath­ing.”

For more in­for­ma­tion on the Pup­pets Up festival, visit www. pup­pet­


Noreen Young with the mul­ti­tude of pup­pets she has cre­ated for the Pup­pets Up! In­ter­na­tional Pup­pet Festival held each sum­mer in Al­monte.


Many Al­monte res­i­dents have com­mis­sioned Noreen Young to cre­ate pup­pet car­i­ca­tures of them­selves.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.