Illustrations from the Book Canada’s first international opera star, Emma Albani, inspired young singers like Bertha Crawford to think that they too could have a professional career. Scottish immigrant, John Crawford, and his Canadian wife, Maud, had optimistic dreams about their daughters’ future. It would be their younger daughter Bertha, rather the elder, Lucia, who would take their ambitions to the greatest heights. Many of the members of the Elmvale Silver Band were Bertha’s relatives. John Crawford is holding the clarinet. By 1902, 19-year-old Lucia Crawford had given up singing duets in public and ceded the stage to her younger sister Bertha’s solo career. Bertha sang many times in Massey Hall. The premier concert hall in Toronto at the turn of the century was frequently rented by charitable organizations at a discounted price. Outside of church, Bertha built up her reputation from the stage of Massey Hall, with its superb acoustics and intimate atmosphere. Stained glass windows, closed off today, let daylight into the hall in Bertha’s time. Is this the travelling suit Bertha wore when she set out on her first international tour in January 1907? ‘Elocutionist’ Marietta Ladell introduced Bertha to the life of the touring musician, when she took her along as a supporting act on a two-month tour of the southern United States in 1907. Bertha was very pleased with herself when she won the top soloist position with Toronto’s Metropolitan Methodist Church on Queen Street in 1907. When English organist Herbert Wheeldon chose Bertha to the lead soprano in his new choir at the Metropolitan Methodist Church in 1907, her feet were set on a path that lead to London. The Metropolitan Methodist Church, on Queen Street had one of the wealthiest congregations in Toronto, and could afford to pay top dollar to soloists like Bertha. An indomitable touring baritone, Hugh Ruthven MacDonald, and his accompanist wife, took Bertha across Canada 1909 and 1910, introducing her to audiences in small communities all over Western Canada. Bertha was the poster girl for the H. Ruthven MacDonald Concert Party when they toured across Canada in 1909 and 1910. As a girl with a taste for glamour, Bertha would enjoy her time in the British Empire’s capital, London. Touring across Canada in 1909 obviously appealed to Bertha’s sense of adventure and ambition. Bertha’s mother, sister Lucia, and father on the porch of the Crawford’s new home on Parkside Drive. They thought Bertha would join them soon, listing her name in the Toronto Directory at this address. Bertha Crawford, London, England, c. 1912 Czech tenor, Otto Morando, was one of Bertha’s singing teachers in London. Later he would exploit his connection with Bertha to further his career in Toronto. Emilia Corsi, a retired Italian soprano, gave Bertha’s opera training the requisite Italian touch. A young Zofia Slubicka (nee Kosinska), Baroness, around the time she bore her son. His education in England would lead to her meeting Bertha. The Warsaw Great Theatre was the most important opera house in the Polish province of the Russian Empire. Bertha debuted in Warsaw in 1913 in Rigoletto, opposite the Italian baritone Riccardo Stracciari. Bertha’s Travels in Russia, 1913-1918. Baron Konstantin Stackelberg was the Director of the Tsar’s Court Orchestra, and a very useful contact for a Canadian musician newly arrived in Petrograd. Bertha Crawford, Petrograd (St. Petersburg), Russia, 1915. Bertha debuted in Petrograd in 1915 on the same stage, in the same week, in front of the same audiences as Russia’s foremost opera star, Feodor Shalyapin. Here he is in costume as the mad miller in the opera Ruslaka. In the spring of 1915, Bertha was featured in Petrograd charity concerts alongside top Russian opera stars, such as I.V. Tartakov, here in dressed as Figaro for The Barber of Seville. Enterprising entrepreneurs produced postcards of the Russian retreat from Warsaw in July 1915, for celebrating Poles and Germans, but Bertha was already safely back in Petrograd. Miss Bertha Crawford, Petrograd (St. Petersburg), Russia, 1915. Bertha’s Russian vocal coach, A.V. Taskin, managed a concert party which Bertha joined to tour the Caucasus in the spring of 1916. Bertha made a useful contribution to the Russian tragedian Robert Adelheim’s concert theme. Through her singing, Bertha personified the British, French and Italian allies who were supporting Russia in the First World War. Some places Bertha Crawford Performed in interwar Poland. As she re-established her career in newly independent post-war Poland, Bertha updated her image with platinum blond hair styled in the latest marcel wave. But her musical taste remained firmly classical. Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra conductor, Emil Mlynarksi, chose Bertha as a soloist for his patriotic concert, In Honour of the Allies, in January 1919, putting her at the centre of one of Poland’s most important stages in her first post-war appearance. Bertha made many repeat appearance as a soloist with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra during the 1920s. Adam Dolzicki, Polish director of the new Poznan Opera Company, hired Bertha in 1921 for 18 guest appearances in prima donna roles that she could leverage for her return to Canada. On her return to Poland in 1922, Bertha was again invited to be a guest soloist with the Poznan Opera. The eccentric American doctor, Violet Berger, was a good friend of Bertha’s. Bertha sang for the wounded soldiers in Berger’s Warsaw hospital during the Polish Soviet War in 1921. In her first concert in Canada for ten years, Bertha appeared alongside the young violist, Harry Adaskin, at Queen’s University in Kingston. Bertha Crawford, c. 1921 in costume as Gilda for the opera Rigoletto, taken by Herman Miskin, New York The marriage proposal from Zofia’s cousin, Count Karol de Hauke, presented Bertha with one of the most difficult decisions in her life. Bertha was in fine form at her last public performance in Varsity Arena at the University of Toronto, during the 1935 Promenade Symphony Concert series. Bertha Crawford, c. 1909, picture taken for the tour brochure for the 1909-1910 cross-Canada concert party tour.