Crowdfunding Campaign Proves Canadians Will Invest In Their Cultural History

The Canadian Nightingale Will Be Published Through FriesenPress For Canada150

July 23, 2017—A new Canadian historical biography will be released this fall, thanks to the commitment of 90 Canadians to invest over $5,000 in the publication. More than 100 copies of the book have been pre-sold, with new orders coming in daily.

Ambition. Fame. Betrayal. The Canadian Nightingale: Bertha Crawford and the Dream of the Prima Donna, reveals the untold story of a gifted young woman from small-town Ontario, who rose to unprecedented success on the opera stages of Russia and Poland, only to be forgotten for eighty years. Tracking a roller coaster ride to celebrity that was ultimately derailed by broken trust, this new Canadian biography revives a singular voice, and reminds us how important it is to recognize Canadian talent and artistic contribution.

Rejected by traditional publishers as ‘too difficult to market’, The Canadian Nightingale was the subject of a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that leveraged social media to test the real interest of Canadian readers in the history of Canadian music and culture.

“It is very gratifying to find that there are plenty of Canadians who are interested enough to invest their money in the revival of this lost piece of Canadian history,” says author Jane Cooper. “The book will be out before the end of Canada150, an appropriate year to put our cultural heritage—new and old—in the lime light.”

Inspired by a passing reference in a 1924 family letter, six years of research and writing have resulted in a full cradle-to-grave biography which reconstructs the overlooked life of possibly the most successful Canadian opera star in Europe in the first quarter of the 20th century.

From a youthful start as the soprano soloist at Toronto’s Metropolitan Methodist Church (now the United Church) on Queen Street, Bertha Crawford (1886-1937) built a name for herself across Canada, in the first decade of the last century. But she had to leave Canada to get the European training and experience she needed to be considered a really serious performer at home.

Ironically, Crawford became such an established star in Poland that she lost touch with her Canadian audience, and was forgotten in the land of her birth. And yet, while she was a well-loved performer across Poland, the ‘Canadian Nightingale’ was never considered Polish in her adopted home, and so has been forgotten there too.

Jane Cooper is a researcher and writer from the Ottawa area. Undertaking policy research by day, by night she escapes into the history of the early 20th century. Working on and off in the former Soviet Union over the past fifteen years, she has developed a particular interest in the experiences of Western women in Eastern Europe in the first quarter of the previous century.

To see the Kickstarter campaign which was successful in building a coalition to fund publication of The Canadian Nightingale, click here: