Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
July 24, 2024
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March 27, 2024

A Life Celebrated

<p>Suzanne Pasternak</p>
Suzanne Pasternak

The well-lived life of beloved County documentarian, playwright, author, and song writer Suzanne Pasternak will be celebrated in Picton next week with a musical memorial at the Regent.

“Suzanne was a brilliant artist in her own right who also had a remarkable ability to pull people together for the various projects she envisioned,” said long time friend, collaborator, and musician, Tom Leighton.

Many of her friends will gather on stage to perform Suzanne’s original songs and some of her favourites. 

Artists include daughter and event organizer, Natasha Pasternak, along with her husband, Tyler Francavilla, Miss Emily, Mr. Leighton, Lenni Stewart, Trinity (Renie Thompson, Kim Inch & Jeanette Arsenault), Mark Despault, Janice Hammett, Sadie McFadden, Megan Hutton, and Hilary Fennell.

Other participants include Lori Farrington, Monica Alyea, Sarah Moran, Jean Wilson, and Sandra Leighton. 

The evening will also feature segments from Ms. Pasternak’s documentary videos.

Suzanne Pasternak.(Gazette File Photo)

Ms. Pasternak spent over 30 years collecting oral histories in the field, filming and photo-documenting her subjects with a focus on Eastern Ontario, including various islands in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. This extensive work culminated in documentaries, dramatic productions and spellbinding live performances that endeared her to the communities in which her creations were set.

She lived in Prince Edward County and in her later years, in Kingston, where she continued to devote her time writing music and documentaries. Her work led her to create historically based folk operas, musicals, plays, three books, two documentaries, a pair of albums and a lecture series.

Her best known folk opera, Minerva, is a dramatic and true cross-border story weaving an 1880’s tale about young Minerva McCrimmon, a 17-year-old ship’s cook. Minerva was a famous heroine in both Oswego, New York and Prince Edward County, in Canada. On a foggy April evening in 1880, she rescued 21 panic-stricken crew members off the shoals of Oswego.

Ms. Pasternak also wrote a book about another cross-border tale, The Story of the 1917 Halifax Explosion and the Boston Tree, which was donated to every branch of the Prince Edward County Library.

The Celebration of Life takes place Wednesday 3 April at 6 p.m. Admission is free but please contact the Regent Theatre to reserve your seat

Donations made to the GoFundMe campaign are deeply appreciated to help with the funeral costs. 

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