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This article first appeared in the "Valley Lives" column in the September 02, 2020 issue of the "The Low Down to Hull and Back News". Reprinted with permission. See list of Valley Lives articles or search Low Down Articles.
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Moiya Anne Wright
Love for art, community 'at the core of her being'
By Sage Nokomis Wright
Moiya Anne Wright (nee Wilkie) dreamt of becoming a ballerina. And then a paleontologist and finally a veterinarian. Little did she know that, when her dance classes were cut short as a young girl in Edinburgh after she and her parents left Scotland, she would leave behind a legacy of so much more.
As a ski instructor at Grey Rocks in the Laurentians in 1953, she was swept off her feet by a young and charming David Wright. They moved to Meech Lake and she poured love into her surroundings, creating a foundation of inspiration and community advocacy.
Moiya was a constant supporter of the preservation of natural beauty and history. In 1961 she saw an opportunity for friends to gather. The Tea Room at Moorside (Mackenzie King Estate) was abandoned at the time and without an association she didn't have much power against the National Capital Commission, so Moiya and her close friend, Judy Crawley, helped found the Gatineau Valley Historical Society. She was inspired to become a curator of women's voices after she travelled to the North and was exposed to the handmade art by women in the Arctic. Longing for a place where their works could be displayed to southerners who had less access to that world of art at the time, she opened a celebratory space of Indigenous art, The Snow Goose in 1963 and in 1990 was one of the seven founding members of Gallery Old Chelsea.
In addition to her regular donations supporting local arts institutions, she was a contributor to various newsletters, a member of The Women's Business Network of Ottawa and the creator of 'housewives ski day every Tuesday' at Camp Fortune. Eventually she fulfilled her childhood love of dance when she became involved in Quebec's first modern dance company, Le Groupe de la Place Royale. She even has her own Internet Movie Database page, displaying two credits for her work with the Crawley family's production company.
Throughout her life, it was evident that a love for art and for strengthening her community was at the core of her being. She wrote letters to developers when she felt nature's beauty was at risk, and she routinely painted and drew, always featuring her natural surroundings and calming, colourful landscape views as her subjects.
In 1947, at the age of 16 when she travelled from Scotland to Canada, she was allowed her legacy to begin in an era when legacies were cut short for many families like hers. And a legacy she has left - five children, six grandchildren and four great grandchildren, as well as countless friends and hundreds of paintings nestled in galleries and family homes across the country. Her legacy is in those paintings, but also in the sunset colours that wash across the sky over the Gatineau Hills, a living replica of what so often moved her to put colour to canvas. And that is where I shall look for her.
Moiya peacefully passed on August 12, 2020.
Sage Nokomis Wright is Moiya Anne Wright's granddaughter