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A Tribute to Peg Hasted, June 5, 1961 - October 17, 2015


Storyteller, Peg Hasted, loved folktales and fairy tales but she searched her cultural roots to understand her storytelling background. Her family came from a number of European countries including Ireland, Scotland and England, but she was many generations Canadian; born and raised on the west coast of Vancouver Island and it was to that heritage that she was most drawn. Peg’s mother travelled by boat from Kyuquot, a tiny village on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, to the hospital in Tofino to await Peg’s birth. Peg, true to a habit of a lifetime, was late and fisherman up and down the coast radioed back and forth, ‘Has the baby arrived yet?’ When Peg finally made an appearance and the birth was announced, she was called the ‘West Coast Baby’!

When she was growing up, her father earned his living from the sea. He trolled the Pacific water outside their sheltered bay of Kyuquot, swinging salmon aboard his boat with a practiced hand and she learned that the men and women who live and work on the ocean have stories to tell. The commercial industry that sustained the fishing village where Peg grew up has waned and with the passing of an era there is a danger that stories will be lost. In 2005 the Storytellers School of Toronto awarded Peg the Alice Kane Award, which made it possible to travel, research and record the memories of those who fished for a living. That research led to stories of the Huntress II, the Giant Squid (the west coast version) and the sinking of the Valencia and more – stories that were performed across Canada and at the National Storytelling Network conference in Bellingham, Washington.

When I first met Peg she was an Early Childhood educator, influencing many young children and families who were touched by her teaching and storytelling. She became a serious student starting with a Humanities Diploma from UVic and then a Master’s from Royal Roads University. She had just started teaching in the Early Childhood Education Department of Camosun College when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

The last time I saw her perform in public was at the Esquimalt Storytelling Festival 2014. She was in remission, her hair was starting to grow back and it suited her very well. She told the audience about growing up in Kyuquot and learning to row her first dingy at the age of 8.  She then told Telesik, a Ukrainian folktale and, part way through, half of the young audience stood up spontaneously, ran forward and surrounded her and holding on to whatever they could: her waist, her leg, her ankle. She finished the story wearing a skirt of young storylisteners. Children are an exacting audience and they recognized a great storyteller and a good person.

Peg died October 17, 2015 and we are so sad.

Written by Jennifer Ferris

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