John Laurie to Alice Ravenhill (Sept.11, 1941)


John Laurie to Alice Ravenhill (Sept.11, 1941)


Laurie, a high school teacher in Alberta, writes to Ravenhill requesting information on how to start up a society similar to the British Columbia Indian Arts and Crafts Welfare Society (BCIACWS). His interest in such a committee, he writes, is motivated by preserving the art and bettering the economic welfare of “the Stonies at Morely.” He heard of such initiatives through Anthony Walsh.


John Laurie


Royal BC Museum, BC Archives (F/1/R19)


Sept.11, 1941


Crescent Heights High School
Calgary, Alberta,
Sept.11, 1941

Miss Ravenhill
Windermere Hotel
Victoria, B.C.

Dear Miss Ravenhill-

This summer, at the Banff School of Fine Arts, I have had the interesting experience of meeting Mr. Anthony Walsh and of seeing him in two of his most fascinating dramatizations.

After we had had some conversation regarding his work at Inkameep, and after I had heard of the work of the Committee which you so ably direct, I became anxious to do something similar among the Plains Indians of Southern Alberta. As it so happens I have the good fortune to be on friendly terms with the Stonies at Morley, and also friendly with the missionary who is head of the residential school there, and with the Agent. I have also a very slight acquaintance with a clever young blood Indian from Cardston.

While my knowledge of the Indian and of his needs is very slight, I do know that the plight of the Stonies, economically, is disgraceful to a country which is fighting to help the lot of the oppressed nations of the world. They are slowly starving. This is not altogether due to the policy of the Department but to, what are from the white point of view, defects in the Indian himself. But my brothers of the Stoney tribe are aware of this and while we are struggling with Ottawa to get them more land that they may farm and raise stock I feel we might do something towards the preservation of their native culture and arts, towards their economic betterment [page break] by eventually organizing a properly supervised sale of their buckskin and bead work and other native work, and in the future, providing some kind of follow-up for the young people who leave school. As I am a teacher, this interests me very much.

Could I so far encroach upon your valuable time to ask for a letter and any information which might be of value to me in forming a Committee here in Calgary?

I have hopes that, properly started, such a Committee might eventually embrace the Blackfoot Confederacy and the Sarcees. I should prefer to begin with the Stonies, as they need restoration of their self-respect and pride more than do the Blackfeet. I expect to experience a good many rebuffs, perhaps even from the authorities at Morley; the more so am I anxious to begin right.

Therefore any and all information would be most valuable and I should be extremely grateful. I should like to know the best method of approach to the authorities, to the public, in short whatever information you may be able to give.

Please do not let Mr. Walsh give you an exaggerated idea of either my abilities or influence; I am the merest novice.

Yours truly,
John Laurie




John Laurie, “John Laurie to Alice Ravenhill (Sept.11, 1941),” The Story is More than Itself, accessed December 13, 2018,