N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: May 29, 1972
Discipline / contribution: drama - performance
Citation / biographical information:
Born in Shaunavon, raised in Ogema, educated in Regina and at our own university here in Saskatoon, Frances Hyland is a true daughter of Saskatchewan.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Her undoubted talent brought her immediate and special admission to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, whose coveted Silver medal she was awarded, and from where she went at once upon graduation to a starring role in London’s famous Aidwych Theatre. During the following four years of intensive work, she toured the whole of Great Britain, and rose to the top of her chosen profession on London’s stages. She performed with, and counted among her friends, some of England’s leading theatre artists, such, for one example, as Sir John Gielgud, to whose Leontes she played Perdita in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.
With the best of the United Kingdom’s talent to choose from, Sir Tyrone Guthrie selected Frances Hyland as the imported British star to appear at Canada’s Stratford Festival, where she played Isabella in Measure For Measure. Instead of returning to London after her triumph in this role, she chose to stay and work where her heart had always belonged -- in Canada.
For eight seasons, the depth and breadth of her talent were shown at our own Stratford in portrayals ranging all the way from the gentle Ophelia, through beautiful Cleopatra, to the robustious Doll Tearsheet. For three seasons, her skill helped to establish Canada’s annual Shaw Festival. In between times she starred in Toronto, Chicago, on Broadway and, by special arrangement at England’s Chichester Festival. She has performed on the stages of every Canadian province, and in about 40 major television and 100 radio productions on Canada’s national networks.
As early as 1964 she was proclaimed as Canada’s leading actress. It was in that year she gave her epic performance in the Saskatchewan-based motion picture, The Drylanders.
But then Frances Hyland made a choice -- between her own personal ambition and her ambition for the success of Canadian theatre. She turned away from the path of international fame and fortune she had already achieved, and went wherever she was needed -- from Quebec to British Columbia and back again -- to help companies, small and large, in their struggles to become truly professional.
Last year she was awarded the Service Medal of Canada. Among her many achievements, it is only natural that she is proudest of her title role in the Ecstasy of Rita Joe, an entirely Canadian production in which, with Chief Dan George, she celebrated the opening of Canada’s National Centre of the Arts at Ottawa.
Frances Hyland is an outstanding artist, a selfless little lady, and a great Canadian.
Eminent Chancellor, I present to you Frances Hyland and ask that you will confer on her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: Emrys Jones, professor of Drama
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