Published On Wed Sep 22 2010
By Martin Knelman
Jackie Burroughs, one of the most accomplished and beloved actors in Canadian stage and screen history, died at home in Toronto on Wednesday after a long fight with cancer. She was 71.
Burroughs — fondly known to insiders as Jackie B. — made many triumphant appearances on the stage, working in Toronto, Stratford and Niagara-on-the-Lake (where her family owned the Oban Inn). And she won awards for memorable movie roles in The Grey Fox and A Winter Tan.
But to millions of Canadians, she was best known as the eccentric and delightful Aunt Hetty King in the hugely popular and long-running TV series Road to Avonlea, co-starring with the young Sarah Polley. The show was a hit not only on CBC Television but also in the U.S. on the Disney Channel.
Well known as a bohemian adventurer, Burroughs had a special gift for playing eccentric characters. Born in Lancashire, England, she moved to Toronto at age 12 and was enrolled in the private girls’ school Branksome Hall.
After making her stage debut at U of T’s Hart House, she made an unforgettable screen appearance as a factory worker in Don Owen’s 1966 National Film Board classic Notes for a Film About Donna & Gail.
On stage at Stratford when Robin Phillips was artistic director, Burroughs starred opposite Hume Cronyn in The Merchant of Venice. At the Royal Alexandra Theatre, she co-starred with Peter O’Toole in Uncle Vanya and Present Laughter.
Among her many awards were the Earle Grey lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television (2001) and the Governor General’s Performing Arts award for lifetime achievement in 2005.
In recent years Burroughs divided her time between her Yorkville apartment and a winter home in Mexico.
She leaves her daughter, Zoe Yanovsky, from her long-ago marriage to the late rock star Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin’ Spoonful.
Thanks to Kevin for sending me this article.