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Gatherings & Events

Apr 2019



StoryFusion Cabaret! 2018 - 2019 Series

Storytelling Toronto presents
StoryFusion Cabaret! Season Five 2018 – 2019

Artistic Director: Heather Whaley
Co-Directors: Backseat Balladeers


April 27, 2019 | 8:00 PM | CSI Annex

Queers in Your Ears
There’s Something in the Air

An evening of Queer Stories, Gay Tunes & Drag!

The Queers in Your Ears Collective presents another rollicking evening of tale-telling that explores queer identity and what it means to be queer – you’ll hear stories about love, friendship and death, the hard truths that we have to swallow and the power of storytelling.

Featuring Rico Rodriguez, Jeffrey Canton & Faith Nolan

Eventbrite - Queers in Your Ears: There's Something in the Air

For Door Reservations: hewhaley.storysong@gmail.com
Cheques: “Storytelling Toronto”
173 – 601 Christie Street | Toronto ON
M6G 4C7


January 26, 2019 | 8:00 PM | CSI Annex

The King Got Up One Monday Morning

Ethnomusicologist and multi-instrumentalist, Judith Cohen performs sung stories and tales from Sephardic and pan-European traditions.


November 3, 2018

Up Yer Celt! A Second Craic

Newfoundland storyteller and balladeer Ellen Power, and guest musicians, Emily Yarascavitch and Charlie McKittrick, lead our second house concert style ceilidh with story and song.

CSI Annex – How do I get there?

CSI Annex is at 720 Bathurst Street in Toronto. Wheelchair Accessible.
If travelling by TTC, go to Bathurst Station. CSI Annex is a block and a half south on the west side.
Street parking and Green P Parking is available.

Artist Biographies

The Backseat Balladeers is a casual group that sings ballads and songs for the sheer joy of spreading lyrics and music for generations to come. It formed in 2007 as a result of Storytelling Toronto’s Ballad 101 and 201 courses led by the esteemed Lorne Brown, teller of old tales and singer of old songs. They performed their debut at Nuit Blanche with Storytelling Toronto in 2009 at Artscape Wychwood Barns and at the 2011 Toronto Festival at Harbourfront Centre.

Membership has changed over the years, however original members, Meryl Arbing, Pat Bisset, Karen Blair, Donna Dudinsky, Kim Michele and Heather Whaley are some of the voices taking the stage to share stories and ballads and songs. Whether tragic, historical, romantic or comic, all invoke powerful emotions and have significance in our lives. As with many ballads and folk songs, audience participation is encouraged!

Judith Cohen is a singer and storyteller, an ethnomusicologist, a multi-instrumentalist and an inveterate traveller. A specialist in Sephardic songs, she has collected and studied these and many others, over years of travelling in Spain, Portugal, the Balkans, Morocco, Greece, Turkey, Israel and right here in Toronto and Montreal. Judith follows her ballads and their stories around, with versions of the same story sung and told in French Canada, Sephardic Morocco and Bosnia, Spanish and Portuguese villages. She blends and mixes ballads, stories, languages, and anecdotes in unexpected ways, with a number of traditional instruments, and spontaneous communication drawing in the audience as if they were in her living room.

Charlie McKittrick is a full-time musician living in Toronto, ON. He gigs regularly, whether it be drumming for bands at festivals, theatres clubs and weddings, or performing solo acoustic guitar and singing in casinos, pubs, resorts and microbreweries in and around the Greater Toronto Area. In 2009 Charlie earned his Bachelor of Music from the University of Windsor where he studied classical music as a percussion major under the direction of Dr. Bryan Malito and Dr. Nicholas Papador. Mr. McKittrick tours North America drumming for The Tartan Terrors (www.tartanterrors.com). In April 2018 Charlie released his debut solo EP called Two Hearts. Included on that release are four original songs. Many more of his songs are ready to be recorded will be released within the coming year.

Ellen Power was born in the isolated outport community of South East Bight, on the south coast of Newfoundland. Although raised in St. John’s, Ellen remains connected to the ballad-singing and storytelling traditions of her family—fishermen and traditional singers from Placentia Bay. She has performed at festivals across Newfoundland, including the March Hare Literary Festival and the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival. Singing ballads passed down through generations of Newfoundlanders before her, Ellen uses her voice to keep the old songs alive

Emily Yarascavitch received several titles such as: Junior Canadian Champion, a Grand Masters Junior Showcase Performer, two time Canadian Open Duet Champion and a Canadian Grand Masters Finalist.  She is trained in various fiddle styles as well as classical violin through the Royal Conservatory of Music and is a graduate of the University of Waterloo Honours Sciences with Minors in Biology and Music. She currently tours North America professionally with The Tartan Terrors; North America’s Premiere Celtic Event and plays with other solo artists. Emily released her debut CD My Passion in 2009 and released an EP with her trio Branches of Silver in 2015.

Emily is no stranger to StoryFusion Cabaret! She accompanied revered storyteller, Carol McGirr, with fiddle tunes for the telling of Blind MacNair at the Butler’s Pantry in 2014, our very first show. This time Emily will be step dancing as well!

Open Call for Storyfire

STORYFIRE at 2019 Toronto Storytelling Festival ~ MARCH 8 – 17

The 2019 Toronto Storytelling Festival continues with Storyfire from March 8 – 17 as the bridge between Storytelling at the Gladstone and the latter part of the Festival, a Fringe-style citywide celebration of storytelling with self-produced shows in venues throughout the city. These venues may include libraries, cafes, theatres, bars, community centres, storywalks, etc.

Storyfire is not curated and the Festival does not pay Storyfire artists.

NB: March 8 is International Women’s Day, March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, and March Break is from March 10 – 15, all of which provide lots of programming opportunities. We may ask you to make an adjustment in your event date to ensure the best possible attendance for Storyfire events.

All performances presented during the Festival and as part of Storyfire must respect the City of Toronto’s Anti-Racism, Access and Equity policy.

To have your performance(s) included in the 2019 Toronto Storytelling Festival, fill out the submission form below.

Storyfire Information & Submission Form (PDF)

Storyfire Information & Submission Form (WORD)

Email submissions to: admin@storytellingtoronto.org

Or mail to:
Storytelling Toronto | 173 – 601 Christie Street | Toronto ON | M6G 4C7

Submissions for Storyfire for inclusion in print materials due by November 1, 11:59pm.
Submissions for Storyfire for online promotion only due by January 2, 11:59pm.

2019 Toronto Storytelling Festival

March 2 – 24 2019

Our festival theme this year is
Stories told eye to eye, mind to mind, heart to heart” (Traveller proverb).
Tradition bearers bring wisdom from the ancestors to illuminate our future,
weaving new understandings from the web of old stories.

  • March 18-24 | Festival Week | Featuring international, national, and local tellers
  • March 3 | Storytelling at the Gladstone | Adult storytelling performances all day showcasing our celebrated local tellers 10am-6pm
  • March 2-17 | Storyfire | Fringe-style events highlighting creative diversity in self-produced shows, workshops, and gatherings in venues across the city
  • March 20-22 | Storytellers’ Camp | Each day offers an in-depth exploration of traditional and contemporary expressions of storytelling for tellers experienced and inexperienced 9am-3:30pm
The Toronto Storytelling Festival was founded in 1979.  It is one of North America’s biggest urban storytelling celebrations, bringing together the finest storytellers from around the world and across Canada.
For more information visit torontostorytellingfestival.ca

Festival Contacts:
Festival Artistic Director: Dawne McFarlane, festivaldirector@storytellingtoronto.org
Festival Administrator: Anna-Lynn Filice, festivaloperations@storytellingtoronto.org


Visit the Storytent!

Every Saturday morning
11:00 am to 1 pm
Family audiences welcome


Join us at the
The Stop Farmers Market
at Artscape Wychwood Barns

601 Christie Street, 2 blocks south of St. Clair Avenue West

~ Look for the blue tent outdoors in the summer months, or the red banner at the office of Storytelling Toronto in the winter ~

Annual General Meeting 2018


Open only to members of Storytelling Toronto

Date: Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Time: 6:30 PM for a 7:00 PM start
Venue: Peter MacKendrick Community Gallery, Artscape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie Street
*this is a wheelchair accessible space


The Storycare Project was a one-time program consisting of two workshops and a symposium held in December 2016. One of the Project outcomes was  Memories Into Stories: A Storytelling Resource Guide for Senior Adults, developed as an extension of The Storycare Project, and explores the connection between memory, storytelling, and the mental health and care of senior adults.


Read the 2016 program description below.

Storycare is a new approach to integrating the art and experience of storytelling into healthcare and community leadership settings.  It was developed through the storyteller-in-residence program at Baycrest Health Sciences. The Storycare Project includes two workshops and a symposium this December.

This project is supported by Storytelling Toronto, New Horizons for Seniors Program (Employment and Social Development Canada), the Arts and Health Program at Baycrest Health Sciences, The Neighbourhood Group and Kensington Gardens Long Term Care.


At a time when scientific breakthroughs and new technologies are a daily occurrence, it’s quite amazing that ‘story is being re-discovered as a unique and powerful way to connect with others;

  • Why stories are so powerful
  • The importance of engaging in listening and gathering seniors’ stories
  • The role stories can play in helping heal ‘broken narrative’ resulting from physical, social, mental and/or emotional limitations
  • Techniques, tips and templates on how to help ourselves and seniors shape and share stories

Date: Friday, December 2, 2016 (9:30am – 11:30am)
Venue: Kensington Gardens Long Term Care, 25 Brunswick Ave, South Building (just north of College Street)
Fee: $10 + HST (not including service fee)
Workshop Leader: Norma Cameron, CFRE (British Columbia), Storytelling and Narrative Consultant, North Saanich, British Columbia


They say a picture is worth 1000 words, but what if it takes some coaching to remember the story behind that picture? Learn how to use photographs as a tool to encourage stories told by seniors and ourselves;

  • Listening and cueing techniques for stories
  • Use of photographs helping seniors/oneself remember personal stories
  • Use of questions to draw out story details, senses, emotions
  • Ethics for listeners dealing with triggers and traumas
  • Hands on activities and hearing seniors present their own examples of stories using photographs.

Date: Thursday, December 8, 2016 (1:30pm – 3:30pm)
Venue: Central Neighbourhood House, 349 Ontario Street (just south off Gerrard Street E between Sherbourne and Parliament)
Fee: $10 + HST (not including service fee)
Workshop Leader: Rani Sanderson, Program Coordinator of StoryCentre Canada



Storytelling Toronto and Baycrest Health Sciences

invite you to a
Symposium on the Use and Value
of Storytelling for and by Seniors

Friday, December 9, 2016
9 am – 5 pm
Registry Fee:  $30 + HST (not including service fee)

“My stories are my wealth.” Angela Sidney, Tagish elder, Yukon Territory


This full-day symposium will be an opportunity to exchange ideas, discover best practices, hear and tell personal and traditional stories, and participate in intimate workshops with international leaders in the field.  The symposium will be of value to storytellers, seniors interested in developing their storytelling skills, allied health professionals, palliative care counselors, community animators, family caregivers, and anyone interested in the power of stories to build intergenerational and intercultural bridges.

Storycare has come out of the work of the Arts and Health program and Baycrest’s Storyteller-in-Residence, which focuses on creating and enhancing the role of story throughout the healthcare environment. From one-on-one exchanges to story-circles throughout Baycrest, stories are welcomed, celebrated, and used as ways of affirming the lives of patients, residents, staff, and families.

Keynote speakers include Dr. Steve Sabat and Mary Louise Chown. Dr. Sabat is a professor emeritus at Georgetown University, specializing in communication through the “tangled veil” of Dementia. Mary Louise Chown is a Winnipeg-based storyteller who has pioneered the use of storytelling in Palliative Care. The day includes a mix of performances and workshops on topics like intergenerational storytelling, storytelling for community-building, First Nations perspectives, humour, the Baycrest approach to Storycare, best practises for storytellers working with seniors, and much more.

The day includes a mix of performances and workshops on topics like intergenerational storytelling, storytelling for community-building, First Nations perspectives, humour, the Baycrest approach to Storycare, best practices for storytellers working with seniors, and much more.  Presenters include Celia Barker Lottridge, Itah Sadu, Louise Profeit-Leblanc, Marylyn Peringer, Lynda Howes, Jim Rennie, Lorne Brown, Calogero Chiarelli, Dan Yashinsky, Dinny Biggs, Village of Storytellers: Regent Park, and Melissa Tafler.

A copy of the newly-published Baycrest Wisdom Book, a collection of stories from Baycrest patients, residents, staff, and family members, is included in your registration.  Lunch and snacks will be provided.*

For more information contact Storytelling Toronto: T: 416-656-2445 / E: admin@storytellingtoronto.org

* Please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions
** Baycrest is at 3560 Bathurst Street, north of Lawrence Street West; if travelling by TTC take the #7 Bathurst bus to Baycrest Avenue. Parking available in Baycrest lot or on side streets.

(FINISHED) StoryFusion Cabaret! 2017 - 2018 Series

StoryFusion Cabaret! Bringing rich, enlightening and memorable stories to audiences.

Artistic Director: Heather Whaley
Co-Directors: The Backseat Balladeers

 2018 – 2019 Programme forthcoming!

2017 – 2018 StoryFusion Cabaret! series

Celebrating Canada 150 from Four Corners of the World

October 7, 2017

Voices of Beauty and Energy from North and West Lands & Skies!

Danny Beaton & Sarah Granskou

Native Teachings of Mother Earth
Environmentalist/Native Flute Player/Mohawk Elder Danny Beaton will share songs and Native teachings with those who are concerned with Mother Earth. Danny has travelled with the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth for over 25 years in Sacred Ceremonies and wants to share the wisdom and culture of his teachers. Danny is a feature writer and photographer for First Nations Drum and News from Indian Country.

Visit www.dannybeaton.ca for more info.

Northern Lights . . . from Norway to Canada
With intricate poetry, music, and puppetry, Sarah Granskou tells and sings of her Norwegian tradition and Canadian experience. From tales of the mythical huldrefolk and spirits of the water, forests, and mountains, to stories of those who dwell in our own streets and parks, her performance is both humourous and moving. As a contemporary scald, Sarah has performed for hundreds of festival and community audiences internationally and was the 2016 Artist in Residence for the City of Kitchener.

Visit www.sarahgranskou.com for more information.

January 27, 2018

Journeys to Canada from South and East Family Trees

Bernice Hune & Njacko Backo
Hosted by Donna Dudinsky

Telling Tales in Gold Mountain
Born in Toronto, Bernice Hune retells folklore from China and creates new stories from Canada’s recent past.  She recalls elders speaking in Cantonese about the Head Tax, the Chinese Exclusion Act and their determination for social justice. Bernice shares this legacy of stories in performance. Fresh from university, she performed as an actor, and then co-hosted a CBC radio program. Her work in education as a visual artist and an arts educator is widely recognized, and it informs her storytelling.

The World Beyond My Village
Starting from a very young age, Njacko Backo has been curious about the world. He was born into a musical family in a rural village in Cameroon, well isolated from the rest of the world. Despite grave warnings from his family that he would be eaten by cannibals, he was inspired to leave home at the age of 17 to explore, play music, and find his way to Europe. 15 years later, he arrived in Canada with a young family and has built a career as an award-winning professional musician and cultural ambassador for school-aged children in the GTA and beyond. www.njackobacko.com

Contact Karen Blair for door reservations at: kblairicus@gmail.com


Eventbrite - Journeys to Canada from South and East Family Trees

All tickets are $17 in advance or $22 at the door, HST included.
Purchase online above or pay by cheque to “Storytelling Toronto” at
173 – 601 Christie Street, Toronto ON M6G 4C7

All concerts 8:00 PM at CSI Annex, 720 Bathurst Street, Toronto |  Wheelchair Accessible

Street parking is available for $2.25/hour until 9 PM, and then street parking is free. The nearest Green P is on Lippincott and $1.50/½ hour. Click for map.

Annex Phone: (416) 979-3939


Past StoryFusion Cabaret! Events

January 21 2017
* featuring *

Lorne Brown and Eve Goldberg
Grab your coat and get your toque
Leave your worries all behind you
Time to meet and greet
Hear warm stories and dance your feet!
* to the tune of “Sunny Side of the Street”

Lorne Brown can often be found in some chimney corner, picking his 5-stirng banjo and singing an old ballad. When he can be pried from his corner, you might find him performing with Soldiers of Song, the tribute to Canada’s famous First World War troup, ‘The Dumbells.’

Eve Goldberg‘s watercolour voice and solid guitar style have become favourites at festivals, folk clubs, and concert series across Canada and the US. Her performances are intimate and relaxed, moving effortlessly from classics to originals. With an equal passion for the craft of songwriting and the art of interpretation, Eve blends new and old influences into a seamless whole.

Tickets $17 in advance / $22 at the door
CSI Annex, 720 Bathurst Street
8:00 pm

~~~      ~~~      ~~~      ~~~      ~~~

October 29 2016
* featuring *

Deborah Dunleavy: “Story of Isobel Gunn” &
Goldie Spencer: “Women of the Yukon”

Isobel Gunn is written and performed by Deborah Dunleavy with orchestrated digital music composed by Howard Alexander. A young Orkney lass brazenly disguised herself as a boy to hire on with the Hudson Bay Company. Their destination – the vast area of wilderness known as Rupert’s Land!
This work was made possible by a grant from The Canada Council for the Arts.
Deborah Dunleavy is a librettist, lyricist, author, and playwright based in Brockville, Ontario.

Women of the Yukon, Klondike is written and performed by Goldie Spencer, and depicts famous women in the Gold Rush. Goldie’s son, Alex, created some of the music that will accompany the performance and provides technical assistance.
Goldie Spencer’s favourite tales are those that give a positive environmental message. Goldie has performed at festivals in Toronto, Scarborough, Brockville and Sydney, Australia.

Amazing Women From Canada’s History features storytelling performances in character, and coincides with Women’s History Month in October and with the celebration of Persons Day on October 18.

Tickets $17 in advance / $22 at the door
CSI Annex, 720 Bathurst Street
8:00 pm

(FINISHED) Village of Storytellers

The Village of Storytellers project is a series of group storytelling sessions facilitated by experienced tellers. It is a community-informed program to rekindle the enjoyment of storytelling and the legacy of an oral tradition with participants hearing stories and coached as storytellers themselves. Opportunities for emerging tellers to perform at community and festival events support the growth and leadership of participants in literacy and language learning, community engagement, cultural-competence and social inclusion.

“Being part of the VOS project is like learning the difference between a snack and a feast. A story you read is a snack, but a story you hear told aloud has different flavours, colours, and textures as if enjoying a variety of dishes during a long feast.” – Village of Storytellers project participant from Regent Park community, 2014

For more information about the Village of Storytellers project, contact Storytelling Toronto at admin@storytellingtoronto.org