Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional links

Literary Archives

Previous | Table of Contents | Next

List of Fonds and Collections

HOUSTON, JAMES, 1921-
LMS-0148

James Houston fonds. - 1965-1988. - 20 m of graphic material and textual record.

Biographical Sketch

Author, illustrator, sculptor and filmmaker, James Houston was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1921. He received his artistic training at the Ontario College of Art (1938-1940), École Grande Chaumière in Paris (1947-1948) and in Japan (1958-1959) where he studied printmaking with Unichi Hiratsuka. He first travelled to Ungava in the Arctic in 1948 and settled on Baffin Island in 1951, where he lived among the Inuit for 12 years. Houston became the region's first civil administrator in 1953, a position he held for nine years. His appreciation of Inuit creativity led him to initiate the idea of marketing their sculpture and he established the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative. He also introduced the Inuit to printmaking, a technique he learned in Japan. As a result, he is considered the prime force in the development of Inuit art and printmaking. In 1962, Houston moved to New York and became Associate Director of Design with Steuben Glass. A chance meeting with Margaret K. McElderry (editor of children's books for Harcourt) led to the writing and illustrating of his first book Tikta'liktak: An Eskimo Legend (1965).

Best known as a writer of juvenile fiction, he is, more than any other Canadian writer, responsible for bringing the life of Canada's First Peoples to the rest of the country through his fiction. He has won the Book of the Year Award of the Canadian Association of Children's Librarians three times for Tikta'Liktat (1966), The White Archer (1968), and River Runners (1980). His Whiteout received the Max and Greta Ebel Memorial Award for Children's Writing in 1989. Apart from writing and illustrating more than 20 children's books, novels, and other works dealing with the Arctic, Inuit or Native life and/or art, he has created documentaries and screenplays for feature films, resulting in numerous international film awards. Houston was made an officer of the Order of Canada for his work as an administrator, artist and writer.

Scope and Content

The James Houston fonds is composed of the manuscripts, paintings, and illustrations of Houston's novels: Tikta'liktak, Eagle Mask, The White Archer, Akavak, The White Dawn, Wolf Run, Songs of the Dream People, Ghost Paddle, Kiviok's Magic Journey, Ghost Fox, Frozen Fire, River Runners, Long Claws, Black Diamonds, Eagle Song, Ice Swords, Falcon Bow, and Spirit Wrestler. The fonds also contains correspondence, articles, lectures, book reviews, profiles and manuscript material or illustrations for works by other authors.

Immediate Source of Acquisition: acquired from James Houston in 1988. [1988-08]

Language: material in the fonds is in English.

Restrictions: none.

Finding Aid: finding aid available.

Previous | Table of Contents | Next