Burkitt, Thyrza Young

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Burkitt, Thyrza Young

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Thyrza Young Burkitt (nee Holmes), was born in Hull, England in 1884. She emigrated to Canada with her family at a young age, settling in the Cardston area. Her father was a Magistrate there, but also owned a store which was patronized by many of the local Native population. Thyrza developed a keen interest in Native culture, and began to build a personal collection of artifacts from the neighbouring Blood, Peigan and Northern Montana Blackfoot tribes. In addition, she also developed a keen interest in Native handicrafts and arts. About 1926, Thyrza took up painting and later studied at Los Angeles and at Banff. Her subject matter was also a reflection of her interest in Native and historic themes. Her most famous work, entitled "An Indian Encampment", hung in the National Gallery in Ottawa. Although unclear, it is assumed that Thyrza first married George Young. Two sons were born of their marriage; Clisby and Waldo. It appears the Mrs. Young was later remarried to Charles Burkitt, who had a son from a previous marriage. His name was also Charles. When Thyrza's family had grown, it appears that she began writing, authoring many articles on historical themes, as well as plays and biographies. Thyrza also compiled a dictionary of Blackfoot terms. Thyrza was a charter member of the Lethbridge Writers Club, a member of the Women's Press Club, the Canadian Author's Association, as well as being an executive on the staff of a Toronto magazine (unnamed). Thyrza Burkitt passed away in 1954, and was well known in the communities of Lethbridge, Cardston and Medicine Hat.

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