de Grandmaison, Sonia

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de Grandmaison, Sonia

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28 July 1912 - 2000


Sonia (Sophia) Orest Dournovo was born to Colonel Orest Dournovo and Alexandra Berdiaeff on July 28, 1912 in Borisogliev, Russia. Sonia was the ninth of ten children, the others being Alexei (born 1898), Xenia (1899), Barbara (1901), Maria (1903), Anya (1904), Peter (1906), Natasha (1908), Elya (1910), and Alexandra (1915). The Dournovo family were related to Leo Tolstoy and Sergei Rachmaninoff and were among the Russian aristocracy. The Dournovo family (with the exception of eldest son Alexei) fled their home in Kostroma (approximately 450 kilometers northeast of Moscow) at the onset of the Bolshevik Revolution and made their way across Siberia during the Russian Civil War. Alexei never re-united with the family and his whereabouts remained unknown.</p>;<p>In 1921, the Dournovo family crossed into Manchuria and temporarily settled in Harbin. While there, Orest Dournovo began organizing Russian émigrés in order to immigrate to Canada. Dournovo particularly recruited Old Believer (a sect of the Russian Orthodox Church) families, as they had great agricultural experience. With the sponsorship of the Canada Pacific Railroad, Dournovo gained approval from the Canadian government to bring thirty families to Alberta. In 1924, the Dournovo family was among the first of this group to leave for Canada via Japan, where they helped create the community of Homeglen, Alberta near the town of Wetaskiwin. Between 1924 and 1928, Dournovo helped over 70 families of Russian émigrés and Old Believers settle in Homeglen.</p>;<p>Sonia married the artist Nicholas de Grandmaison on September 19, 1930 in Calgary, where Sonia and Nicholas relocated. The couple had five children: Rick (Orestes Nicholas) de Grandmaison was born in 1932, Tamara was born in 1936, Nick (Nicolas) was born in 1938, Sonia Clair was born in 1946, and Lou Sandra (Lubov Alexandra) was born in 1951. Rick, Nick and Tamara all went on to become successful artists and all of the children were involved in the arts in some manner.</p>;<p>Sonia pursued a highly successful career as an artist, specializing in sculpture. She created her own works and was commissioned by private benefactors and public entities to create specific works. Among her commissioned works are a statue of John A. MacDonald for the City of Regina, a bust of John F. Kennedy for the Kennedy Library, and a statue of Bishop Olivier Mathieu for the Archdiocese of Regina.</p>;<p>From 1930 to 1979, the de Grandmaison family would live in Calgary and Banff for alternating periods of time. While living in Banff, Sonia and Nicholas used the Rocky Mountain town as inspiration for their work. The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies would eventually collect and display their works. From 1979 to 1990, the de Grandmaisons lived in Regina, Saskatchewan before retiring to Vancouver, British Columbia. Sonia died there in 2000.


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Provincial Archives of Alberta

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