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Call Number: Mss 204 (A.05-34)

Title: Victor S. Cowie fonds.

Dates: 1950-2002.

Extent: 1.5 m of textual records. -- 18 photographs.

Biographical sketch: Victor (Vic) Spiers Cowie was born on June 19, 1929 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Vic Cowie completed a B.A. (Hons.) in English Literature at the University of Manitoba. During this time he met his wife Geraldine (Gerry). They were married for 48 years and had three children: Laura, Paul, and John. He undertook post-graduate studies at the University of Toronto and graduated with an M.A. in 1966. In 1956, Cowie was hired by the Department of English at the University of Manitoba, where he taught until his retirement in 1995. He continued to lecture as a part-time instructor well after his retirement. Cowie specialized in the works of Shakespeare and Milton. In 1970, Cowie received the Olive Beatrice Stanton Award for excellence in teaching. He was also awarded the Certificate of Excellence in the Teaching of English by the Modern Language Association of America for the 1972-1973 academic year.

Aside from his academic achievements, Vic Cowie was actively involved in theatre and film, both at the local and national level. Cowie wrote, directed, and starred in And No Birds Sing (1969), the first feature film produced entirely by students and staff at the University of Manitoba. The film received the “Best Featurette”award at the 1969 Vancouver Film Festival and won a Canada Film Award in Toronto. In collaboration with Victor Davies, Cowie also wrote three hour-long children’s musical plays that were featured on the CTV national network: The Magic Trumpet (1975), Reginald the Robot (1976), and The Curse of Ponsonby Hall (1981). Vic Cowie was deeply involved in the University of Manitoba theatre program and directed many productions for the Black Hole Theatre. At the professional level, Cowie acted in several Manitoba Theatre Centre Mainstage productions including Volpone (1960), The Lesson (1960), Oh, Dad, Poor Dad (1961), The Dybbuk (1973/1974), Amadeus (1984), as well as his own adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV 1&2 entitled Falstaff (1989).
Vic Cowie starred in several Guy Maddin films including Archangel (1990), Careful (1992), Cowards Bend at the Knee (2003), and The Saddest Music in the World (2004). His made for television movie credits include The Challengers (1989), Lost in the Barrens (1990), Lost in the Barrens II: The Curse of the Viking Grave (1991), Heads (1993), The Diviners (1993), Trucks (1997), Escape From Mars (1999), We Were The Mulvaneys (2002), The Many Trials of Jane Doe (2002), and More Than Meets the Eye: The Joan Brock Story (2003). Other film credits include Black Ice (1992), Bordertown Café (1993), Red Team (1999), and The Law of Enclosures (2000). Vic Cowie died on March 8, 2004.

Custodial history: The fonds was donated to University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections by Gerry Cowie in 2005.

Scope and content: The fonds consists of records relating to the academic and artistic career of Professor Victor S. Cowie. The material includes personal and business related correspondence, research and lecture notes, and a variety of research-based newspaper clippings. Also included are handwritten and photocopied drafts of the musicals The Magic Trumpet, Reginald the Robot, and The Curse of Ponsonby Hall. In addition, the fonds also includes drafts and documents related to the film And No Birds Sing, as well as playbills, newspaper reviews and other documents related to theatre productions in which Cowie was involved. 18 photographs related to University of Manitoba theatre activities are also included in the fonds.

Source of supplied title: Title based on provenance of the fonds.

Restrictions: There are no restrictions on this material.

Accruals: No further accruals to this fonds are expected.

Finding aid: A printed finding aid is available in the Archives reading room and an on-line finding aid is available at the link below:

MSS 204 (A.05-34).