Members Showcase

Education Retirees Association of Ottawa

ERAO features the profiles of noteworthy members whose retirements have introduced fresh opportunities for renewed creativity and the furtherance of lifelong learning


    Members Showcase
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    Are you a retired educator who has a talent, interest or skill that you would like to share? Do you know someone whose talents could be showcased on this page?

    If you, or someone you know, has a special gift that would be of interest to retired educators, please email:
    Huguette Lavigne, Musician — "Piano Notes"
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    Posted February 17, 2023 — Following retirement after 23 years in the classroom, Huguette's musical inspirations truly blossomed when she began composing pieces at her living room grand piano. At first, she committed pieces to memory.

    "Not notating everything down keeps things fresh. You are open to new phrases and resolutions. This is risky, but oh so satisfying! There is something about breaking the rules that is terribly satisfying. My fingers sometimes go where they want to on the keyboard and I sort of have to take them back home or rein them in."

    After unsuccessful attempts to record her own music, Huguette opted for a professional studio, developed a website, and hired Canadian music correspondent, blogger, radio host and music promoter Eric Alper.

    Four albums later and another on the way, as well as several music videos to her credit, Huguette looks forward to even greater productivity going forward.

    Featured on streaming platforms such as Amazon Music, Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, YouTube Music, etc., Huguette's compositions have also earned a place on playlists at CBC Music, CBC Radio One and CKCU Radio. Her piano pieces have also garnered praise from music critics at OLM Ottawalife Magazine, CASHBOX Magazine Canada, Canadian Beats Media, Tinnitist, BK On The Scene, and Record World International—the second-oldest music industry publication behind Billboard.

    Huguette's last assignment was at Blossom Park Public School where she taught music and core French.

    > Visit Huguette's website Piano Notes
    Several YouTube videos have been produced from samplings of my pieces. See an example below.

    First, you find yourself on a mysterious path as you enter a strange, lush, and hypnotic green forest. Then, you let yourself slip into enchantment, illusion, and the supernatural. With a sprinkling of golden, glitter-like fairy dust you are mesmerized. Keep glued to the eyes of the green goddess fairy at the end; you may even think that anything is possible.
    Perhaps all you need is a little PIXIE DUST.

    Donna Edwards, Artist — Paintings and Stitchery
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    Posted March 25, 2023 — I have always been happiest when I am making something! If I can wake up knowing that I have a project to go to, I can't get out of bed fast enough.

    I originally thought I would be an art teacher. But when it came to looking for a teaching position in Ottawa, public school art teachers' positions were not available; so I happily settled into 34 years as a kindergarten teacher. Looking back at my career, I can say that I enjoyed the creativity of developing multi-sensual learning centres for my students, and teaching daily craft projects.

    When my husband and I first moved to Ottawa from Vancouver, newly married, we were like so many others, having to start from scratch. Jobs and houses followed, and I decided when we bought our first home that I would produce all the artwork—why buy others' projects when I was full of ideas of what I could do.
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    I retired at 56, and knew for some time that I would start painting after retirement from the classroom. I started with oil paints, but the odour and the long drying time made this medium a poor match for me. Once I started in acrylic paint, I knew I had found my medium.

    I started out painting for myself—paintings of Paris [my daughter lives there] and our home and some landscapes. But it quickly became apparent that if I wanted to keep painting, I would need to find some way of getting commissions, so that I didn't end up at art shows.

    Painting house portraits is another good match for me—I like houses, and have enjoyed decorating my own home and working on dollhouses. So I boldly advertised in my community newspaper and started out on this next artistic endeavour! I have painted houses from around the world: China, California, Scotland, etc., and have real estate agents that use me regularly. I have met so many interesting people. Best of all, I can keep painting without needing to look for someone to buy the finished piece. If I don't have a commission for a House Portrait to work on, I pick up a stitchery until I do. Or I bake a cake!

    > Visit my website. You can see many of my House Portraits on Facebook at 'Donna Edwards Art', and paintings of Red Pine Camp [a summer camp I attend every year] at 'Red Pine Paintings', also on Facebook.



    I had started designing needlepoints when I was 17, and knew that this was perfect for me. At that time, kits were everywhere but I wanted to 'do my own thing'. I collected wool from thrift shops and still have many boxes of wool to choose from.

    For me, searching for the right colour of yarn is like mixing a shade of paint. I buy painted canvases, also from thrift shops, and stitch of the unpainted side— there is no need to work on a stretcher because the painted canvas doesn't change shape. And I draw on the canvas with a permanent ink pen. Voila! The texture and rich colours of wool, and the way that the finished pieces fit into my Victorian/vintage decor made this a 'craft', a labour of love!

    I made my designs personal: my children, home and pets, were all stitched, and as time passed, I moved onto florals and birds. Always looking for richness in colours and more challenges, I have incorporated embroidery stitches and beads into many of the florals. And once the stitchery is completed, I make sure that the framing matches the richness of the image. I always had a needlepoint to work on throughout my teaching years, and the images included in this article are only a sample of my work.