Jean Duce Palmer

Jean Duce Palmer was born in Cardston, Alberta in 1923. At 18 she attended the Banff School of Fine Arts where she wrote her first one-act play, Airman’s Forty-eight. It was produced by the Banff School of Fine Arts in 1943, and had many subsequent productions in wartime Alberta. After she married Dr. Leslie Lamonte Palmer, she moved to Europe where she wrote radio plays for Alberta School Broadcasts. Between 1948 and 1962, she wrote over 100 radio scripts, and these were aired by the Western Canada Regional Educational Broadcasts in Alberta. Meanwhile, she lived in England, Holland, and Greece where her husband was posted, working for Canadian embassies as medical officer between 1952 and 1973.

In 1970 she received a diploma of Art History at the University of London, and on returning to Canada completed her Honours B.A. in Art History from Carleton University. She taught Art History for the Ottawa Board of Education for twelve years, until her husband was posted to Kenya. In 2002 she was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for her work with the National Portrait Collection in Kenya, and her work with Built Heritage committees in Ottawa. In 1999 she received the Ontario Heritage Foundation Award for her work in preserving heritage architecture. Since 2005 Jean Duce Palmer has been a docent at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, where she lectures regularly on works in the collection.    

In April 2014, Jean Duce Palmer was a writer- in-residence at the Banff Centre where she completed her new play, Miss Bruce’s War, based on her Alberta war-time diary while teaching in a one-room school in a German-speaking community. On June 18th and 25th, 2016 Miss Bruce’s War was performed at the Ottawa Fringe Festival to full houses. That production, directed by Angela Boychuk¸ was nominated for a 2016 Capitol Critics’ Circle Theatre Award.  

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