Fonds UBCA-ARC-1300 - Helen Dahlstrom fonds

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Title proper

Helen Dahlstrom fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Photographic material

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  • Source of title proper: The title is based on the contents of the fonds.

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  • 1929-1999, predominant 1968-1999 (Creation)
    Dahlstrom, Helen

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Physical description

1.04 m of textual records
24 photographs : b&w and col. ; 20 x 25 cm or smaller

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Helen Arline Dahlstrom (née Underbakke) was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, to Norwegian-Canadian parents. She had two children with Alton Dahlstrom, Carol Boldt and Dr. David Dahlstrom. She was a pianist, organist, accompanist, music teacher, choir conductor, examiner and adjudicator. She received her teacher's diploma in piano (ACTM) from the Toronto Conservatory of Music in 1930, her Solo performer's diploma (RMT) in 1932 from the Toronto Conservatory of Music, and her Licentiate of Music diploma (LMUS) from the University of Saskatchewan in 1934. Her primary music education with Cyril Hampshire at the Regina Conservatory of Music from 1929 to 1935 was followed by a summer internship in 1935 with Stephen Balogh at the Cornish School in Seattle. In 1944 she moved to Winnipeg and took private lessons with Leonard Heaton until 1946 and 1947 to 1949 with recitalist and teacher Boris Roubakine in Calgary. She started her career as a pianist at 16 when she played the Schumann Concerto with the Regina Symphony Orchestra. In 1940, she was the accompanist for John Goss on a Western Canada tour and continued accompanying other instrumentalists in recitals, including Elfreda Gleam and Reginald Kell. In Regina, she was frequently heard on the radio, from 1940 to 1943 on CJRM, and from 1945 to 1947, on CBC Radio, in Winnipeg. In 1950, she moved to Rossland, British Columbia, serving as organist-choirmaster for St. Andrews United Church. In 1964, she became conductor of the A Capella Singers of the Rossland Trail branch. She led this choir in various southeast British Columbia centres for almost ten years.
Dahlstrom has served on numerous boards to further the arts provincially, nationally, and internationally. She was president of the British Columbia Registered Music Teachers Association (BCRMTA) from 1970 to 1972 and a British Columbia Arts Board member. In addition, Dahlstrom served as chair of the Music Committee, as chair of the Fine Arts Division of the Academic Council, as a committee member of the Arts and Education Council, and as a board member of the Touring Council. Nationally, she was a member of the Regional Committee for the Explorations program of the Canada Council between 1979 and 1980, board member of Canada Council, president of the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers Association (CFMTA) from 1971 to 1975, national chair of Canada Music Week (CMW) from 1969 until the mid-1990s, and member of the board of Governors of the Canadian Conference of the Arts from 1979 to 1983. Internationally, she was a member of the European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA) and board member of the International Society of Music Educators (ISME) for Canada. Since 1965, she has adjudicated several festivals, examinations and competitions across North America. These places include the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto from 1984 to1989; the Western Board of Music for the Universities of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba; Mount Royal College in Calgary; the international competition at Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1986; and the Young Keyboard Artists Association competition at Los Angeles, California in 1989. In 1989, she received the Home of Champions Award to recognize her dedication, achievement and contribution to the Arts in the Home of Champions in Trail, British Columbia. She is listed in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada (1992) and Women of Notes: 1,000 women composers born before 1900 (1978). She compiled and edited the Canada Music Week Silver Anniversary Collection (1985) and the Canadian Composers: mini-biographies (1989), which is now part of the music syllabuses of the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto and the Western Board of Music.

Custodial history

The fonds remained in Helen Dahlstrom's custody until July 1999, when she donated it to William Bruneau of the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. Bruneau subsequently transferred the whole of the fonds, which had been stored in three boxes, to the University Archives on 15 November 1999.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records generated by Helen Dahlstroms activities in her capacity as a pianist, accompanist, music teacher, choir conductor, examiner, adjudicator, and national, provincial and international arts and music boards. The records relate to personal and administrative daily activities concerning music and the arts, mainly in western Canada and to a lesser extent in the United States, England, France and Africa. The records consist of personal and administrative correspondence, newspaper clippings, concert programs, newsletters of music associations, bibliographies of chief Canadian composers, material relating to music teaching, histories of music associations and musicians, curriculum vitae, speeches, Canadian music sheets, jury lists and schedules of music examinations, music evaluation notes, financial records, grant proposals, promotional material, annual reports of music associations, minutes of meetings of music associations, and miscellaneous material. In addition to the textual records, the fonds consists of a small number of photographs. The records have been arranged into the following series:
• Biographical material (1929-1993)
• Personal correspondence (1940-1999)
• Records relating to Canada Music Week committee (1970-1992)
• Records relating to Music and Arts organizations (1968-1992)
• Miscellaneous photographs (between 1970 and 1990)

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The original arrangement of the fonds was reconstructed on the basis of file markings on the creators folders. Records that were not incorporated in the original scheme are filed according to their content and documentary form.

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  • English
  • French

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Updated in January 2021, JM.

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