Goldie Rans working at the Forest City Gallery, 1974. Photographer unknown (possibly Don Vincent). Image courtesy of Sara Rans.
FCG was recently fortunate to have Carleton University student and Londoner Lydia Teeple as our 2023 Summer Research Intern. Lydia's archival explorations led her to spend time researching Goldie Rans, Forest City Gallery's first manager from 1973 to 1976-77. In addition to her work with FCG, Goldie was also an art writer and curator. According to daughter Martha Rans, Goldie was a champion of many London artists, and Goldie and husband Geoffrey Rans were active politically and socially, supporting reconciliation, goals toward Indigenous self-determination and Land Back at the early onset of these movements. Many thanks to Lydia for this research, to Martha and Sara Rans for their personal anecdotes, and to Sara for these beautiful images of Goldie. Thank you to Judith and Wilson Rodger for sponsoring this Summer Research Internship.
As Summer 2023 draws to a close, so too does my incredibly rewarding internship with Forest City Gallery (FCG). Thanks to FCG and Western University Special Archives and collections, I was able to explore an array of letters, photos, and newspaper clippings (as well as the odd doodle) in hopes of reviving parts of the gallery’s history. As expected, I was thrust into a bombardment of folders containing the remnants of previous exhibitions that were each as captivating as the next. However, as my research continued, I found my attention shifting off the canvas and onto the people. Letters, notes, and other methods of correspondence revealed the artists’ and staff’s passion for the gallery and its success. I have come to associate this passion with Goldie Rans, the gallery’s first manager during the 70s.
Goldie’s representation in the archives differed greatly from the other individuals associated with the gallery, a fact which drew my interest quite quickly to her. There were no folders dedicated to her art pieces or newspaper clippings singing her praises, and yet, she remained a constant presence throughout my research. She appeared most commonly in letters that ranged in subject and recipient, but all alluded to a friendly woman devoted to uplifting both the artists and the establishment. This devotion that she demonstrated seemed to be aided by her resourceful and perseverant mindset, most notably displayed in an interesting exchange between the gallery and a man named Stanley Sarazin.
Goldie Rans. Date unknown. Photographer unknown. Image courtesy of Sara Rans.
In this exchange, Goldie, and Robert Bozak (the Chairman of the Exhibitions Committee at the time) attempted to invite Sarazin to build a birch bark canoe in the gallery over the course of three weeks to celebrate the 1976 Summer Olympics. Sarazin regrettably refused at first, stating that the money offered was too little to warrant travelling from Golden Lake Reserve (now the Pikwakanagan Reserve), potentially losing his job, and leaving his family of six financially vulnerable. Rather than giving up, mere months before the Games a fundraiser was arranged, and Goldie sent letters to potential sponsors pitching the gallery’s idea and hoping that they might contribute to Sarazin’s pay. Luckily, their efforts would pay off and the exhibit would run later that year.
Goldie’s determination and perseverance were not unique to this instance: in fact, her letters seem indicative that she was always looking for a new way to boost the gallery or an artist into the spotlight. This image of Goldie Rans, pieced together throughout my time at the archives, created an interesting perspective as I continued my research. The newspaper clippings, posters, and photos advertising and commemorating successful art exhibitions gained a new level of depth when paired with her letters that exposed her significance to the gallery’s successes. And so, while Goldie may not have been recognized in the media, her legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of those whose lives she touched during her time at FCG.
Through this experience (and through Goldie Rans) I have come to understand the beauty and importance of galleries like FCG; galleries devoted to encouraging and uplifting all types of artists, especially the new, and galleries that assist artists’ growth and protect their ability to express themselves freely. But most importantly, galleries with people like Goldie, who (alongside others equally as passionate) were able to kickstart a journey lasting 50 years and counting.
Image: Goldie Rans, listening intently. Date unknown. Photographer unknown. Image courtesy of Sara Rans.
Lydia Teeple is a second year History and Political Science student at Carleton University. In her spare time, she enjoys learning about different classical civilizations and reading fantasy books. Her internship with FCG was an especially intriguing opportunity due to her interest in pursuing archival work after undergrad. Published by Forest City Gallery, September 2023.
Watch archival footage, "A canoe ride in London Ontario, 1970s," uploaded to YouTube by Mark Favro. The description for the video reads: "Murray Favro, Bob Bozak, Steve Menzies, Goldie Rans try out a canoe built by Stanley Sarazin in Harris Park on the Forks of the Thames in London Ontario Canada in the 1970s."