January 31, 2019 6:57 pm

Whitby girl receives prize from Governor General for original hand-drawn book

Governor General Julie Payette presented a Durham Region girl with a prize this week for her book that tells the story of a rare moment in Canadian history. Jasmine Pazzano explains why hers was chosen over hundreds of others from across the country.

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A Durham Region girl’s hand-drawn, original booklet about a rare moment in Canadian history has earned her a national illustration prize.

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette gave Kaira Picard, 13, a gold medal on Monday in Ottawa after she won the 2018 Kayak Kids’ Illustrated History Challenge with her book, The Day the Great Falls Stopped Flowing.

“I was so excited,” said Picard, who is from Whitby, Ont. “I was jumping up and down and I really just couldn’t believe it at first.”

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Her booklet takes its readers back in time to the 30 hours in 1848 during which an ice dam on the Niagara River cut off the water supply to Canadian landmark Horseshoe Falls. This is the only time in Canadian history that the waterfall stopped flowing naturally, says Canada’s History Society.

She says she was inspired to write her booklet about this moment in time on Mar. 29 more than 170 years ago after an article about it in an old magazine she was reading literally fell onto her lap.

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“I thought it was really interesting because I didn’t, [and] no one I knew, knew about it,” she said.

“With [Picard], what we really were impressed by was it was such an obscure moment from the past,” said Mark Reid, the editor-in-chief of Canada’s History Magazine, which runs Kayak. “It’s not the same old, same old.”

“Some people might think, ‘Oh, I’m going to do it on D-Day or I’m going to do it on Confederation,'” he continues, speaking to Global News from his office in Winnipeg. “It was such a quirky little moment.”

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Tanzél Picard, Picard’s mother, says her daughter extensively researched about the event before putting pencil to paper to write the book.

“My husband and I are really proud of her,” she said. “She is an amazing person. She has many talents and she’s always sharing them with others.”

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Picard is one of two winners Payette honoured at the Governor General’s History Awards ceremony at Rideau Hall, as Jonathan Chassé, of Gaspe, Quebec, won in the French category of the contest. Canada’s History Society says both winners will receive prizes valued at $1,000 invested in a Registered Education Savings Plan.

Kayak Kids’ annual contest sees students between seven and 14 submit original, historic-themed illustrations from across Canada.

 

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