Sandy Hill mourns loss of award-winning filmmaker Peter Evanchuck
While the return of Sandy Hill’s One & Only craft fair this past November was a joyous occasion, for many it was also a sad reminder of the loss of a friend and neighbour, Peter Evanchuck, who passed away on September 20, 2022, at the age of 82.
When a group of Sandy Hill neighbours started the One & Only in 2006, Evanchuck prepared a free buffet for hundreds of people. His partner, Hélène Lacelle, one of the founders of the One & Only, recalls: “My mom said ‘This is a banquet, not a buffet!’ He would walk the floor, with his chef’s hat and serve people. As many people came for food as for the craft show.”
If you are a faithful reader of IMAGE, you will remember Evanchuck’s regular feature, about his movies, art shows, or the Sandy Hill community garden he loved so much.
Evanchuck lived in Robinson Village with Lacelle, his partner in life and creativity. I sat down with Lacelle in November to learn more about the personal side of the man I unfortunately never had the privilege of knowing.
Shares Lacelle: “He loved the Rideau River, kayaking, riding his bike along the trail. Every morning he visited the garden to count tomatoes and pick berries, and then made his way to his bench to eat sardines.” Lacelle has kept all the sardine cans and plans to eventually turn them into a piece of art.
Evanchuck held several degrees in literature, theatre, and film and spent 20 years teaching in universities and colleges. When he received a cancer diagnosis in 2006, he left teaching to dedicate himself to creating original media with Lacelle, herself a mixed-media visual artist.
They began with a series of books then they moved on to movies. Together, they produced nine movies which garnered critical acclaim in Canada and internationally. Crazy Daisy May, filmed in New Brunswick and starring Lacelle, won nine international awards.
Evanchuck’s movies dealt with mental illness, individuality, and existential ideas of how life should be lived freely and creatively.
“He sought truth,” says Lacelle. “He was a bubble-burster for sure. He wanted to demystify the reality of everything; that was his mantra.”
Evanchuck’s drive to create never faltered, despite the marathon of medical treatments. Even when he broke a leg and shoulder while undergoing chemotherapy, he still drove from Ottawa to Chipman, New Brunswick, where he and Lacelle have a second homeÑtheir “art house,” she calls it.
“Every day, as sick as he was, he would not stop,” says Lacelle, wiping the tears from her cheek. “He taught me you can do anything. Nothing is impossible.”
While his professional life was on the world’s stage, there was a Peter not many knew. My conversation with Lacelle ended on this touching note: “What was in his heart, the depth of his soul, I don’t think people really knew.”
To learn more about Peter Evanchuck’s and Hélène Lacelle’s work, visit: www.bookshandmade.com ; www.movieshandmade.com and www.marvelousrealismcanada.blogspot.com/.
To read Evanchuck’s articles in previous issues of IMAGE, see: http://home.imagesandyhill.org/tag/peter-evanchuck/
All our contributions to understanding life start with our curiosity to pursue knowledge of our lives and our culture.
— Peter Evanchuck