Durham Folklore Society was started in September 1990 by our founder, Dr. George Blake, and a handful of enthusiasts. The membership blossomed to become a forum for storytellers and those interested in storytelling and folklore.
Over the years, we organized many storytelling concerts, developed and delivered workshops on storytelling, continued our membership drives, and attracted much media coverage.
After several years, Durham Folklore Society changed our name to Durham Storytellers to better identify our members as storytellers and to reflect the various types of storytelling that we deliver. We continued to grow our membership, be involved in community events and attract a media following.
George Blake once said, “I notice that Durham Storytellers follow this pattern. It protects against becoming stale or moribund. A change or shakeup can be very therapeutic. The organization has now gone through another christening since its formation. A toast to the Durham Storytellers! We are a dynamic bunch! Let’s keep it going and we’ll be alright!” Sadly, Dr. George Blake passed away in 2018 at the age of 95 years.
To follow in his footsteps, we continue to be vibrant and progressive, in order to keep our storytelling group together and thriving.
Dr. George Blake (1922-2018)
George was one of the original founders of Storytellers of Canada. As a respected elder in the storytelling community, he spent his years researching folklore, reading and writing, listening to music, and playing his djembe drum.
George Blake specialized in cultural stories from his African/Caribbean heritage, as well as Jataka Tales (Buddhist legends), based on his studies and experiences as a former bhikkhu (Buddhist monk). He also wrote his own stories, and used a combination of Afro-Caribbean drumming and storytelling.
His interests expanded to writing, adapting and producing material that blended storytelling, percussion, voice, and dance in conveying the story. The Kalalu Folklore Theatre was his medium for these creative endeavours.
George's experience as a storyteller, along with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Edinburgh, equipped him to offer workshops on managing stage fright and other elements of performance anxiety.
George's last performance with Durham Storytellers was in 2016. He passed away on January 10, 2018.
In June 2022, the Dr. George Blake Parkette in Oshawa was dedicated in his name. The parkette features a Storytime Circle in recognition of his unique gift of storytelling.
About Our Storytelling Elders
Elders are greatly respected in the storytelling community. Elders are the voices of wisdom. Many collect our histories and traditions, passing them on to the next generation. Our storytelling elders began telling stories early in their careers. With their many years of storytelling experience, they continue to encourage and inspire others to become better storytellers.