Award Namesakes: These awards have been created and donated in the memory of someone from the community. This page tells the story of some of these special people.
Betty Hantiuk Memorial Award
Speech Arts Solo
Betty Hantiuk, the daughter of Charles Brinton and Margaret Callahan, was born in Vegreville in 1919 and died in 2004. She was raised on her parents’ farm, a few miles east of Vegreville. She attended Normal School in Edmonton and taught for several years before marrying John
Hantiuk. They raised six children, and Betty returned to teaching and substitute teaching in Vegreville for many years. Throughout her life in Vegreville, she volunteered in many local organizations, including the Wendy Brook Music Festival.
Betty’s interest in music stemmed from her father’s participation in the Vegreville Elks Band during the 1920s and 1930s. She herself never received any music lessons, but she enjoyed music and encouraged her children to learn to play a musical instrument. As a teacher, she
organized many Christmas concerts and rehearsed songs, plays, and recitations with her students.
Betty was a talented writer who frequently contributed articles in local newspapers and won prizes for her creative writing. One of her final projects was writing her memoirs of growing up in the Vegreville area, which she called Brinton’s Hill.
Betty would be very pleased to know that the Wendy Brook Music Festival is still held every year, and that her family proudly contributes a prize in in honour.
Heather Soldan Memorial Award
Best overall violin performance, fiddle or classical.
Heather Soldan was a schoolteacher/journalist/author who moved from the Okanagan to Vegreville in 1990, and settled in Two Hills soon after, when she married Allan Soldan. She has two books published (‘All Things Considered’, and ‘Now That’s An Egg!’) and edited another (‘Pulse to Pen, Remembering When’, stories about Vegreville) all under her previous name, Heather Glebe. Heather followed in her father’s footsteps and played the fiddle, and
when Colette Miller in Vegreville encouraged her to teach her girls to play, Heather took up the challenge. Thus began a new career extending for more than twenty years, and she soon had a steady stream of beginner and intermediate violin students in Two Hills, Vegreville and surrounding areas. To broaden her students’ overall learning experiences (like stage presence and confidence), Heather always encouraged them to take part in the Wendy Brook Music Festival and various fiddle camps, where they could meet other fiddlers.
In 1993 Heather founded “The Fiddlin’ Kiddlins,” and this group of children and teens (along with a takeoff group, “The Fiddlin’ Grannies”), were very active in the area, volunteering entertainment for seniors’ homes, community events, family dances and an annual concert; each year with a different theme, and complete with stage backdrops, costumes, singing and dancing and of course, fiddling. The events helped to provide funding for occasional group field trips, including one to the symphony in Edmonton and one to Calvin Vollrath’s studio. Heather and helpful parents poured hours of volunteer time and energy into the group field trips, which enriched not only the students, but the communities as well - until her sudden and untimely passing in May, 2014. She had expressed many times that she felt very privileged to teach young people who really wanted to learn to play, and whose parents supported them to play. She also felt honoured to have her students involved with organizations like Wendy Brook Festival and the Alberta Society of Fiddlers.
Heather Soldan wrote a number of fiddle tunes, two of which Calvin Vollrath included in her memory in his 2015 CD Release: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5zKUdof0PU. She also served on the board of the Alberta Society of Fiddlers, and for many years taught the Beginner class at their winter camps. With her passion for music and youth, along with her endless energy, creativity and gift for teaching, she impacted many young people in their musical journeys. Her husband Allan and family are proud of her accomplishments, and elected to support Wendy Brook Music Festival with a trophy to be awarded annually in her memory.
Gladys Wyllie Memorial Award
Gladys Emily Wyllie (nee Kelly) was born in England and immigrated to Canada with her parents when still a young child. The family settled on a farm less than eight miles south of Vegreville, moving to Edmonton a few years later.
As a young woman, Gladys worked in the GWG factory. She loved to sing and play the piano and enjoyed singing in St. Luke's Anglican Church choir in Edmonton. The family moved to Vancouver when Gladys was eighteen years old, where she again sang in the
In her early twenties, Gladys contracted polio and became slightly handicapped with her walking. In 1936 ,after her recovery, she married James Wyllie in Burnaby, B.C. and returned to the Vegreville area -to enjoy life on a farm within a half-mile of her former home!
Gladys was a member of the Old Vegreville Women's Institute and then, of course, one of the Charter Members of the Wendy Brook Women's Institute when it was formed in May, 1950. She was also present when the group okayed the motion to organize the
Wendy Brook Music Festival and would constantly ask the leaders if there was something she could do to help. Many would remember Gladys (as long as her health enabled her to attend the final Festival Concerts) guiding her wheelchair to the base of the stage so that she could personally present her awards to the deserving recipients.
Awesome! Dear to her heart were also the twenty-five years of Carol Festivals and the final concert in 1985.
Following Gladys's passing in 1995, her daughter, June Wyard-Scott generously continued presenting awards in honour of her mother.
At Gladys' funeral, it took little effort to gather some former singers- who were now professionals or busily occupied - grateful for the opportunity of offering a musical farewell to Gladys, who will always be remembered for her kindness, her generosity and her keen interest in people.