Who Was Emily Carr?


Students learn about the life and work of Emily Carr, while improving their reading comprehension.

Description of Activity:

Working either in groups or individually, students review a text about Carr and her work.


1 session, 60 minutes

Background Information for Teachers:

Reading the biography of an artist is one of the oldest and most common ways to begin thinking about his or her work. An artist's biography can supply us with information about the artist's birthplace, childhood, education and travels, as well as influential friends and teachers. It can also provide us with insight into the progress of an artist's career. However, biographical information should be approached with the understanding that different authors often interpret the events of an artist's life in different ways.

Read about the life of Emily Carr.

Preparation for Teachers:

  • Read the excerpts that follow this activity, containing biographical information on Emily Carr. (See Appendix 1)

Materials for Students:

  • Student worksheet "The Life of Emily Carr." (See Appendix 2)
  • Student Exercises A and B. (See Appendix 3)
  • Dictionaries
  • Lined paper
  • Writing materials


  • Photocopy "The Life of Emily Carr" worksheet (one for each student).
  • For beginners, divide the class into four groups so that students can work in teams. Intermediate and advanced students may read the text and work in teams or individually.
  • Have students read "The Life of Emily Carr" and use their dictionaries to discuss and define unfamiliar words.
  • Have students complete Exercise A, in which they choose a suitable title for each paragraph of the text.
  • Then have students complete Exercise B, in which they correct a summary of the text that contains errors.
  • When students have finished both exercises, invite them to share new words with the rest of the class.


  • Ask students to discuss what they have learned about Emily Carr. What aspect of her life was most memorable to each group or student? Discuss.

Further Engagement:

  • Invite students to read more about the life of Emily Carr. They may read one or more of the excerpts (Appendix 1) that follow this activity, visit their local public library or search the Internet for further information. Ask students to compare the information they find in this additional source to the information in "The Life of Emily Carr." What is similar about the way the two sources describe the artist? What is different? What type of information does each source include?

Appendix: biographical information
Appendix: student worksheet
Appendix: student exercises