Gunda Lambton got her first degree at the age of 69 and hasn’t slowed down
Photos by Tony Fouhse
Gunda Lambton, MA/88, marked her 80th birthday in 1994 in an uncommon way: with the publication of her first full-length book, Stealing the Show: Seven Women Artists in Canadian Public Art (McGill-Queen’s University Press). “I was quite surprised,” she says dryly. “You write about what interests you, which isn’t always what interests publishers.”
The book began as Lambton’s MA thesis. After earning her BA in English at the University of Ottawa at the age of 69, she was drawn to Carleton’s Canadian Studies program by its wide scope and well-known instructors. As a docent at the National Gallery of Canada, she was eager to expand her knowledge of North American art.
After writing the book about the artists, Lambton went on to write, co-write and illustrate other books, including The Wildest Rivers, the Oldest Hills (Voyageur Publishing, 1996) about the Gatineau Valley in west Quebec and The Frankenstein Room (Voyageur, 2000), short stories about her childhood in Germany in the 1920s. Her book about her life in Toronto during the Second World War, Sun in Winter: A Toronto Wartime Journal, 1942 to 1945 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004) came out the year she turned 90.
At 96, Lambton has no shortage of book ideas. She has written a memoir of a year she spent in Spain in the mid-1930s, before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, and has kept a journal of the 35 years she and her second husband spent on a farm in the Gatineau Valley. She says her late-in-life university career helped fuel her continuing interest in writing. “The mental activity, insights and working habits acquired while studying at Carleton have made all the difference.”