I have put interviewing people on hold for a few weeks, while we work through this difficult time. Consequently I have dug into my vault of articles on interesting people, and was intrigued by one, which brought back a few memories of an interesting encounter.
There are many notable individuals residing in Uxbridge and yes, we even have one who has won a Genie and a handful of Gemini awards. Of course it is none other than Kenneth Welsh; one of Canada’s most well known actors. His forty years of experience stretches from Stratford and Broadway to Canadian films, television and Hollywood blockbusters. He has appeared in more than 233 movies and television shows and has an extremely recognizable face.
Born in Edmonton, Ken got the acting bug through sheer coincidence. He took drama in high school, because it was an easy credit. His teacher arranged for some unique plays, which Ken sunk his teeth into. He enjoyed it so much that he attended the National Theatre School in Alberta. “My instructor, Gordon Peacock, told me that I would be a natural, as I possessed charm, ability and sex appeal.” He laughed loudly as he spoke. “I hope I still have it,” he added.
Ken left Alberta and headed for Stratford, where at 26, he played Hamlet for seven seasons. From Stratford he made his way to Broadway, where he enjoyed success and lived for 12 years. In 1982 he was lured to Montreal for a short time to star in the miniseries, Empire, Inc.
He won his third Gemini for his performance as Colin Thatcher in Love and Hate, the first Canadian film to top the Nielsen ratings. Ken played opposite Kathy Bates in the 1987 film, Frankie and Johnny. His numerous film credits include, The Day After Tomorrow, The Aviator and Legends of the Fall. In 2004 Ken added another award to his vast collection; he was made a member of the prestigious Order of Canada.
I asked Ken what his favourite role has been, and he immediately said that of Angus MacNeil in Margaret’s Museum, a role for which he won a Genie as Best Supporting Actor. “I truly enjoyed working with Helena Bonham Carter [in the role of Margaret MacNeil].” Ken said.
He is currently involved in four projects, all of which are in post-production, and has recently captured the role of Larry Loomis in Lodge 49. At 77, he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. 2017 saw Ken in seven series or films, including Salvation, Undercover Grandpa and the top rated, The Blacklist.
Kenneth Welsh lives on the outskirts of Uxbridge, and when he is not portraying famous people he putters in his garden. I asked him about a net he had in front of a window? “I’m trying to keep a bird from constantly flying into it,” he replied. Apparently a robin is desperately trying to get into Ken’s house though the window. As we sat in his back yard, a raccoon walked along the roof. I stared at it, but Ken seemed to consider it a co-owner of his house.
Ken moved to Uxbridge in the early nineties after living in Toronto for a year. A visit to friends in this area was enough to attract him to the peace and tranquility of North Durham.
Next time you stream a movie or visit the Roxy you never know, you just may see Kenneth Welsh in one of the hundreds of roles he has portrayed, or perhaps, sitting in the audience.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. His show, ‘The Jonathan van Bilsen Show,’ on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube, features many of the people included in this column.