Biography of Isadore Wadow
Isadore Wadow was born in 1950 to Albert and Katherine Wadow of Beardmore, Ontario. Isadore had two sisters and two brothers, one of whom drowned when Isadore was just nine years old.
Introverted by nature and thought by his teachers to be 'slow,' Wadow was mercilessly bullied by his white classmates and abandoned formal education altogether when he was in just grade two after his prized possession, a pedal bike, was stolen by the school bullies.
Much later it was discovered that he suffered from a severe hearing disability which had rendered him almost totally deaf; it may have been an inherited condition, as his mother also suffered from a severe hearing impediment. Instead of going to school, Wadow spent much of his childhood trapping animals with his parents and elders in northwestern Ontario. It was during these formative years that Wadow learned the native Ojibwa legends which later become the subject matter of so many of his paintings.
Wadow's only formal artistic training came in 1972 when he was selected to attend the Manitou Arts Foundation summer school on Schreiber Island, off Manitoulin. Some of the teachers at this school went on to become internationally recognized Woodland artists. Wadow's talent for painting was discovered at the Foundation and he was subsequently invited to show his paintings at art exhibits in Sault Ste. Marie centres, the Canadian National Exhibition in Thunder Bay, and the Eaton Art Centre in Toronto.
Wadow had many hardships to overcome in his short life. In 1974, his father was shot by his aunt's boyfriend and, just four years later, his mother died. At about the same time, Wadow suffered an accident which resulted in a broken hip and leg, which never healed and rendered him crippled for the rest of his life. With little means to support himself, in 1976 Wadow held an invitation-only exhibit at Westmount Hospital to raise funds for a hearing aid and new art supplies.
Wadow became an extremely prolific painter in the early 1980s as he located benefactors and his work found a greater audience. He held exhibits in Thunder Bay at St. Andrew's Church and the Waverly Resource Library. On June 12, 1984, it was announced that two of Wadow's paintings, "Untitled 1984" and "Fish Eagle Looking for Nest," had been selected for inclusion in the Waabanda-iwewin juried art show.
Tragically, just one day before the show was to open, Isadore Wadow was murdered, stabbed to death in downtown Thunder Bay. His murder remains unsolved.
1950 – born: Beardmore, Ontario
1959 – brother, Joseph, drowned
1972 – attended Manitou Arts Foundation summer school on Schreiber Island
1974 – father, Albert, killed
1975 – suffered numerous accidents, including breaking his hip and leg, which permanently crippled him
1976 – Westmont Hospital (Thunder Bay) exhibit and fundraiser
1978 – mother, Katherine, died
December 5, 1980 – public exhibit and sale at Waverly Resource Library, Thunder Bay
June 12, 1984 – two paintings “Fish Eagle Looking for Nest” and “Untitled 1984” selected for inclusion in Waabanda-iwewin juried Indian Art Show
June 24, 1984 – murdered by unknown assailant; buried Lake Helen Mission church, near Nipigon