Ida Van Courtland Tavernier, 1835-1924

Travelling star of the Victorian stage
Section 50, Lot 63 NE

Born in 1853, Tavernier was an actress of the Victorian era of Canadian life. The name ‘Ida Van Cortland’ was her stage name, while the name Tavernier is her surname by marriage. Her original name at birth was Ellen Buckley.

Tavernier and her family moved from England to Chicago, only to become victims of its great fire of 1871. The fire devastated the family, and left Tavernier as the sole survivor. With few other options, she turned to teaching at age 16, and later moved to Guelph, Ontario to continue teaching. During this period, Tavernier married her first husband and gave birth to a son, Percy Algernon Fowler in 1876. Before her son had turned two, she and her husband had divorced and Tavernier began her career as an actress. She joined Charlotte Morrison’s stage company, which performed in the Grand Opera House in Toronto when not on tour. It was around that time that Ellen Buckley became Ida Van Cortland and quickly rose to became a star per- former, capable of playing a wide range of roles, but especially adept at expressing heavy emotion.

Tavernier met and married actor Albert Tavernier in the winter of 1881 when they were both acting for the same stage company, touring the Maritimes. That summer, the couple married in New York City and together toured with US stage companies. Tavernier’s son, Percy, took on a slightly garbled version of his stepfather’s name and become Percy Algernon Taverner. Percy went on to become a well-recognized ornithologist and wrote Birds of Canada (1934). Eventually they formed their own company, the Tavernier-Lewis Company, later just the Tavernier Company. The company toured Atlantic Canada and the eastern seaboard of the United States in the 1880s, then moved on to Ontario and the northern USA before disbanding in 1896. By 1898 Tavernier had retired from the stage and lived on Big Island, Blue Sea Lacke, Quebec. She remained there until her death in 1924 at age 69.

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