Fonds F0177 - Winnifred Eaton Reeve fonds.

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Winnifred Eaton Reeve fonds.


  • 1898-2002 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

4.20 m of textual records and other material.

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Canadian novelist and screenwriter Winnifred Eaton Reeve, née Eaton, was born in Montreal, Quebec. Though her birth date is sometimes given as 1879, she was born on August 21, 1875. At age 17 she went to Jamaica to report debates of the Legislative Council. In 1897 she moved to Chicago at which time her short stories were first published in The Saturday Evening Post and other periodicals.

Reeve was of mixed Chinese and British ancestry, but she assumed an English Japanese identity, which was more politically acceptable at the time, and wrote under the pseudonym Onoto Watanna. Her first novel, Miss Nume, was published in 1899, followed by her best-selling novel, A Japanese Nightingale, in 1901. She continued to publish novels at about the rate of one per year.

In 1917, after marrying Francis F. Reeve, she moved to a ranch near Morley, Alberta, and then after several years to Calgary. She was prominent in cultural organizations in Calgary, founding the Little Theatre movement and serving as first president of the Calgary branch of the Canadian Authors Association. She lived in the United States from 1924 to 1931, where she worked as an editor for Universal Pictures and wrote stories and screenplays for several film companies, such as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Fox Films and Universal Pictures. Reeve returned to Calgary in 1931; however, poor health restricted her writing and she wrote only a few short stories after that time. She died on April 8, 1954 in Butte, Montana, while on route to Calgary, Alberta, from California.

Further biographical information available in Onoto Watanna : the story of Winnifred Eaton Reeve / by Diana Birchall (Urbana, Illinois : University of Illinois Press, 2001). Winnifred Reeve's work and interest in the theatre prompted a generous donation by the Francis F. Reeve Foundation, which made possible the construction of the Reeve Theatre at the University of Calgary.

Archival history

Fonds transferred in 1982 from the Glenbow Archives, Calgary, Alberta. MsC 329 donated by Diana Birchall in 2002. Elizabeth Rooney donated 2023.02.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of personal and business correspondence; contracts; biographical material; manuscripts of short stories, novels, articles, screenplays and screenplay adaptations; published work; newsclippings of articles about W. E. Reeve and reviews of novels and screenplays; and other miscellaneous material. An additional accession, MsC 329, consists of a videotape of Diana Birchall discussing her book, Onoto Watanna : the story of Winnifred Eaton Reeve, on Connie Martinson Talks Books, Santa Monica, California, May 2002.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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Conditions governing access

No restrictions on access.

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    Script of material

      Language and script notes

      Text in English.

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      Title based on contents of the fonds.


      Includes 1 videocassette from MsC 329, integrated into Accession 899/82.13. Nov.2022 clc.

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          Archivist's note

          Extremely fragile. Contains sensitive terminology throughout.

          Archivist's note

          Accession 899/82.13 rehoused from 19 boxes to 24. Nov. 2022. 2023.02 appended to finding aid in 2023

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