Gordon Sheppard

Writer, Photographer, Filmmaker


  • Born Montréal, April 9, 1937.
  • University of Toronto (B.A. specialising in Political Science and Economics 1957); Oxford University (M.A. History 1960).
  • Produced and directed public affairs programs and documentaries for CBC-TV and CTV, including The Most, about Playboy’s Hugh Hefner (1962), winner of numerous international film festival awards (San Francisco, Melbourne, Mannheim, Florence, Montréal etc.)
  • Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Canada (1963); Special Consultant on the Arts to the Federal Government (1965). Author of A Special Report on the Cultural Policy and Activities of the Government of Canada 1965-66 (1966).
  • Produced and directed film documentaries for Canadian TV. Hosted CBC radio program on the arts (1967-70). Feature writer and reviewer for Toronto Telegram.
  • Wrote children’s book, The Man Who Gave Himself Away, published by Harlin Quist Books, New York and Paris (1971).
  • Wrote, produced and directed feature film, Eliza’s Horoscope, for Warner Bros. Starring Academy Award winners Tommy Lee Jones and Lila Kedrova. Winner of five Canadian Film Awards (1975), including an award to Sheppard as “Outstanding Canadian Filmmaker of the Year”. Special Jury Award, Festival of the Americas 1975. Represented Canada at Teheran International Film Festival 1975.
  • Produced and hosted TV specials for CFCF-TV, Montréal, 1977-87.
  • Co-wrote Signé Hubert Aquin 1977-85 (Les éditions du Boréal Express 1985), an investigation of the suicide of Canadian writer Hubert Aquin.
  • Began photography 1986.
  • Collaborated with singer Marie-Claire Séguin on the music and lyrics of her album Une femme une planète, 1990.
  • Artist Residency (photography), Banff Center for the Arts, winter 1995.
  • Research, writing and preparation of HA! A Self-Murder Mystery, an expanded investigation of the suicide of a Hubert Aquin, 1977-1999. Published by McGill-Queens University Press 2003.
  • Canada Council fellowship for writing, 2004-2005
  • One child, a daughter, born 1989.



  • 2005-2006 – Raising Africa by the Sheppards. (in preparation) Text by Africa and her parents about how she was raised from pregnancy to age fifteen.
  • 2003 – HA! A Self-Murder Mystery, McGill-Queen’s University Press., pp 870 (fiction)
  • 1985 – Signé Hubert Aquin, Éditions du Boréal Express, Montreal, pp 357 (non-fiction)
  • 1971 – The Man Who Gave Himself Away, Harlin Quist Books, New York, pp 28 (children’s book)
  • 1966 – A Special Report on the Cultural Policy and Activities of the Government of Canada 1965-66, Government of Canada


  • 2006 – “The Wondrous World of Prostate Cancer”, selections from the article to appear in Surviving Prostate Cancer by Fuller Torrey, Yale University Press.
  • 1989 – “Referendum Blues” in Le Syndrome postréférendaire, Editions Alain Stanké (ironic essay about 1980 Quebec referendum)
  • 1989 – “Le Sacre profane” in Liberté (June issue) (a fantasy about Quebec)
  • 1970 – “Violence and the French-Canadian Male” in A Guide to the Peaceable Kingdom, an anthology edited by William Kilbourn, Macmillan of Canada (essay)
  • 1957-70 – Divers articles and reviews in Canadian newspapers

Films and Screenplays

  • 1989 – Le mort moqueur (feature film recounting episodes in the life of filmmaker Claude Jutra for which a 10 minute presentation film was made)
  • 1985 – Ile d’Orléans, documentary.
  • 1976 – Eliza’s Horoscope (feature film starring Elizabeth Moorman, Tommy Lee Jones and Lila Kedrova).
  • 1967 – The Stormy Clovers, documentary about a Canadian musical group.
  • 1967 – Love, documentary.
  • 1964 – Dreamgirl, documentary about Elaine Bédard, Québec model and TV host.
  • 1962 – The Most, documentary about Hugh Hefner of Playboy.
  • 1961 – Three Canadian Provincial Premiers of the Thirties, four part documentary about William Aberhart (Alberta), Maurice Duplessis (Québec), and Mitch Hepburn (Ontario).


  • 1990 – Une femme, une planète, album of songs co-written with Marie-Claire Séguin.
  • 1975 – “Marilyn” – sung by Jaye P. Morgan.
  • 1970 – “Mr. Plum” (lyrics by Sheppard, music by Charlebois) on Version originale, album by Robert Charlebois.


Reflections – General Statement

I’ve been creating photographic art since 1986, and exhibiting my work since 1992. Lately I’ve been concentrating on large-scale works in colour. A number of preoccupations have guided my work:

  1. I believe a serious artist should provide publicly useful revelation rather than privately gratifying confession.
  2. Moving images demand involvement in the fleeting moment; photographic images invite meditation over time (cf Susan Sontag’s “Life is a movie, death is a photograph.”). As such, photography appeals to the sensual priest-spiritual historian who make up my animus.
  3. I’m dismayed at how indifferently and inappropriately most works are framed. I believe how a work is framed is integral to its effect.
  4. Since photography is not yet generally recognized as art by the public-at-large, I try to reinforce its status as art when conceiving my frames. For example, given that the public associates canvas with art, I mounted the images of my Étapes/Stages exhibition on canvases. It’s also why the images of Watervisions go to the edge of the frame rather than be set off by a matte, and why I’m preparing a series of photographic works presented in old gilt frames originally made for paintings.
  5. Though I’ve taken some “classic” photographs — images that immediately resonate and rest in memory for virtually anyone of moderate visual sophistication in Western culture — creating such images is a rarity. However, I believe — along with Warhol, the Starn Brothers et al — that it’s possible to present and combine non-classic images in ways that create major art.
  6. I’m fascinated that a single negative, via changes in colours, tints, densities and sizing that can be produced on a computer or in the darkroom, may yield a variety of prints, each evoking a different emotional response. Hence I often use various takes from the same negative in creating my art, an approach that no doubt reflects my experience as a filmmaker. Monet, Rothko and Rembrandt have also influenced my thinking.
  7. Above all, I care about the emotional/spiritual impact of a work of art. Form, including framing, must serve content to provide this impact. I’m not interested in exploring form for form’s sake. It was in order to reinforce the spiritual impact of my work that I used triptych forms for Étapes/Stages; and presented Watervisions in icon boxes.
  8. I wish to create innovative works of lasting beauty which will move people while ministering to their often inchoate or unexpressed needs and desires. The necessary task of creating art that reflects the ugliness, brutality and inequality in life and which calls out for protest and change, I leave to others. Rather than reinforce people’s despair or deepen their dismay and dissatisfaction, I wish, through my art, to celebrate life and reinforce people’s desire to go on living.

Montréal, August 2005


  • Archives personnelles / Personal Archives, comprising photos by Sheppard and poetry by Gérald Godin, presented at Galerie Pink (Montréal) June 22-29 1992; at Les Galeries du SAC, Université de Montréal, September 1993 as part of Le mois de la Photo, Montréal, 1993; and at the Maison des écrivains, Montréal, May 15 – June 15, 1994.
  • Étapes / Stages, at Les Galeries du SAC, Université de Montréal, September 1993 as part of Le mois de la Photo, Montréal 1993; and at La Galerie de l’UQAM ( University of Québec at Montréal) May – June 1994.
  • The Rowing Pictures, Cote St-Luc Library, Montreal, April 2000.
  • Watervisions/Visions d’eau, from 11th August to 11th September 2005, Salon Bibliocafé, Montreal


  • Loto Québec; Bank of Montréal; Fédération des caisses populaires; Rossy foundation; private collectors.

In Preparation

  • Auras: Photographs and painted canvases mounted together.
  • Childhood: Images of childhood from pregnancy into the teenage years.
  • Comparisons: Photographs of the same people taken in the same physical attitude, at different times in their lives.
  • Gold Rush: Multi-image interpretaions of photographs taken in the Yukon 1908-14.
  • Sacred Portraits: Photographic portraits of Quebecers of various ethnic origins and faiths wearing Catholic vestments.

Associations, Memberships

  • Directors Guild of America
  • Canadian Independant Film Caucus
  • Writers Union of Canada