A tribute to Jackie Burroughs: the most memorable moments from her career

A tribute to Jackie Burroughs: the most memorable moments from her career

To anyone who grew up watching Road to Avonlea or had children during the show’s seven-season run, the death of beloved actor Jackie Burroughs on Wednesday came as a shock. Burroughs, who lived in Toronto, was 71 and suffering from gastric cancer. In honour of the Canadian legend, we’ve compiled our favourite moments from her career.

See them in our slide show >>
The Grey Fox

Burroughs gave a touching, Genie-snagging performance as the feisty feminist photographer Kate Flynn in this gentle western. But we have to admit that the best thing about it was seeing her fall for Anne of Green Gables softie Richard Farnsworth. Matthew Cuthbert and Hetty King?! If wishing made it so…

The More Tales of the City and Further Tales of the City miniseries

Her name is Mother Mucca. She runs a whorehouse. She’s also the mother of Olympia Dukakis, who used to be her son but is now her daughter. Thank you, Armistead Maupin. (Take a look at 3:40 of the clip.)

Last Night

Don McKellar’s apocalyptic 1998 film is a Canadian casting agent’s dream: Geneviève Bujold, David Cronenberg, Callum Keith Rennie, Sandra Oh and Sarah Polley all appear. And Burroughs blasts past them with her ridiculously awesome cameo as a crazed doomsday jogger bent on spending her final moments sprinting through the streets of Toronto, counting down the minutes (at o:46 of the clip).

Road to Avonlea, moment one

Gus Pike and Hetty King are an opposites-attract match made in heaven. In the episode, Gus goes to school and Hetty shows him how to write his name and act like a gentleman. But she’s a subscriber to the tough-love teaching philosophy and has a fantastic r-rolling Hetty outburst—she’s offended by Gus’s rough edges and fiddle playing—but of course warms up to him: “I will help you, Gus, as much as I’m able… Mark my words, boy, you’ll never regret coming to school.” Oh, Hetty—you’re such a softie under that hard shell. (Watch the whole clip up to 5:00.)

Road to Avonlea, moment two

We love it when Aunt Hetty gets all swoony because it means Burroughs awkwardly batting her lashes. One of the best examples is when fellow educator Clive Pettibone gives Hetty a bottle of back medicine, and she hilariously considers it a romantic gesture (8:35 of the clip).

Road to Avonlea, moment three

The speech Hetty gives at the end of the final episode of Road to Avonlea still manages to draw a tear (12:00).

The Care Bears Movie

Sure, Aunt Hetty’s strict schoolmarm routine was pretty terrifying (at least to her students), but Burroughs’ voice work as the evil “Spirit” in 1985’s The Care Bears Movie was shudder-inducing. (Also, how awesome is it that she did The Care Bears Movie?) Take a look at 4:45 of this clip to see what we mean.

Anne of Green Gables

Remember when Anne Shirley recites “The Highwayman” at the Charlottetown Hospital benefit? Now remember the headliner at the event, Amelia Evans? That’s our girl, Jackie, giving a fabulously over-the-top reading of “Wreck of the Hesperus.” Unfortunately, the clip isn’t embeddable, but you can view it here.

With Piper Perabo at TIFF 2005 (Image: Peter Kramer/Getty Images) 

Jackie Burroughs spotting

After her death was announced, our Facebook news feed was full of friends’ accounts of their Toronto run-ins with Burroughs. We spotted her regularly on the Dupont bus, at a drop-in dance class and in the village—her look (red capri pants and wild hair) was a wonderfully shocking contrast to Road to Avonlea’s early-20th-century garb.