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Wednesday August 26, 2009

Researcher worked with Berton, dancer Augustyn

Historical researcher, documentary film director, producer and narrator Barbara Sears died yesterday, of pancreatic cancer at Grace Hospice in Toronto. She was 63.

A meticulous seeker of illuminating images and telling narrative details, she worked with the late Pierre Berton on several of his books including, The Dionne Quintuplets, The Arctic Grail, and The Klondike Quest: A Photographic Essay 1897-1899, and with the late documentary producer Donald Britain of the National Film Board on many of his films.

A self-described "editorial and visual researcher," she was a founding member of the Visual Researchers' Society of Canada. Eclectic in her interests and passionate about the arts, she also worked with former National Ballet of Canada principal dancer Frank Augustyn on his autobiography, Dancing from the Heart and with comedian Dave Broadfoot, of the Royal Canadian Air Farce, on his memoirs, Dave Broadfoot: An Autobiography.

Ms. Sears, who was born June 11, 1946 in Wood Green, a suburb of London, graduated from the University of Essex, with a bachelor's degree in history in 1967.

She immigrated to Canada four years later, settling first in Ottawa and later moving to Toronto. Over the past three decades she worked with many historians, non-fiction writers, producers and directors to enhance their depictions of the past in dozens of books and documentaries.

Earlier this year she completed a second degree in anthropology at the University of Toronto. Until her diagnosis five months ago, she was intending to begin a master's degree in history this fall.

Predeceased by her father, she leaves her mother and her brother. A celebration of her life is planned for later this month in Toronto.

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