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As part of my MFA project with the University of King's College School of Journalism (Dalhousie), I am currently working on my second book titled 

Letters to Obasama – Undressing Stereotypes

In 1981, Joy Kogawa, Canadian poet and novelist, introduced North Americans to the Japanese word Obasan – a respectful term for ‘aunt’ – in her ground-breaking novel about racism in Canada. Through the eyes of a young girl, Kogawa famously tells of the tragic internment and persecution of its citizens of Japanese descent during the Second World War.

My thematically rich, hybrid-memoir will introduce North Americans to the word Obasama – an endearing term for an unrelated older woman – in a story about an antidote to racism found in the form of an in-person, cross-cultural, cross-generational friendship between a 70-year-old Japanese housewife and a 30-year-old single Canadian woman. My book exposes tensions between what is true and what is not true in cross-cultural situations. Ultimately, Letters to Obasama – Undressing Stereotypes is about what it takes to help us move beyond stereotypes.


My First Book:
Book cover for "Ted Grant - Sixty Years of Legendary Photojournalism"

Ted Grant: Sixty Years of Legendary Photojournalism (Heritage House 2013) is based on fifty interviews with Ted and Irene Grant in their home. I followed that foundation with weeks of research at the national archives in Ottawa. The archivist, Irene and I
may be the only three to have looked at all of the enormous collection of over 300,000 photographs in the entire Ted Grant Collections.

For Ted Grant fans – and there are many – below is an audio clip of the first of 50 interviews I did with Ted in his and Irene’s living room in February 2011. It will give you a sense of what is going on in the head of the man known as “the father of Canadian photojournalism”. Imagine it multiplied many times, and you will get a sense of why I was determined to keep interviewing him and to write about his life. 

First (of 50) Interviews
with Ted Grant

Thelma and ted standing together laughing in the kitchen
Photo Credit: Daryl Jones

Book Review:

Additional Book Review Excerpts

Fayle asked Grant if he’d consider letting her write his biography, interspersed with some of his finest photos. He agreed. It took her almost four years. She spent many hours at the National Gallery and the Library and Archives Canada, poring over 300,000 of Grant’s photos to choose the 100 that appear in the book. She conducted more than 100 hours of interviews. She sought anecdotes from friends, colleagues and former students. And she wove it all together, highlighting his photos.

– Carol Goar, Toronto Star


Thelma Fayle’s Ted Grant: Sixty Years of Legendary Photojournalism is a fascinating retrospective on Ted Grant, who is also known as the father of Canadian photojournalism… Fayle’s engaging writing pulls you in and then makes you want to turn the page to find out what happened next… an excellent book about one of Canada’s most esteemed photojournalists. And it’s one I’d put on the required reading list if I were to teach a photography course.

– Jenny Montgomery, Photolife magazine


This book reminds us of Ted’s enormous talent and gives us an idea of the breadth of his understanding and skill as a photographer…  But it also shows us how a kind, determined, generous and brilliant man has made one of the greatest contributions to our country’s history through the lens of his camera.

– Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, Former Prime Minister of Canada, and Maureen McTeer, Ted Grant: Sixty Years of Legendary Photojournalism, Foreword


Through a carefully crafted selection of stunning images and charming anecdotes, Thelma Fayle has captured the ‘spirit of Ted’ perfectly. This book is a welcome and long overdue tribute to a wonderful photographer. “

– Joan M. Schwartz, Phd, Queens University (Formerly a specialist in photography acquisition and research at the National Archives of Canada for more than two decades prior to her faculty appointment.)


It was an adventure into my past each week when Thelma asked questions that took me back 30 or 40 years or more. Some weeks the interviews were very emotional as I lived through some of the darker moments of what I had photographed … wars, Chernobyl and other types along those lines.”

– Ted Grant, Photolife magazine


Another Ted Tribute

When Ted died in 2020, Canada’s National newspaper, the Globe & Mail, saw fit to publish a two-page spread – a large amount of A section newspaper space – featuring Ted Grant's life work. I was deeply honoured to write the full-hearted eulogy for my friend.

  • Photojournalist Ted Grant put real Canadians in the National Archives (.pdf)

    As a young photojournalist in 1955, Ted Grant was among the nine million people in 69 countries to see The Family of Man, a travelling photo display. Curated by Edward Jean Steichen, director of photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the massive work was a turning point in the history of photography appreciation. The show was composed of 503 photos from 68 countries, taken by 273 photographers. Steichen’s goal was to create a snapshot of the human experience and to validate the role of photojournalism. Ted never forgot the inspiring effect of The Family of Man exhibition. The black and white images were full of magic for him…