Self Portrait c 1981

Gertjan Zwiggelaar

Born: Amsterdam, the Netherlands, December 26, 1950

Raised as a feral child in: Amsterdam, Maastricht, Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Regina.

Precocious from birth.  ‘I actually remember the moment my babbling became speech whilst still in my crib.’

Set back one grade level upon arrival in a Canadian school.  Learned English in six months and passed up the grades with honours consistently.

Became one of the youngest Queen’s Scouts in Alberta Scouting at age 14, receiving his badge and scroll from Roland Michiner, the Governor General of Canada.  He was also the youngest Troop Scout in Alberta at that age.  He earned an exchange sojourn in Vancouver, all expenses paid by the Boy Scouts Association.

First High School was Mount Royal Collegiate in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Was awarded a trophy plaque reading: Gertjan the Great upon leaving the school for Thom Collegiate in Regina.

After only being in that high school for one year Gertjan became student council president and starred in many theatre productions.  He also served the student body with NFB films which he projected in the school’s theatre at noon.

In Grade 11, Gertjan auditioned for the Saskatchewan Youth Theatre Project and won a place; one of 20 out of 350 students who auditioned province wide.  He also won an all expense trip to Nova Scotia, sojourning in the home of the MLA for Annapolis Royal.

During grade 11 and 12, Gertjan was one of four teen aged hosts on a weekly television program aired on CKCK, Regina.  The show was titled, The Age of Aquarius.

Gertjan won the Student’s Council Scholarship to the University of Regina in 1970 as well as that year’s one and only BFA Entrance Scholarship from the University of Regina.  He was also awarded the silver and gold participation awards which normally required a student four years to earn. Gertjan earned those prizes in two years in that high school.

From 1972 to 1973 Gertjan travelled in Europe and North Western Africa, returning to the UofR in the fall of 1973 and graduating with Distinction in 1974.  He earned Great Distinction in Visual Arts receiving his degree from John Diefenbaker who was the chancellor of the university.

After graduation Gertjan worked at various jobs and returned to travelling, this time for 11 months down the west coast of North America to the border of El Salvador and back.  He survived a massive earthquake in Gautemala which killed more than 22,000 people.

He returned to University in 1977 to study for a Bachelor of Secondary Art Education in Edmonton at the University of Alberta.

In 1978 he began his first stint teaching Art & Drama at Viking Public School whilst completing his B.Ed part time.  He completed the degree with distinction in 1982.

He won a literary award from the Edmonton Journal for a play about aliens celebrating Christmas.  The production was staged at a junior college in Saskatchewan.

He entered five of his paintings in a county wide art and craft fair winning four first and a second prize for assorted genres in oils.

Gertjan became heavily involved with the Zone III branch of the Provincial One Act Play Festival Association and hand crafted very unique wall plaque trophies for the winners of a number of categories.  Those works of art will be worth a great fortune some day; not long in coming.

He left Viking in 1982 in order to take a break in Saskatoon where he painted images and wrote some plays and lots of poetry. He superintended a large apartment building to pay the rent.

Gertjan returned to teaching at Edgerton Public School in Alberta for one year.  In the meantime he had begun part time work marketing health products for Herbalife International.  In his second year his organization achieved 3/4 of a million in sales, (1986), he achieved triple diamond status and was invited to attend the company’s second millionaire training school in Los Angeles.  That work became full time employment for three years until the market slumped and he returned to teaching in 1988 at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School in Red Deer, Alberta.

Gertjan was hired to rebuild a flagging Drama Program.  Within two months of him taking over that program, enrollments for the following semester were so numerous that a second Drama Teacher had to be hired and more space allocated to the increasingly popular program.

During Gertjan’s tenure as the Drama Teacher his program averaged 18 shows per year and his Theatre Sports Teams won gold and silver medals consistently in every competition where he fielded two teams.  Gertjan’s team from his Drama Program in Viking won bronze at an Alberta Winter Games in Wainwright.  The team he fielded in Fort MacMurray, hailing from LTCHS won gold.  He hosted an annual Theatre Sports Festival which ran successfully for five years in Central Alberta.  Twice his students excelled in the Annual One Act Festival having won the place in the Zone Festival which fielded very tough competition.

Gertjan helped with Provincial Drama Curriculum Development.

He served the Alberta High School One Act Play Festival Association for 10 years as Festival Director for five years and as Business Manager for the full 10 years.  He designed the annual Tshirt for the Festival during those years; ‘dropping the ball on one design in all those years and still feel ill about that.’  Gertjan is a perfectionist and does not make too many errors.  However, he freely admits that he is not perfect.  ‘We all fall short of the Glory of God.’

Gertjan stopped teaching Drama in 1992 in order to take over a Visual Art Program because the 15 year veteran, who never bothered to take attendance and had no art of any kind visible on the walls of the huge art studio; a former plumbing training area in the shop wing of the huge high school that was Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School; a school with a province wide reputation for very high standards, was retiring.  Within two months of Gertjan taking over that program, enrolments for the next semester ‘went through the roof’ and a second Art Teacher had to be hired and more space allocated to the Visual Art Program.

He served as Fine Arts Department Head for two years.

Visual Art Students from LTCHS during the five years Gertjan taught that program painted some of the largest paintings the central Alberta Art Teachers had ever seen High School Students achieve before at the annual Central Alberta High School Art Show hosted at the Red Deer Museum & Gallery.  Gertjan’s students added to the incredible mural collection that graced the walls of the school that was.

In 1995 Gertjan began introducing Apple Computers into the Art Program; thereby adding a digital component which was a new idea for Visual Art Education in Alberta High Schools.  Out of that came a new program called:  Visual Communications Technology; VisCom.  The brand new program was launched at LTCHS in 1998 and within short order, THREE Visual Communications Programs were operating in the incredible school.

Gertjan oversaw the cheerleading program for two years and for the same amount of years headed the yearbook as staff advisor.

At some point in the story of Gertjan’s tenure at LTCHS he was asked to design a Drama Teaching facility for a new high school that was being proposed and was built.  Hunting Hills High School.  Gertjan designed a beautiful multi purpose facility with costume shop, carpenter’s shop and so forth; a proper facility for the high flight Theatre Studies Program that a big high school should have in one of the richest places on planet Earth.  Alas the entire project was scaled down and the theatre space became so much less than what it could have been.  Huge money for corporations but pittances for those places most deserving of public money expenditures.

There were paintings done by Gertjan’s students which were reproductions of originals; gorgeous paintings which you would have thought were painted by the original artists; ALL OF THEM GONE!  Not one mural is left in that institution.  Those of my students and those of the amazing Kathy Braitenback.  One mural done by a student of Gertjan’s; a girl who was not very tall; was of a magnificent sunfish from floor to ceiling.  8 x 12 feet.  The colours were so beautiful.  The interior of LTCHS was glorious back in the 1990s.  Even the sunfish was painted over and the glory that was LTCHS; the heart and soul is gone.

Gertjan quit teaching in 2001, having had enough for a while and needed a break.  He wanted to do some travelling, write some books, and paint some paintings.  He had done this before and teaching jobs were always plentifully available.

From the period 2002 until 2005, Gertjan wrote some books and so forth, spending time in British Columbia for a couple of years, all the while thinking at some point to return to teaching for a while.  Unfortunately teaching jobs disappeared along with lots of other jobs in Alberta and investments soured.

Gertjan drifted into energy sales; since he has always been adept at that since he was a cub scout.  Sales is also something that is in his blood.  Within four months he became one of the company’s top sales agents, winning an all expense paid trip for 10 days; eight of which were spent at the largest five star hotel on the beach at Cabos san Lucas, Mexico.  The Riu Palace.

Eventually Gertjan specialized in commercial energy sales and closed huge corporations on gas and power contracts.  By 2008 he left that business enterprise because the provincial government changed the rules and his business dried up over night.

Gertjan drifted into automotive sales, since there was a dealership near where he lived.  He was hired and on his first day he sold two new cars becoming one of the top sales agents right away.

He left the dealership in Edmonton and joined his son in Red Deer.  He continued with automotive sales for another two years there until he was dismissed for being too politically incorrect; whatever that means.

Many attempts have been made since then to find gainful employment in education but there are no jobs, especially not for someone with my level of experience and degrees.  So, for the years following the end of car sales Gertjan has had to live off his wits, pretty much.

Gertjan is the author of 9 published works; six novels available world wide; one of which is the largest ever published by a house with more than 62,000 authors on contract and now appearing to be out of business.  He has also penned a training program for automotive sales agents, a history and philosophy of law, and a semi regular publication; DtRH hosted on several news sites on the internet.

Gertjan is a regular on international radio programs.

Gertjan is the composer of 23 Cds of Classical Cross Over Music and one jazz album


Gertjan’s Skills Set