HOK #134: Meet Rachel Eugster

Rachel’s posting for a photo while holding a picture frame over her head.
Rachel Eugster is a actor, a singer, a director, a theater producer, music director, choral conductor, voice teacher and so much more. Photo by Andrew Alexander Photography

I was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in Baltimore and Virginia. I went back to school in Baltimore for my master’s degree, met my husband there, went with him to Boston when he did his postdoc and ultimately started working. Then he was invited to a job here in Ottawa and we were at a point in his career where it was either an adventure or it was where we would settle, and the latter is what happened. We’ve been here quite a while now.

I was really struck when I moved to Hintonburg at how vibrant the mix of people is. There were people all around me of every age, from babies up to people in their 90s. There’s a wonderful energy that happens when a lot of people with different outlooks and different backgrounds are living in the same place. Hintonburg still has some fun little shops, a lot of local colour. You never know when you turn a corner who you’re going to bump into, and what interesting thing they might be involved in.

I do a lot of cooking. I have a sourdough starter that my stepmother began in the 1960s that I still keep going. I knit and I spin. I have two cats.

I consider myself a jack of all trades and a master of many. I’m an actor, a singer, a director, a theater producer, a music director, a choral conductor, a voice teacher, a playwright and a music arranger. As a singer I work with a classical guitarist in town named Andrew Mah. We have a duo called Purring Dragons. I conduct a choir of developmentally delayed adults called the Tamir Nashama choir. I’m a writer and an editor and a mentor critic for other people’s manuscripts. I’m multi-published in magazines, newspapers and children’s books. I edit fiction, non-fiction novels, plays, poetry, medical journal articles.

I’ve written six children’s books. One of them, The Pocket Mommy, is definitely something I’m very proud of, and my play, Whose Aemilia? So that’s the professional tree.

The volunteer tree involves Democrats Abroad. One of the organizations I am a manuscript mentor and critique for is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I also am the convener and co-lay leader of a group of people who meet in each other’s living rooms for Jewish holidays and services. I moderate the Baybreeze List, which is 200 of my closest neighbours centred on Bayswater and Breezehill. I do a tiny bit of volunteering for the Ottawa Valley of Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild. 

Connecting people and building community is definitely central to everything I do. I don’t necessarily know why I do it, but it might be part of what keeps me engaged. 

I think there aren’t many people who are active in so many spheres as I am and I am proud of that. I think it’s a model others should consider. You can think of it as an inability to make up my mind or you can think of it as an example of lateral thinking and being interested in many, many things. 

Story collected by Millie Farley

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