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Wednesday, 27 September 2017 16:29

Old buildings’ histories can be utilized

Written by  Joey Donnelly
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When I was sixteen-years old, my Aunt Patricia bought St. Patrick's Church in Herbert for a prairie song. The old building was built in 1912 by Father Cabanel, on the same year when Swift Current's Lyric Theatre opened its doors.


St. Patrick's parish had left in the eighties and my aunt couldn't bear to see the well-built building with its green steeple, pews, pump organ, Parisian altar and precious memories whither to the wind.
We even went on an adventure to collect the missing bishop's chair and met a slightly stunned yet gracious bishop in Gravelbourg.
Back in the summer of ‘96, Aunt Pat opened my eyes to vernacular architecture and the need for action to protect and develop built heritage. She returns each summer from Montreal to hold The Steeplejack Festival to present a variety of entertainment in Herbert.Aunt Pat inspired me to pursue the Lyric project nine years later when Swift Current and the region rallied behind restoring one of the few reminding Vaudeville theatres in Canada.
The Lyric survived like a scrappy street fighter or pop icon, dodging the wrecking ball while adapting to cultural trends. Upon its grand opening in 1912, a reporter proclaimed that the Lyric “will undoubtedly be one of the finest and most compact theatres between Winnipeg and Calgary.”
Taking a look west, Calgary's Grand Theatre was built in 1912 by Sir James Alexander Lougheed to become Western Canada's largest opera house and a centre of civic life, housing the city's first artistic companies.
In 2005, a local theatre company, Theatre Junction Society, raised $12 million to save the Grand from demolition. Once again, the theatre draws international performing artists and is home to theatre, dance, music, film presentations and performances.
Another unique theatre is found in the tiny hamlet of Rosebud, Alberta. Tucked in the hills 100 km northeast of Calgary, the Group of Seven artists A.Y. Jackson and H.G. Clyde spent the summer of ‘44 painting in the area.
Rosebud Theatre is Alberta's only rural professional theatre staged at the Opera House. The acting company is composed of resident ensemble members, students apprentices and guest artists. The Rosebud School of the Arts is housed at the local heritage hotel.
A cherished theatre or building lives well beyond its physical structure and into our dreams, stories and traditions.
My dear family friend, Selma Siemens, tells the tale of when my grandfather took the country children from Donnellyville School to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at the Lyric in 1937.
We are so fortunate and blessed to have The Lyric Theatre, a home for creativity, expression and the performing arts on Treaty 4 territory.
To grow, let's look to our neighbours for inspiration, and at the same time, place a candle in the window for those in need of shelter.
The Southwest Youth Emergency Shelter (SW Yes) is being forced to shut its doors for lack of government funding and priority. While not as flashy as a theatre, Dorie's House serves a unique purpose helping youth in temporary need of shelter with a stay of up to three months.
To quote Winston Churchill, “Then what are we fighting for?” if we don’t support the arts, education, libraries and vulnerable youth.
A Rally for Dorie's House will be held on Tuesday, October 3 at 4 p.m. in front of Premier Brad Wall's office, 233 Central Avenue in Swift Current.
Upcoming Lyric events: Weddings and Wine-Sep. 29, Blenders presents Lisa LeBlanc with Les Deluxes-Sep. 30, Youth Talent Night-Oct. 6, Open Stage hosted by Paula McGuigan-Oct. 12 (second Thursday of every month).
Corks and Canvas-Oct. 16, Write Out Loud with Bill Waiser-Oct. 18, SCIT-Oct. 20, Blenders presents Lanikai, Jacqueline Hudec and Rob Hudec-Oct. 21, Unforgettable Grad Gala-Oct. 22.
Joseph Donnelly is a journalist, folklorist and Lyric board member.

Read 1401 times Last modified on Thursday, 28 September 2017 06:38