From 1880 to 2004, the highlight of every summer was our country fair - the Cantley Picnic. Organized entirely by volunteers, it attracted hundreds of people from as far away as Ottawa. They came for the games … contests … delicious food … famous homemade pies … live music … dancing … but mostly to have fun with friends and neighbours!
Since 2016, Cantley 1889 has been working with Theatre Wakefield to discover why this fair was so important to the community of Cantley. By interviewing Cantley’s elders, we learned about life in earlier times, colourful Cantley characters and details about the Cantley Picnic which made it so fun.
On Saturday, July 22nd these characters will come to life at the resurrected Cantley Picnic in Ian Tamblyn’s latest musical play, “A Summer… A Fair”. Theatre Wakefield’s professional cast will perform stories and songs that are always amusing, often hilarious and sometimes poignant as they recreate Cantley’s history.
The Cantley Premiere will be extra special, capturing the spirit of the Cantley fair. It will take place at the century-old site of the Cantley Picnic – St. Elizabeth’s Parish Grounds (inside the Parish Hall if it rains) AND … this performance will be immediately followed by square-dancing with a live band and caller!
Ian Tamblyn’s other musical plays, “A Bridge to the Past” (2015) and “A River Runs Through Us” (2016), previously delighted enthusiastic audiences around the Outaouais. After July 22, “A Summer… A Fair” will tour at least a dozen other communities around the region.
Don’t miss this first musical play about Cantley! Bring your own picnic anytime before the 1 pm performance. Enjoy old-fashioned refreshments provided by the Cantley Lions Club. Bring lawn chairs and sunscreen. Free admission (donations welcome). It’s the perfect occasion to have fun with friends and neighbours!
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With the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage, Theatre Wakefield’s longer-term goal for this project is to work with communities to share theatre, music, dance, film, or visual arts from many sources in a regional touring network.
For the special Premiere performance on July 22nd, Cantley 1889 volunteers baked 45 home-made pies to help capture the spirit of the original Cantley Picnics. The afternoon was a huge success. This was acknowledged officially by a letter from Cantley’s mayor and by a Cantley Municipal Council Resolution (20170MC-R382) congratulating Cantley 1889 and Theatre Wakefield for a wonderful afternoon “promoting Cantley’s heritage within the community and the MRC region”.
Cantley 1889 volunteers made pies once again on September 9th for Cantley’s final performance at the “Cantley en fête”. One character in the play, Maurice Gauthier, attended both the July and September performances. After the last performance he was presented with a birthday cake by Theatre Wakefield to celebrate his 93rd birthday!
Thank you to Theatre Wakefield and Ian Tamblyn for inviting Cantley 1889 to be part of this amazing project. Since autumn 2016, Cantley 1889 volunteers have been researching the events and people in the play as part of the “Spread the Word” heritage animation project.
“A Summer…A Fair” brought Cantley’s history to life, entertaining audiences with wonderful scenes, music and songs, laughter and also more serious moments. The play brought back many memories for Cantley audiences…and made special 2017 memories for Cantley!