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The Academy at 125: A personal reflection

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Drama students from I.E. Weldon Secondary School bring 150 years of Canadian history to life on the Academy stage, May 20th 2017.

The Academy of Music. The Academy Theatre. The Academy Theatre for Performing Arts. The Grand Old Dame. The stately red-brick performance venue anchoring the southeast corner of Kent Street East and Lindsay Street has gone by a few names, both formal and informal, in the 125 years it has been gracing our community.

For most of us, though, it is simply “The Academy.”

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Citizen’s Relief Association raises money for Academy circa 1931

in Just in Time/Uncategorized by

A vintage advertisement about a benefit night for the Citizen’s Relief Association at the Academy Theatre, Dec. 15th 1931.

This benefit night made $205.93, and featured a variety of talent including Mary Crowley’s orchestra, Prof. Rupert Gliddon’s band, Al Perrin’s band, dancers, and comedians.

The Master of Ceremonies was Art Allin, and theatre manager “Hi” Meehan delighted the crowd with his imitation of the famous American “illustrated song” performer, Eddie Cantor.

Established in the autumn of 1931, the Citizens’ Relief Association was a joint venture between the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, and was designed “…to find work, homes, and food for those in want.”

Circumstances had become increasingly dire for many families since the onset of the Depression two years before.

To compound the problem, a steady stream of unemployed men were making their way through town by riding illegally on passing freight trains and lodging overnight in the police lockup.

Often, these “hobos,” or “transients,” would be offered a warm meal by private homeowners in exchange for some work: chopping firewood or cutting weeds, for instance.

Local museum aims to become ‘an agency of social change’ with poverty exhibit

in Around Town/Community/Just in Time/Poverty Reduction by
Local museum aims to become 'an agency of social change' with poverty exhibit
"For generations, ordinary people have joined forces in helping their neighbours."

Lindsay Advocate Publisher Roderick Benns sat down with Ian McKechnie, local historian and assistant manager of the Olde Gaol Museum, to talk about the museum’s plans for an innovative exhibit on the history and heritage of poverty in Lindsay and in the larger Kawartha Lakes. McKechnie is also The Advocate’s local history columnist.

Benns: Tell me a little about the idea for the museum to host an exhibit that has to do with poverty. What is the general idea?

McKechnie: For years, people have understood museums to be places where one goes to see “old stuff” sitting silently in glass showcases.  You come in, a guide shows you around, and you leave thinking to yourself, “I have an old stack of newspapers the museum might be interested in,” or, “I have an old upright piano that I’m sure the museum will want to have in its collection.”

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New wine for old wineskins: The changing role of your local museum

in Columnists/Community/Just in Time by
New wine for old wineskins: The changing role of your local museum
Where Duty Leads Commemorative Dinner.

Another calendar year has dawned and with it has come the inevitable litany of resolutions about doing things differently in 2018.  Old habits, as the saying goes, die hard.

We are partial to “the way things were,” and are slow to fill old wineskins with new wine, lest the old wineskins break and leave a mess in our comfortable world of old habits and supposedly unassailable practices. History, said Henry Ford (1863-1947), is bunk.

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A glimpse of Lindsay’s prosperous past

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This undated picture of the Scugog River offers one a glimpse into Lindsay’s prosperous past.

On the right, straddling the embankment between King Street and the Grand Trunk Railway’s river spur, is the large and active Allen & Hanburys Co. Ltd., a British-based manufacturer of pharmaceutical products, whose Canadian plant was built in Lindsay a century ago.

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‘What can I give them, poor as I am?’: Lindsay’s 1931 Citizens’ Relief Association

in Columnists/Community/Just in Time/Poverty Reduction by
From the Toronto Star archives, circa 1933, showing a woodpile behind the old Lindsay Town Hall, ready to be chopped up by transients in exchange for food.

On July 12 of this year, a number of local citizens gathered in the Academy Theatre for a screening of I, Daniel Blake.

The fourth installment in this year’s TIFF Films on the Scugog series, organized under the auspices of the Kawartha Art Gallery in collaboration with the Academy Theatre, I, Daniel Blake paints a poignant picture of poverty in contemporary Britain.

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St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

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St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

Built in 1886 and opened in 1887 for a parish dating to 1835, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church has long been a fixture in the community.

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They were called in from the glen: Remembering our Great War nursing sisters

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They were called in from the glen: Remembering our Great War nursing sisters

A stroll through Lindsay’s Riverside Cemetery is always a rewarding experience for the amateur historian, particularly when they happen upon the marker of a well-known local resident like Sir Sam Hughes (1853-1921), Canada’s controversial Minister of Militia and local Member of Parliament.

A few yards away lies the plot of the Hon. Leslie Frost (1895-1973), one-time Member of Provincial Parliament and Premier of Ontario. The Hughes monument is prominently placed on a hillock and is visible almost as soon as one enters the cemetery; Leslie Frost’s final resting place, meanwhile, is marked with a provincial heritage plaque.

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Lindsay’s forgotten artist: Rediscovering W.A. Goodwin

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Lindsay’s forgotten artist: Rediscovering W.A. Goodwin
Our Camp on Crab River, 1898, by W.A. Goodwin.

Autumn is perhaps my favourite season. The palette of hues which grace the Kawartha Lakes between September and mid-November have inspired both outdoor enthusiasts and artists for generations. One such artist was W.A. Goodwin, who, though a Lindsay resident for three quarters of a century, has largely faded into the mists of history.

Well, not entirely.

Lindsay’s forgotten artist: Rediscovering W.A. Goodwin
Columnist Ian McKechnie.

Motorists crossing at the intersection of Cambridge and Peel Streets are no doubt familiar with the badly-neglected frame building on the northwest corner. For years, this once-picturesque structure was home to “Wm. A. Goodwin Room Papers & Picture Frames” ‒ essentially, the ‘Scott’s Decorating Centre’ of its day.

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