Windsor's glory days take centre stage

Carole Morris-Underhill
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Published on December 12, 2012

Mrs. Stannus (Brenda Bailey) and Louisa Flambert (Katherine Meuse) wait at the train station for Arabella Stannus to arrive home from school.

Published on December 12, 2012

Farmer Walter Aylward (Troy Lang) sings alongside townsfolk about the glory of Windsor during the opening number.

Published on December 12, 2012

Mrs. Stannus (Brenda Bailey) and Louisa Flambert (Katherine Meuse) greet Arabella Stannus (Meggie McKay) at the train station. Arabella was happy to return to Nova Scotia after getting an education and was hoping to teach music.

Published on December 12, 2012

Daniel Winkworth (Mark Wainman) sings Oh, To Go To Sea while working at the Windsor Furniture Factory.

Published on December 12, 2012

Daniel Winkworth (Mark Wainman) performs Oh, To Go To Sea with his colleagues while working at the Windsor Furniture Factory.

Published on December 12, 2012

Daniel Winkworth (Mark Wainman) and Farmer Walter Aylward (Troy Lang) meet up for some hockey at Long Pond.

Published on December 12, 2012

Arabella Stannus and Daniel Winkworth (played by Meggie McKay and Mark Wainman) reconnect at Long Pond after not seeing each other since they were children. A romance soon blossomed.

Published on December 12, 2012

Arabella Stannus (Meggie McKay), with John McIntyre (Doug Murley) in tow, explains to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Ladies her plans to build an opera house.

Published on December 12, 2012

George Fletcher (Ian Shaw) sings I Come This Far inside Fletcher’s Saloon located in the Waterfront Warehouse. Also pictured is his friend, Charlie Croxen (played by Mike Paris).

Published on December 12, 2012

Louisa Flambert (Katherine Meuse), second from right, of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Ladies, gossips about townsfolk to her friends.

Published on December 12, 2012

Arabella Stannus (Meggie McKay) admits to her mother, Mrs. Stannus (Brenda Bailey), that she has strong feelings for Daniel Winkworth (Mark Wainman).

Published on December 12, 2012

The romance between Arabella Stannus (Meggie McKay) and Daniel Winkworth (Mark Wainman) heats up two months after they were reunited at Long Pond.

Published on December 12, 2012

Louisa Flambert (Katherine Meuse), middle, and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Ladies, gossip about Arabella Stannus (Meggie McKay) leaving the Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee festivities with John McIntyre (Doug Murley). Her boyfriend, Daniel Winkworth (Mark Wainman), was confused and saddened by the news.

Published on December 12, 2012

Bicyclist Clifford Shand (played by Robert Wainman) won the Great Bike Race, held in May in celebration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

Published on December 12, 2012

Farmer Walter Aylward (Troy Lang) tries to convince his friend, Daniel Winkworth (Mark Wainman), that there must have been a misunderstanding between him and Arabella.

Published on December 12, 2012

George Fletcher (Ian Shaw) worked several jobs in order to see his dream of opening a saloon/barber shop/restaurant. Pictured here is Fletcher and Mrs. Stannus (Brenda Bailey), a supporter of Windsor’s first independent black businessman.

Published on December 12, 2012

Louisa Flambert (Katherine Meuse) warns George Fletcher (Ian Shaw) she could have his job if he doesn’t close down his saloon. Flambert, a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Ladies, was adamantly opposed to the consumption of alcohol. Also pictured is Mrs. Stannus (Brenda Bailey).

Published on December 12, 2012

George Fletcher, Windsor’s first independent black businessman, (played by Ian Shaw) had about enough of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Ladies accusing him of selling demon run at his establishment.  Pictured from the union were, from left, Mrs. Akins (Lorna Houck), Mrs. McCallum (Terri Bowlby-Chiasson), and gossip Louisa Flambert (Katherine Meuse).

Published on December 12, 2012

Farmer Walter Aylward (Troy Lang) sings the humourous song, The World’s Greatest Pig, while attending the Windsor Fair with his children, Margaritte, Annie, Addie, and Luranna (played by Mariasha Mendel, Josie Jordan, Rachel Horner and Jamie Horne).

Published on December 12, 2012

Little Howie (Grace Greer) shows Arabella Stannus (Meggie McKay) and her friends, Sarah (Lydia Houck) and Emma (Allison Lord), the gigantic pumpkin he grew for the Windsor Fair.

Published on December 12, 2012

George Fletcher (Ian Shaw) tries to break up a fight in his saloon. Pictured are, from left, Jack Coon (Robert Lee), Fletcher, Blenkhorn (Mike Meuse) and Mike Terry (Alan Tupper).

Published on December 12, 2012

Quick As A Wink Theatre’s production of Glory Days: The True Story of the Great Windsor Fire of 1897 transported audience members to a time when Windsor was thriving. The musical covered the entire year, ending with the townspeople feeling hopeful and determined to rebuild after the unthinkable happened. Pictured is Meggie McKay, of Falmouth, portraying Arabella Stannus, as she struggles to come to terms with the fire.

Published on December 12, 2012

Louisa Flambert (Katherine Meuse), is comforted by Daniel Winkworth (Mark Wainman) and Arabella Stannus (Meggie McKay) after learning a conman had nearly duped her into marrying him.

Published on December 12, 2012

The townspeople of Windsor vowed to rebuild after the Great Windsor Fire of 1897 — with the downtown being constructed with brick and stone.

Published on December 12, 2012

Conman John McIntyre (played by Doug Murley) finally got caught after setting the fire that ultimately razed the Town of Windsor in 1897. Also pictured is Constable Sam MacDonald, played by Andrew Harvie.

Published on December 12, 2012

NDP cabinet minister Sterling Belliveau and his wife Luella Jean attended the opening night of Glory Days: The True Story of the Great Windsor Fire of 1897. Their daughter, Ginger LeBoutillier, played the piano in the pit band.

Published on December 12, 2012

Roger Taylor, left, and Michelle Herx collaborated to create the historical musical Glory Days: The True Story of the Great Windsor Fire of 1897. Pictured with the creative pair is George Elliott Clarke, a famed poet, playwright and critic who was the special guest Nov. 30 for the opening night performance.

Published on December 12, 2012

Roger Taylor, far left, and Michelle Herx, second from right, collaborated to create the historical musical Glory Days: The True Story of the Great Windsor Fire of 1897. Pictured with the creative pair is George Elliott Clarke, a famed poet, playwright and critic who was the special guest Nov. 30 for the opening night performance, second from left, and Clarke’s cousin, Percy Paris, the minister responsible for economic and rural development and tourism.

Quick As A Wink entertains, educates audience with musical

Audience members attending Glory Days: The True Story of the Great Windsor Fire of 1897 were treated to a musical that not only offered romance and mystery, but highlighted the town's rich history.

Quick As A Wink Theatre hosted the performance Nov. 30, Dec. 1-2 and Dec. 7-8.

Famed poet George Elliott Clarke, originally of Three Mile Plains, attended opening night. The recently named poet laureate for Toronto provided a few readings of his work before settling in to watch the performance. He felt it was a story that everyone should hear.

“I think it helps everyone to appreciate the history we have in common,” said Clarke in an interview following the show. “And that's really important, because we often lose that, we often miss that. We're told about all the things that we don't share, we're told about all the things that keep us separate, so it's wonderful to have a story... that helps us to understand what we have in common, understand differences but then also understand the ways in which they can be overcome for the greater good.”

Clarke said the show was 'splendid' to watch, noting he could tell the cast members gave 110 per cent to the roles.

Nearly 100 people came together to put on the performance, including 45 actors. The eight lead actors were Meggie McKay, Mark Wainman, Katherine Meuse, Doug Murley, Brenda Bailey, Troy Lang, Ian Shaw and Dennis Herx,

The musical revolves around the blossoming romance of a music teacher and a ship's carver during 1897. Meanwhile, the true story of George Fletcher, the town's first independent black businessman, and the arson that left Windsor in ashes is told. Fletcher, who was accused of starting the fire, was ultimately acquitted of the arson and a travelling conman was found guilty. Although the town, once the centre of prosperity for the province, was left in ruins, the play ends with the townspeople coming together to rebuild Windsor.

“It's a wonderful show and I really love the way that Michelle Herx has told the story and woven together so many different elements of Windsor's specificity,” said Clarke.

The script and lyrics were written by Herx, who spent a considerable amount of time researching the area’s history. Windsor's Roger Taylor provided the music and orchestration. The project began about a decade ago, with the first full show being held in 2004. It was held once more, in 2005, before being brought back to life this year for the 10th anniversary of Quick As A Wink Theatre.

Clarke, prior to being contacted by Herx, was unaware of the rich historical details surrounding the Great Windsor Fire of 1897. He said it’s a story that people could learn a lot from.

“I think the real lesson of Glory Days should be that the best is still to come if we are willing to understand and respect and build upon the past. You can't leave that out,” said Clarke. “You can't get to the future unless you have a base in the past. And that's not to say that you're stuck there, but it is to say that you understand what your heritage is, which is a treasure even with struggle. Even with strife, it's a treasure.”

 

Organizations: Quick As A Wink Theatre, Women’s Christian Temperance Union Ladies

Geographic location: Windsor, Toronto, Windsor, N.S. Hants County Nova Scotia King's-Edgehill School Fountain Performing Arts Centre Canada

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