November 2020 Newsletter

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Message from Laurie Harley, President, Shaw Guild, and Alan Walker, Vice President, Shaw Guild

Fundraising and the Shaw Guild   by Peter Gill 

This article is aimed at being a history of the Guild’s fundraising activities for the Shaw Festival. 

I discovered and decided to include some other fundraisers from earlier volunteer years.

Shaw Festival History

Research by Kim Mustill.


In 1980, a new era began under Artistic Director Christopher Newton’s leadership. The company grew steadily and built a solid reputation for its exceptional ensemble acting and innovative theatrical designs. 

British-born, Christopher Newton had done graduate work in English Literature in the U.S., and then had begun an acting career with the Canadian Players and, briefly, with the Shaw Festival (1964).

In 1968 he became founding artistic director of Theatre Calgary, before his 1973 appointment as artistic director of the Vancouver Playhouse. [Of note, Newton changed and expanded the season to include 10-12 productions, a musical in the Royal George and the Lunchtime one-act plays.]

REMINDER: Shaw Guild AGM – Monday, November 23 at 10am

Hope to see you there!

Here’s the link to join by Zoom.


Here’s the link to the AGM Report which includes summaries of 2020 Guild activities and Financials.

Do You Have Any IDEA??

Test your knowledge on Niagara’s diverse history.

Where are these plaques? What historical events do they represent?

The answers appear on the IDEA password-protected page accessed via The password was sent in the email notice for this newsletter.

Bea Campbell: About the Adopted Christmas Family!

Hello Friends!

We have been given the details of the family we have adopted this Christmas!  We are providing Christmas for a family of five!  A single parent with four kids, ages 5-13.

Due to Covid19 I will only be permitted to purchase gift cards, no actual items, which takes away some of the fun for me (it's the only time I didn't loathe shopping) but does not diminish the JOY that your generosity will be providing for this family this Christmas.  And, in some ways, it means the parent will be able to make sure the kids get exactly what they want, or close to it!


The Shaw Festival Brings Holiday Music to NOTL with Songs for aWinter’s Night

Running December 5 through December 19 in the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre, Songs for a Winter’s Night features favourite melodies from the holiday season. During each performance, up to 50 socially-distanced guests wearing masks will be immersed in the holiday magic of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Directed and choreographed by Associate Artistic Director Kimberley Rampersad, with music direction by Paul Sportelli, Songs for a Winter’s Night includes holiday favourites such as White Christmas, The Prayer and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The concert features the talents of Festival ensemble members Kyle Blair, Andrew Broderick, James Daly, Kristi Frank, Élodie Gillett, Alexis Gordon, Olivia Sinclair Brisbane, Jonathan Tan and Associate Music Director Ryan deSouza.

Audience members attending performances of Songs for a Winter’s Night are invited to share their holiday memories with The Shaw. Patrons’ stories of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and all other seasonal celebrations will be woven into the holiday concerts. Festive recollections can be emailed to

Additional concerts featuring the music of Duke Ellington, Dorothy Fields and Cole Porter have been added to the schedule from November 25 through December 4. Tickets are general seating and can be reserved by calling the Shaw Festival’s box office at 1- 800-511-SHAW (7429). Tickets for the concert series will not be available online.

Two Great Events Planned for 2021!

Tickets for both will be on sale (online only) in January. Watch for the email notice then!

Shaw Guild Garden Tour: June 12         Sip, Savour & Stroll: August 28

Tonie (in pink, posing with the Garden Tour 2019 team above)) has been a strong supporter of both the Shaw Festival, and the Guild, being its platinum sponsor of the annual Garden Tour for a number of years. In this, she was also kindness personified in working with various Garden Tour Convenors, myself included, over the years.

Tonie's continued commitment to community has gone much further, for example supporting Rotary's Holiday House Tour and several other major events for many years.

Tonie deserves our gratitude, not only as Shaw Guild members, but also as residents of NOTL. We wish her well, with success and happiness in her new adventures.  

Alan Walker

By way of background, I joined the Guild in 2013, as a Host, and subsequently also became a Hosting Captain, then Chair of Fundraising and Garden Tour Convenor, and finally Vice President for the past 2 years. These roles allowed me to meet with many of you; calling to ask you to host shows, getting to know you when you volunteered on the two Garden Tours when I was the Convenor, and at our various Guild events.  

The work has also allowed me the great pleasure of directly meeting and interacting with patrons, and this year I have sorely missed that aspect of the work we do. We are all linked by our passion for theatre, in general, and the Shaw Festival in particular. Once our season begins, I plan on resuming my Host duties, assuming Greg Fedoryn will allow me back on his Team.

My wife, Diane, also a Guild member, is a Host and Hosting Captain. We are both originally from the UK and have called Canada home since 1978. The Shaw Festival has been an important part of our lives since, and was one of the prime reasons we moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake in 2012, which then led us to join the Guild.

I had enjoyed a varied and rewarding professional career, in Management Consulting with Bell Canada, with IBM in Canada and the US, and with IDC, a world leader in market intelligence for the IT industry. I also held a variety of senior management jobs in Public and Private Law organizations and, with 2 partners, owned a boutique consulting firm focused on the Legal market.  My work took me to most Canadian provinces and a number of US States, the UK and Asia.

When Di and I moved to NOTL, on our next adventure, having both rested from our respective labours, we took advice from new friends on where we might now focus our energies. We were advised to take things easy, to take some time to figure out where would want to spend our time in volunteering. In the same breath, those self-same people, who to this day remain fast friends, also said, “but you must begin by joining the Guild”. To them in particular, this is my heartfelt gratitude for great advice.  

You were wonderfully generous! So much so, that I will be able to get everything on their wish list, AND buy many $25 gift cards for the individual toy drive!!! 

Every year over 3,000 families, from St. Catharines and Thorold, apply for help at Christmas.  Only 100 are adopted in full.  The rest are able to access smaller assistance programs that Community Care makes available, like the toy room.  In the past this was a room full of toys that they could choose from, but this year it will be a gift card for $25 that the adult can use to buy their child a toy.

So that you have an idea of what your money will provide, here is our family's wish list...

  • Parent:  Food Basics Gift Card
  • Girl (5): Learning Style Books / Interactive Toys / Crafts ... Gift Cards for Pen Ctr, Toys R Us, Dollarama
  • Boy (9):  Games for XBox / Race Car Set ... Gift Cards for E.B. Games, Toys R Us, Dollarama
  • Girl (12):  Make Up / Clothing ... Gift Cards for Pen Ctr, Dollarama
  • Boy (13): Games for Nintendo Switch / Sports Equipment ... Gift Cards for E.B. Games, Canadian Tire, Dollarama

When you think of this family, know that you made it possible for this family to have a beautiful Christmas day.

I am so grateful for your generosity.  This is a beautiful community, and I am blessed to be amongst you, if only in spirit these days.

If you made a pledge that you still want to fulfil, it's not too late. Please etransfer to

Thanks to Tonie Mori!

As you are likely aware, Tonie Mori recently announced she will be closing her business, Mori Gardens, by year's end, as it is time to move on to the next new adventures in her life.

I feel privileged to have become the latest President of the Shaw Guild, and I am extremely fortunate to be able to have access to Laurie’s wise counsel as she now moves into the role of immediate Past President.

I have big shoes to fill, but in this, I know that I have the support of an extremely talented and experienced Executive Committee. I also realize that we have always been able to call on you, our dedicated membership in the service of Shaw and its patrons and the Guild.

Greetings from Alan Walker

Here’s what was playing in 1980:

By 1981 the season had expanded to over five months, operating in three theatres.

Excerpted with permission from Shaw Festival - The First Fifty Years by L.W. Conolly.

Tap Dancing for Beginners – Make Music with Your Feet!

Shaw Company Member, Allison Plamondon, is starting a weekly drop-in beginner Tap class via Zoom on Wednesdays at 1pm EST, until the end of the year.

Each class is $12. Please send your payment via paypal/venmo/e-transfer to

Although the volunteers, at the very beginning, were woman, later in the decade this was changing. Our precursor, the Friends of the Shaw Festival, had an executive and even a Toronto branch with men, as part of the organizational structure. This group continued for many years.

In the early 70’s, as a fund-raising initiative for the new proposed Festival Theatre, volunteers stood in front of the Court House, in their long dresses, and sold tickets–for a cedar shingle on the roof of the planned Festival Theatre.

During my research, I was told that in our early days the Guild used to hold dances for members and friends. To raise funds, they would raffle off chances to “dance with some hot actors” which was apparently always a great success.

Moving forward in time, there was The Shaw Show of Artists and Artisans.  First called the Shaw Arts & Crafts Show, it was started by long time Guild members, Lil & Bob Aylesworth as convenors for three years, 1994-6. It took place on the grounds of St. Marks Anglican Church. As it expanded, at first under Lil, Bob and Mary Lou Gilchrist in 1997, and then Mary Lou alone as chair in 1998. She was followed by Mickey Cameron for one year and then Gilles Dussault for two years. As the event expanded it first moved to Parliament Oaks school grounds. Then, under Jack & Sally Harmer’s leadership for three years 2002-04, it became a Juried Art show & Auction, expanding again onto the Commons near the Festival Theatre. The event now included live music, wine & beer and some great art.   Although the event raised a significant amount of money over the years, grossing well over $ 20,000 annually, it was discontinued in 2005, as no volunteer could be found to take on the exceptionally large task of chairing this major event.

From 2000 – 2005, the Guild, besides running their own fundraising activities, assisted the Company with its annual Fair & Fete fundraiser, with many Guild volunteers helping across a range of activities. We helped staff the refreshment tent, the silent auction area, the raffle and the always popular & profitable Tea Leaf readings by Guild member Maureen Dalgleish.

One of the on-going fundraising ideas the Company had was the creation of a cookbook with recipes from various actors and staff. One was a series of salad dressings created by our own Paddy Parr, at that time Director of Operations at the Shaw, as well as a Guild member.  I have heard that the Guild also created and sold a cookbook as a fundraiser, but as of this writing cannot find any details.  If anyone reading this has a copy, or can provide details, please let the Guild know at to add to our own history.

In 2005 the Conservancy volunteers decided to drop their annual Garden Tour and the Shaw Festival, under Jane Dagg of Development stepped into the breach, as there had always been two garden tours a year in Niagara on the Lake. In year one, the Guild provided major assistance and took it over the next year.  The Guild created a Fundraising Chair position on the Executive Committee in 2006, which was occupied by yours truly, Peter Gill, for four years. I led the organization of the Shaw Guild Garden Tour team as well as another dedicated team to create an annual Fall fundraising event. These included a very successful $18,000+ Fine Art and Rare Wine Auction & Champagne Reception, with great items and a professional auctioneer from Toronto. Two Halloween Dinner Galas with silent auctions and live music followed, and then a Giant Raffle with major prizes of a Caribbean cruise, diamond watch and season’s tickets to the Shaw Festival, as well as several smaller prizes. The Raffle and the Garden Tour that year combined for a donation of $35,000 plus Federal matching funds to the Guild Endowment Fund, as well as $6,500 to New Play Development.

With the increasing size and complexity of the Garden Tour since the 2009 season, having raised annually around $25,000, a change was made. As this equalled, or came fairly close to equalling, the funds raised in the earlier years, it was decided that the fundraising focus would remain on the Garden Tour for the time being, with the bulk of the funds going to the newly created Guild Endowment fund to leverage Federal Grant matching monies. The endowment donations stopped in 2017 or 18 due to a change in focus. Funds then went to support the newly created Holiday Play instead. This has continued to be the case to the present day, although Covid-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 Tour. Planning is underway to run a successful 2021 Garden Tour with the team headed by Convenor Jane Catcher, with assistance from Suzanne Hebert who led the 2020 organizing team.

Another 2012 Guild initiative, although not designed as a fundraiser, was the International Cavort Conference, chaired that year by Charmian Entine, a bi-annual conference of volunteer theatre groups from the United States and now Canada. After donations were made to the subsequent Cavort conference, over $2,500 was left to assist with that year’s Guild donations to the Festival.

Over the last 10 years or so, the Guild has raised separate funds of around $1,500 a year to support the Shaw Cricket team in purchasing cricket equipment and other items.  In 2020, the Stratford and Shaw actors instead held a charity match, strongly supported by the Guild, to raise funds for the Actors Fund of Canada. This raised over $3,500.

Looking into the future, there are plans, or at least thoughts about other fundraising initiatives for creative Guild members that could provide fun for members, and funding for the Shaw Festival. To that end, the Guild Executive has recreated the Fundraising Chair position, presently held by Alan Walker.

If any Guild member knows of a fundraising initiative that I have missed, whether recent or in the distant past, please feel free to provide the details to Cheryl Morris or Alan Walker at It can then  be incorporated into this history for our future members  interest.

No project like this history of 50-year fundraising is a one-person project, relying as it must on the memory and assistance of a variety of people.

In particular I want to thank the following for their information and support:

  • Nancy Butler, for details of the Cookbook Project.
  • Jane Dagg for details of the beginnings of the Shaw Guild Garden Tour.
  • Sally Harmer for information regarding the Arts & Artisans 10 year run.
  • Nancy Mouget for sharing her thoughts on past Guild fundraising initiatives.
  • Alan Walker for his assistance regarding the direction the Guild might take in future fundraising, and of course
  • The great history of the Guild by Faye Goodwin and Nancy Butler, from which I stole liberally and is strongly recommended reading. It can be found at the Shaw Guild website, under Contact Us and then About The Guild.  


Happy Fundraising! 

The Festival had only a matter of weeks to get ready for its first show in the Royal George Theatre, a selection of music and lyrics by Irving Berlin under the title of Puttin’ on the Ritz. There was no time (or money) for major renovations, so seating was limited to the main floor, where about 240 patrons were squeezed in.


In the absence of an orchestra pit, music was provided by a single piano, increased to two, one on each side of the stage, for The Desert Song in 1982 and subsequent musicals. Renovations had to wait, but they occurred at regular intervals during the 1980s, as funds were raised.



Before there was the Guild, since the beginning in 1962, there were always volunteers raising money to support the Shaw Festival. In the early years they made and sold food & iced tea to patrons to have during the performances. One extremely hot season it was suggested they made more money selling cold drinks than theatre tickets.

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