The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

August 9, 2006

August 9, 2006 – Drama & Choral Clubs

The Springhill Drama Company was organized in 1889 with Henry McKnight as the Manager. R.W. McDonald was the Assistant Manager and B.B. McNutt was the organist. The players were: Carl Cooper, Jules Choisnet, Charles Brown, Charles McNutt, Mary A. Robbins, Margaret McKenzie, Jennie Lambert and Queen McNutt. They played, not only in Springhill, but also, Parrsboro, Joggins and Pugwash.

On Wednesday 17, 1926 the Springhill Choral Club gave their first concert at the Opera House. It was under the direction of A.J. Mason. The Springhill Choral Club was a group of about 70 vocalists. Some of these vocalists were: Emma Ward, Gladys McPherson, Emma McKinnon, Olwyn Jones, Mrs. C.R. Murray, Winnie Nelson, Annis Jones, Charles Merlin, Frank Gillis, George Hayden, Harry Moore, Bud Ritchie, H. Bryan, Hall Brown and Clara (Graham) Ritchie. One of the programs that the Springhill Choral Club performed was H.M.S. Pinafore.

Gladys McPherson went on to teach piano and for awhile taught music in the schools in Springhill.

Clara (Graham) Ritchie became organist at the Wesley Church in 1938 when Mrs. R. W. Wright retired. Clara, while still young, was afflicted with a severe disease of the skin which was both disfiguring and incurable. She kept out of circulation for a time but had the courage to get back out there. In the 1940’s she started teaching music in the Springhill High School and later on in the elementary schools. She was responsible for some of the best male quartets to become popular not only in Springhill but in other places as well. One of these quartets was the “Major Chords” who performed together for many years. The quartet consisted of Gerald Osmond, Alton Hollis, Floyd Smith and Ralph Hayden. Clara would always play the “March Militaire” for the graduation exercises that were held in the Capital Theatre. Mrs. Ritchie taught music in the schools for over 20 years and retired in 1965.

In the 1930’s the Anglican Young People’s Association started putting on plays to raise funds for their church. Some of the players were: George Hatton, Ed Nicholson, Arthur Hopkins, Bill Fear, George Harrison, Dorothy Nicholson, Maude Gillis, Gertrude Cox, Evelyn Brown, Rena Ridgeway, Aileen Strong, Margaret Furlong, Sel Betts, James Shenton, Daisy Lees, Annis Jones, Olive Murray, Muriel Jewkes, Grace Moore, Joe Lees, Harold Raper, Alfred Robinson, Alwyn Wiles, Jessie Osmond, Connie Murray, Mabel Newman, Gladys Johnson, Harry Moore, Jessie Newman and Elizabeth Warren.

From 1955 until 1973 The “Teen-Agers” were very popular in Springhill and area. It was a teen girls’ chorus from Springhill High School who were directed and accompanied by Miss Lillian Matthews. They had many appearances on the CKCW Moncton TV Program “High Society” as well as other appearance around Springhill.

Some of the Teens included: Brenda Bigalow, Geraldine Hopkins, Doreen Leadbetter, Carole Beaton, Joan Crawford, Carolyn Morse, Carolyn Cummings, Jean Campbell, Donna Smith, Marjorie Munro, Judy Jackson, Shirley Brown, Juanita Harrison and Lauretta Sears. In later years it also included: Catherine Ross, Bonnie Hunter, Lynn Hunter, Helen Gilroy, Sandra Meekins, Anne Murray, Carol Graf, Evelyn Gilroy, Connie Rushton, Linda Crawford, Brenda Reynolds, Sharon Cameron, Mary McLeod, Karen Corkum, Sheila Dickson and Florence Evelyn Canning.

Also around 1959 there was a popular girls’ double duet which played for different functions such as the Home and School, Church and Fashion Shows. The double duet consisted of Anne Murray, Judy Jackson, Sharon Brown and Donna Smith.

For many years Variety Concerts were held in the Capital Theatre with the MC being Rud Osmond and singers like Lloyd Mason, Anne Murray and Geraldine Hopkins to name a few.

In the early days nearly every home had an organ and generally the families, on Sunday evenings, would gather around the organ and have a sing song.

Other forms of entertainment in the winter were ice skating in the rink or outside on the pond, sleigh rides and coasting on toboggans or sleds. There were quilting bees and hooking bees where the ladies would go to someone’s home and help them put in a quilt or hook a rug. The Firemen’s Carnival was held at the rink and everyone on the ice was dressed in costumes.

In the summertime there was swimming, fishing, box socials at the park, house raising bees where the men would help one another built their house or barns, etc and the women would supply the food and the children would have a great time playing with one another. There were also circuses which at first were held in Amherst but later came to Springhill and were held up by the All Saints Hospital and had rides, cotton candy and games of chance, etc. and were enjoyed by both young and old.