Too Soon the Curtain Fell
Mum had torn the November sheet from the calendar and now December was really here. This meant Christmas was coming and with it brought the daily practising for the school concert.
The play, “Santa Forgot To Set His Alarm Clock” was
going to be our masterpiece. Our stage was the space between the wood
stove and the blackboard. The curtains were an assortment of bed sheets
that the students brought from home and fastened with safety pins to a
wire that had been
strung from wall to wall.
By the way, back in 1789 the long room in Mallard’s Tavern in Saint John was transformed into a theatre for the first dramatic performance in New Brunswick. The cast of amateurs demonstrated the desire of the colonists, most of them having arrived here in 1783, for a cultural life of the kind they had left behind in New England. Circumstances may have dictated that these settlers carve out homes and businesses for themselves from a wilderness but they also wanted to promote whatever they could to enrich their labour-filled lives. Even Colonel Edward Winslow journeyed from his home at Kingsclear by horse and sleigh to be present. Two of the actors in the 1789 season were Jonathan and Stephen Sewell, sons of Jonathan Sewell, formerly attorney-general of Massachusetts.
The evening of February 3, 1809, saw the opening of the Drury Lane Theatre, the first building in Saint John to be used solely as a theatre. The story of its erection is one of a spirit of adventure, persistence and co-operation between gentleman of the garrison at Fort Howe and the city.
In 1829 some folk in our city did not take well to the theatre and a volley of protests from the press and pulpit which reached even to the Mayor’s office and to the Grand Jury.
By 1878, architects had completed drawings for a new opera house to be erected on the site of the old Dockrill Hall on Union Street. While the brick walls of the Opera House were rising in 1890, three other buildings were being refurbished as theatres.
Too Soon the Curtain Fell - A History of Theatre in Saint John (1789 - 1900) by Mary Elizabeth Smith, published in 1981, provides us with a glimpse into the type of entertainment our Saint John ancestors enjoyed. You can view this book at several research institutions.
The notes at the end of the book raise the curtain on many sources that will prove useful to the family researcher.
By the way, you will also find information on theatres, at the
Library and Archives of the New Brunswick Museum, Douglas Avenue, Saint
The book - Too
Soon the Curtain Fell - A History of Theatre in Saint John (1789 - 1900)
by Mary Elizabeth Smith is available from Ruby at email@example.com
Oates - Hall - Upton: I am seeking information on Thomas Oates, a British Home Child from Glasgow, Scotland. He worked in the Woodstock, New Brunswick area from 1928-1932. Employers were Mr. Hall and Mr. Upton. Migration agency was the Cossar Farm, Lower Gagetown. Thomas was aged 15 years on arrival and 19 on his departure to Scotland in1932.
-Linda Oates, 23 Twenty-second Ave., Brighton, Queensland, 4017, Australia. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Steen - Bowden: My great grandfather, William Henry Steen, was born in 1847 in English Canada. He emigrated to Maine in 1878. He was living in Corinth, Maine when he married Mary Evelyn Bowden, October 25, 1882. He and Mary had six children. He was a farmer in Maine and died October 23, 1901. I have not been able to find a death certificate for William Henry Steen in Maine. Does anyone have any record of his death in New Brunswick?
- Denise M. Savage, 529 Sugarbush Circle, Frederick, MD, 21703-6233, USA. E-mail to see below
Revised January 19, 2004 - Great grandfather William Henry Steen b: 1847 d: 1901. Immigrated to Maine 1878. Son of William Steen (died bef 1851) and Ellen Harvey from Ireland. Sources show Wm Henry Steen's birthplace as Stanley or Fredericton, New Brunswick; and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Ruby is a genealogy buff. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at email@example.com. When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.