"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Wednesday 25 May 2016


Regency subdivision was built in two phases.The second after the Feds reduced interest on mortgages to stimulate the home building industry and ipso facto, the national economy. 

In the second phase. Sterling Drug was already up and running. The east a end  of Henderson Drive at Yonge Street ,was intended industrial development. The small building that houses Aurora Theatre was constructed but unloccupied. 

I was Mayor when the land and a farm changed hands and became the town house development ,
a shopping centre and Henderson Drive was opened to Yonge Street. 

Dodie Herskovitz didn't build anything. But she acquired several properties in Aurora and they were developed.no doubt to financial advantage. 

 The factory building and site were not part of the subdivision agreement. 

Taxes were owing. $5,000. was a figure I heard mentioned. 

Theatre  Aurora was a going concern .St. Andrew's College made their auditorium available for shows and  rehearsals. Sets  were built in individual  basements and put together on stage  the week of the performance. 

Labour was intensive but not more than the enthusiasm of the creators  and their audiences. 

Every play and  musical and Doyly Carte opera was well received by appreciative audiences. 

TIm and Jean Baker Pearce made their home available for every need but the cast parties at the end of the run were memorable occasions. Especially after a musical. 

TIm and Jean owned   a little frame house at the top of the hill on Temperance Street. They  added a great room.  HIgh ceiling, field stone fireplace to the roof and flagstone floor. The rafters rang  and floor trembled  in hearty rendition of every song and dance, like  they never  wanted to let the excitement fade. 

Actors  are like that when  deprived of opportunity. 

I never heard anyone give voice to a dream that they might one day have their own theatre.

 RIchmond Hill had the Curtain Club but the Aurora group never spoke of the possibility. 

Dodie  Herskovitz changed that. She gave the little factory to the town for use as a theatre along
with two hundred a fifty seats. 

Theatre props had been stored in the building awhile. She was aware of the need.

It was hard to imagine a theatre rising from the wreckage.Last use of the building was a factory for concrete forming.

The front fifteen feet was designed  for office space. The rest dropped into a well filled with broken forms and mis-shapen casts. Every window was broken. BIrds had taken over the space,swooping and diving like creatures from another place. Huddled  in a small space cleared for the purpose,Theatre Aurora's shabby little bundle of props.

There never was any argument about accepting the offer. Bud Rogers, the town's Clerk-administrator, lived in the town. HIs wife Judy was an accomplished singer and frequently performed. 

A Provincial Grant was available. To meet a timeline, plans had to be drawn up over a week-end.  

TIm Baker-Pearce,  Harry Shaw,  Barb McGowan's husband and brother and others put the plans together and by Monday morning an application was filed and $21,000 was granted in short order. 

 It wasn't much but everyone who had any skills and others who could just lift and lay ,the job was completed and a skeleton of a theatre came to be.

There was a stage, dressing rooms, lighting booth, chairs on a flat cement  floor,windows were re-glazed, washrooms with plywood doors installed. Norm Weller. the town's solitary parks keeper, always available wherever he was needed, landscaped the front of the building and cleaned up the sides .

There were no lights, stage curtains,sound system , no backdrops. no tiered theatre seating and the washrooms are still  freezing. 

The first play was Charlie's Aunt.  Excitement was high

The theatre has changed since. 

Auditorium space has shrunk in from the sides.Tiered comfortable seating is in place along  with all the accoutrements of theatre. Curtains, flys, lighting ,sound   all huge  financial investments. 

Every year, a  full season of theatre is provided.  

Plays are entered into competition. Awards of Excellence regularly earned. 

Children's Summer Theatre with opportunity for junior thespians is provided.

Real theatre has been created in every sense of the word. 

All funded from earnings from hundreds of thousands hours from generations of the unpaid, passionate Aurora  theatre crowd. 

Now the town wants to take it from them. 

A new lease is proposed that would return  to the days when they had to depend on limited time availability of St Andrew's College. 

For  ten years, Aurora Culture Centre  has enjoyed free use of a building that cost millions to renovate, for one dollar a year rent. All maintenance is provided by the town,plus  $400,000  of funding, rising 
each year.

For two years Petch  House  has sat empty with no use assigned. 

The Aurora Men's Soccer Club has a high visibility real estate parcel for $1 a year rent. THey compete with tax-paying  catering business in town .

A reques to lease a building for million dollar commercially operated sports organizations is being considered. 

Aurora Council has informed Theatre Aurora the facility they created, solely through their own labour,  is no longer theirs to meet the needs of full-time theatre operated completely by volunteers. They take from no-one, they contribute to the community 

They are the targets of a dastardly betrayal of trust. 


Anonymous said...

I don't even want to think what they have planned. Hopefully there will be some serious flak taken.

Anonymous said...

This mayor is a stranger to the concept of leadership.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, while Theatre Aurora still exists in its present mode, someone would write a play featuring a town council complete with CAO all embedded in an asylum.

As to whether this play takes the form of a drama or a musical, time will tell.

Or it could be both.

Anonymous said...

There are three "serious" articles in this week's The Auroran. They deal with Yonge Street parking proposal hits roadblock; residents demand action to curb speeders on Kennedy and Mavrinac; and town willing to "attempt mediation" over Highland Gate.

All three are ill-considered and lacking in intelligence.

The mayor has a pilot project in his febrile little mind to create a new on-street parking system for Yonge Street from Wellington to Kennedy Street. This hit a road block, as well it should have. Our esteemed mayor wants single lane traffic in each direction on Yonge Street in order to create a "people-friendly space for sidewalk cafes and other divertissements. Read the full article to get a better feel for the idiocy of this scheme.

Kennedy Street West has three significant speed humps west of George Street and these WORK. They have been in place for over 10 years. Every vehicle slows down crossing these. They make the little ant hills on Golf Links look like mini ant-hills. Install similar ones from Murray to Bathurst and speeding will come to a complete halt. I grew up in North Toronto and there was a street called Duplex Avenue that ran from Fairlawn to Eglinton. It was a speedway. There were about a dozen intersecting streets and to resolve the issue the city of Toronto made ALL the intersections STOP streets. That ended the speeding. Just a bunch of signs. The town has pissed away several hundreds of thousands of dollars on chicanes north-east of Yonge and Wellington that were so unpopular they had to be removed at another huge expenditure. Please read about this. It can be solved and the residents are right to be concerned.

So far as the town "willing to attempt mediation" over Highland Gate, this is a complete farce and a waste of time. Have members of council not the intelligence to realize that the town simply does not have the mental capability to mediate the removal and storage of snow. much less deal with a project with a nearly $100 million price tag?

I am getting sick and tired of having to read about more hair-brained schemes that council wishes to perpetrate upon our town's citizens. And what's the poop on Theatre Aurora?

Does anyone at town hall have the faintest glimmer of a brain?


Anonymous said...

20:11 It's a great idea. I would much prefer a drama. In the final act they could be let out of the asylum only to find an election has happened and they are all out on the street. Councillors can be seen asking the mayor what happened and he can be seen responding, "I don't know".

Anonymous said...

The Wizard of Aurora (Oz).
The final act shows no one behind the curtain; there never was!!!

Anonymous said...

No. He says that the bus won't go anywhere unless someone drives it.
And then he wanders off again.