Historic Theatre Chairs Coming Home!
Wells, BC July 24 2007 A chance meeting at the Billy Barker Days Parade yields return of 12 historic chairs. Carrie Johnston, a long time resident of Wells and theatre supporter just happened to be at the right place at the right time when chatting to two women after the parade on Saturday. Carrie was asked if she knew anyone interested in old theatre chairs in need of repair. Suspicious of the recent loss of the 30 Historic Theatre Chairs missing from the Sunset Theatre in Wells, Carrie listened intently as she quietly scanned the license plates. After inquiring how these two women came to have the chairs, it was soon discovered that some of the chairs were given to the Baker Creek Community Hall from the Lode Theatre and the Rex theatre of Quesnel over 30 years ago. These two good Samaritans, Sheila Gibbons, treasurer and Christein Leroux, President of the Hall were looking for a new home for the chairs.
This random act of kindness by complete strangers comes after the devastating discovery that 29 seat backs and 23 seats from the Sunset Theatre in Wells had gone missing from a storage place. Murry Krause, a Board Member for the Sunset Theatre Society and long time member of the Barkerville Heritage Trust, took the chairs to be recovered by willing volunteers as a surprise for owners Karen and David Jeffery. This good deed was thwarted when it was discovered that the storage place in Prince George had been cleaned out and the contents taken to a transfer station. The irreplaceable Chairs hold a great historic significance in the area. The Lode Theatre was built in 1942 and burnt down in 1972. The chairs had been removed prior to the theatre being turned into a machine storage shop.
The chairs being donated by the Baker Creek Community Hall is such tremendous news. “As the Sunset Theatre grows with recognition and reputation more and more people are coming from all over to see the plays and performances at the Sunset. This is good for all of us the artists who play here and for the community. Thinking that we were going to have to furnish the theatre with a third of the chairs missing was an unbearable thought.”
The Sunset Theatre, now in its second season of summer programming has been lovingly restored over the past 7 years by private individuals without government assistance. One of the largest and costly projects has been the on-going restoration of the historic theatre chairs, also given to the Sunset Theatre in the 1970’s by Harvey Bryant, former owner of the Lode Theatre. Each chair has been taken apart bolt by bolt and sandblasted ready for re-coating. Most of the inner legs and arms have been painted, and all of the Art-Deco ends have been re-powder coated and awaiting installation.
In an effort to escalate the re-installation of the chairs - A chair Campaign is being launched in an effort to get the chairs back into the theatre where they belong for generations to come. Persons interested in sponsoring a chair for $100 will receive a plaque on a chair. There are 8 chairs in the Loge Box or Balcony area that are reserved for special guests, these chairs can be sponsored for $250 each.
The heart of the Cariboo is certainly alive and well and gracing its presence on this tiny theatre in Wells.
Julia Mackey & Dirk Van Stralen
Marie Nagel Gallery
The Matters Family
Jack McKeag (Director's Chair)
Natasha McEwen & Elisa Aragon
Burthold 'Showdog' McEwen
The Norman Family x2
John & Gay Northey x2
Tess & Wendy
Douglas Bruce Reid
Michael Brice Reid
The Rembetika Hipsters
Bill and Buffy Rummel
The Shore Family
Donna, Mark & Lucy
Al Karim Somji
Theatre Royal, 2011 Cast & Crew
Hildur & Len - Troll Mountain (Director's Chair)
Besty van Halderen
Von Tiesenhausen Family
Yael Wand & Jason Griffin
Jay, Michael & Karen Abel
Amazing Space Gallery, Bill Horne
Amazing Space Gallery, Claire Kujundzic
Art Rush Gallery x2
Cheryl & Dave, The Bear's Paw
Danette Boucher & James Douglas,
The Fred Wells Show
The Danby Girls
Omineca & Signe Danes
R. Andrew Hamilton, Kaliban, August 2011
History in the Making
Homespun, Ron Dunn
Homespun, Gail Dunn
Neva Hohn & John Yates x2