Tensions are running high as the dinner table conversation turns from forced pleasantries to a heated discussion surrounding the upcoming confederation of Canada. Miss O’Leary’s position on the treatment of the Algonquins and the devastation of their lands is obviously emotionally driven, as she has recently befriended and hired John Stevens, an Indigenous man, and is currently raising his child for goodness sake. As the conversation continues to escalate and become more and more uncomfortable for us other guests, Charles Matheson, pushes back his seat with a startling crash and stands firm in his stature and his beliefs, as he loudly and assertively declares that no one will disrespect the work and progression that Upper Canada has made towards a united future in his father’s home. And rightfully so, as his father, the soon to be senator in Canada’s new parliament is currently away, hastily tying up loose ends for Upper Canada, at the legislature in Toronto. Miss O’Leary, reaching her wits end, finally tosses her napkin down in disgust and storms out of the room.
“Please follow me to the next scene.”
Those seven simple words snap me out of 1867 and back to the current moment. I can’t quite tell if, with all the talk of #Canada150, it’s the incredibly relevant script or the wonderfully executed acting that keeps pulling me into the scene, and out of reality. Maybe it’s the fact that we are standing in the Matheson’s actual dining room, where no doubt, this conversation and many others like it would have actually happened. Regardless, as we make our way out of Matheson House, and get settled in the museum’s gardens, the next scene begins. The sounds of cars and people passing by on busy Gore St. immediately begin to fade away and I’m drawn back to 1867 yet again.
Moving from scene to scene was almost just as memorable. As we navigated from inside the museum to the Shaws of Perth storefront, and from the Horticultural Society’s gardens back into a different room in the museum, the group would chat amongst ourselves about the scene we’d just witnessed, or where everyone was travelling from, or the different ways we were celebrating #Canada150 this year. The constant movement of the tour evaded stagnancy and allowed for interaction, as the bubbling crowd moved together, anticipating what was to come next.
The Classic Theatre Festival’s historical re-creation, A Nation Lost and Found guides guests through the daily lives of Perth residents at the time of Confederation. What are they thinking and talking about with respect to the birth of a new country, the forced dispossession of Indigenous peoples’ traditional territories, and the dynamics of the 1837 rebellion? The storyline, written by Laurel Smith, Artistic Director of the Classic Theatre Festival, creatively takes guests along a journey through the always tender terrain of courtship, love, and marriage during a time when loyalties run deep and dissension is more than frowned upon. The theatrical historical walking tour runs until August 27th, beginning at 11:00.a.m, Wednesdays through Sundays, at the Matheson House Museum, and takes guests out to explore the history and streets of Perth, On.
Celebrate #Canada150 by returning to that very first day, 150 years ago: bit.ly/PerthThroughTheAges