St. Joseph and Area Historical Society

Recipient of the 2011 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Community Programming 

November 24, 2011

Canada's History speaks to the St. Joseph and Area Historical Society, community members, historians, and partners about their local history project: a play on a quirky local historical figure.

St. Joseph (Ontario)

The St. Joseph and Area Historical Society decided to commission and produce a theatrical play, drawing almost exclusively on the talents and skills of its own citizens to recount the story of one of Huron County’s most colourful residents, Narcisse Cantin.

Cantin was best known for his audacious plan to create a mammoth canal connecting Lake Huron to Lake Erie, turning St. Joseph into an early twentieth century boomtown, based on speculation over the canal’s construction. With a population of just over 1,000, mounting a large scale production like this one initially seemed as audacious a plan as Narcisse Cantin’s. Nonetheless, the historical society was able to mobilize unprecedented financial and community support. More than a dozen area organizations were involved in aspects of the production.

In the summer of 2011, the production took to a live outdoor stage constructed specifically for Narcisse where nine sold out performances drew an attendance almost triple the community’s population.

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