By Cecilia Nasmith
Cobourg is proud to be home to the nation's largest observance of the centennial of the Armistice that ended the First World War – and announces that tickets are now available to the many celebrations that are planned.
Furthermore, the town's press release said, many of them are almost to the sold-out stage, so plan accordingly.
The Armistice 18 project will feature events from Sept. 11 through Nov. 11, a list that includes music, theatre, art installations, historic exhibits and a speaker's series.
One reason Cobourg is an appropriate venue for the commemorations is a piece of history that dates from 10 years after the Armistice, when Victoria Hall's Old Bailey Courtroom was the scene of a sensational libel trial that some have called the last battle of the Great War.
The case was a libel suit brought by Sir Arthur Currie, the general who had led the Canadian corps to victory in 1918. He was aggrieved by a front-page article in the Port Hope newspaper that claimed he had needlessly wasted Canadian lives in the campaign to capture Mons on the last day of the war.
The trial placed Canada's entire role in the Great War in the spotlight, and kept the country riveted for weeks.
“We have a great opportunity ahead of us here in Cobourg to commemorate the World War I centenary, and to do so in a truly respectful and collaborative way,” Councillor Suzanne Seguin said in the press release.
“It is absolutely crucial that we remember the many sacrifices that the armed forces and their families made, and continue to make every day for the safety of our country. Armistice 18 is a commemoration project that will ensure future generations are fully aware of how their ancestors fought bravely for our country, We encourage you to come out to one of the many plays, concerts, art and history exhibits, and speaker series taking place here in Cobourg.”
Several theatrical productions are planned.
Hugh Brewster's Last Day, Last Hour: Canada's Great War On Trial runs Oct. 18 through Nov. 11 (most Thursdays through Sundays), staged right where it originally happened – in Victoria Hall's ground-floor Old Bailey Courtroom.
This new play by Brewster recreates the charged atmosphere of the epic Sir Arthur Currie trial, produced by Northumberland Players and directed by Michael Khashmanian of the Beech Street Theatre.
Stephen Massicotte's Mary's Wedding runs Sept. 21 through Oct. 14 (most Thursdays through Sundays) at the Firehall Theatre, located at 213 Second St. (immediately south of Victoria Hall), a dramatization of the last great cavalry charge of the war.
Also by Stephen Massicotte, The Stars On Her Shoulders will be offered as a play reading on Oct. 18 and 20, as well as Nov. 4, 8 and 10. This is a new play about Canadian nurses in World War I, produced by Northumberland Players. It will take place in the Victoria Hall's second-floor Concert Hall.
Playwright Brewster will serve as director for a big Sept. 29 concert, Armistice: Cobourg's Great War Remembered in Words, Images and Song.
This unforgettable depiction of the era commemorates the remarkable part played by the men and women of Cobourg, with Brewster and Bridgette Robinson narrating the spellbinding history – to the accompaniment of a multi-media screen show and beautiful choral music by the Grammy award-winning Elora Singers.
The show takes place at 8 p.m. at Trinity United Church (284 Division St.).
Several leading Canadian historians will be coming to town for the speakers' series, held Sunday afternoons at 1 pm. in the Victoria Hall Concert Hall (and sponsored in part by Lit On Tour).
Oct. 14 – Jack Granatstein, acclaimed as the Dean of Canada's war historians, author of more than 60 books and former head of Canada's War Museum, will speak on Canada's Hundred Days in 1918 (the subject of his latest book, The Greatest Victory). This appearance is sponsored by the International Festival of Authors.
Oct. 21 – Tim Cook, a historian at the War Museum and author of many authoritative (and highly readable) accounts of Canadians under fire), will discuss the difficult relationship Sir Arthur Currie and Sam Hughes shared. This is the subject of his book The Madman and the Butcher.
Nov. 4 – Hailed as Canada's best-loved historical writer, Charlotte Gray has written such best-sellers as Sisters in the Wilderness and The Promise of Canada. She is also a biographer of women's-suffrage pioneer Nellie McClung, who will figure in her talk about how Canadian women won the vote in 1918. This appearance is sponsored by the Vimy Foundation's Centennial Speaker's Series.
As well, throughout the span of the observances, a multi-media exhibition on the First World War will be offered at Victoria Hall.
At the third-floor Art Gallery of Northumberland, a World War I painting exhibition by Canadian artist Charles Pachter is on display.
An exhibition at the Concert Hall will include The Great War In Colour photographs, book and documentary sponsored by the Vimy Foundation. A timeline of the war will include information on local veterans, Sir Arthur Currie, the Hundred Days and the capture of Mons.
Tickets to all events are available at the Victoria Hall Concert Hall box office, which you can contact at 905-372-2210 or www.concerthallatvictoriahall.com.Formore information on Armistice 18, call the Victoria Hall Concert Hall box office or visit www.experiencecobourg.ca/armistice-18.