Petrolia Tourism Hopes
46-;, ; Monday, March 18, 1974 The Ottawa Journal Petrolia I or W -''v culture has men hopes , tourisn boom llitnfl tmriiAii PETROLIA, Ont' (CP) -; The oil boom hit this town in thfr .hta lmna. hilt Aonr it's aiming for - a-new kind of . . . , ooom in culture ana tourism. IWKUW1UUW KIVUV ur corporated under the name of Victoria Playhouse Petrolia "bat raised more than $148,000 of the $220,000 it will need to restore the town's -crowning stricture, a Victorian opera bouse built in 1889. Petrolia 1 plans to hold a summer festival of the arts in 1974 to celebrate the centennial of its incorporation. By the following year the old opera house should be fully restored as the new home of the annual summery festival and winter-time community activities,. --Ten' miles southeast of Sar- v niaC and, only - a few;; miles more from Port Huron, Mich., - Petrolia seems sure to be come a lively museum of the 1880a and '90s, an attraction fof Canadian and American tourists, and a focal point for the cultural life of the re-, gional farm community. The village first boomed into prominence with the discovery of oil by drilling in . 1858, after a small kerosene ' industry had been established ' on the basis of surface pools of tar. After the opera house was built, .great touring art-' ists including the New York Metropolitan Opera ap-'. 'peared here. ; .' . . Then the commercial centre shifted .to Sarnia," where the ,. big oil companies built 'their refineries and the country's petrochemical industry : was established, 'vi: Development froze in Petrolia, which now is little more than a dormitory town for Sarnia. ' The old opera house in the town hall, which also housed the Jail, municipal offices and : the fire hall, still is struc-: turally sound. Plans call for fireproof ing the stairs, strengthening the floor, deep- ,' ening the stage, and con-' verting the fire ball into an entrance foyer. - --v j. . The jfbyhouse group 'also f, have tentative plans for reha-; bllitating two old schools and' r another fire hall, now boarded' j up, and using'them as an art -gallery, a crafts shop and a showroom; The; town's Victo.. riad atmosphere has already been heightened by, two sum-merg ,of fresh paint; on the main-street. ';v v -; ' v '? ? v. ; Ron. .Baker,,-. LambtonV County librarian and a promoter of the projects, says no single theme has been set for , the festival' Petrolia doesn't want to become a centre for a single man's work,- like Ci-XSC Ra-dfote, "nightly magazai&etyle program As It Happens was giva toe Canadian Broadcasting League's first Cybil award-Saturday. " - for As It The award is to be given enouaUy . for ''upholding and promoting die public interest in broadcasting." " ' Mark Starowicz, executive producer of the show, ce- Happens Alpert tour planned Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, out of the music limelight , for several years, are back in business. A new album fa to be released and a tour, including several Canadian dates, is planned for the coming months. cedved the award on behalf of "its staff and hosts Barbara Frum and Harry Brown. Mis Fnnn earlier mis month won the best radio public aPaira broadcaster award of the Association of Canadian Television -and Radio Artists (ACTRA). . . The Cybfl award gets its name front the fcwrtals of tibo Canadian Broadcasting League, aa association promoting pubic broadcasting. Shakespeare at Stratford, Ont, or Shaw' at Niagara-on- ' the-Lake, Ont ; ' " ' Mr. Baker says the committee wants to keep the Petrolia festival oriented to the community. A theme may be found in recent work by . Toronto's Theatre Passe - Mu-, raille, which gave the pre mier performance here of a : play based on the 1880 Donnelly, murders' of Lucan, Ont a- grim .tale of rural horse-thievery,; barn-burnings, and .Saturday night barroom . mayhem. , . , , . .. r Nicholas Goldschmidt, director of music at University .of Guelph and internationally-known choral conductor, came here to examine the old ' opera house and gave his en-' . couragement to the project He also volunteered to con- ! duct a choral, a workshop ' among area church choir members as . a preface to building up community interest In a festival. .- : The opera house is only one of several scattered throughout Ontario which have been or may be restored to their Victorian splendor. Actually, they are small auditoriums, seating about 800, suitable more for recital, and small play work than for grand op- Mary Pat deeson, recreation director, said there is plenty of community activity, to keep the restored Victoria ball busy during the winter months. She is in charge of activities ranging from girl's hockey - to senior citizen's clubs. i , -.-!