Theatre mines colourful history

From chocolate wars to brideships loaded with women

Vancouver Island has a rich history with well known tales of fur trading, gold miners, maritime adventures and government officials, but what about chocolate bars, brideships and English gentlemen?

These little known stories are being told in a live theatre production inside one of the most historic buildings in Victoria on July 13 at 7 p.m.

Seeds and Salts Theatre Company and the Bamberton Historical Society are presenting Bedtime Stories: Dreaming of Vancouver Island in the historic 19th century Vice Admiralty Courtroom inside the Maritime Museum of British Columbia.

Still in use as a tax court to this day, this courtroom where “hanging judge” Chief Justice Matthew Begbie presided was once the Supreme Court of B.C.

Now museum staff are adding a stage to this historic space to help showcase some of the most unforgettable stories that will leave you thinking about what it means to be an Islander.

“We pick four true stories or events that happened that are well researched so we’re not going on hearsay,” says Maureen Alexander, president, founder and manager of the Bamberton Historical Society. “We chose stories that most people don’t know, but have an emotional element that will resonate with the audience. It’s part of our mandate to take Island history to Islanders,” she says.

The play, which is suitable for an all-ages audience, will run just over an hour with no intermission. It’s a fast-moving production featuring four actors and four stories with minimal props.

“We don’t do re-enactments. What we do is unique. There’s no other historical theatre on the Island,” Alexander says.

The stories include The Chocolate Bar War of 1947, when children in Ladysmith protested over a three cent increase on the price of chocolate bars, it got national media attention; Strathcona 100, a tale about the people involved in the expedition to discover B.C.’s first provincial park; The Second Son,  while the eldest son in a British household gets the inheritance, the second son got sent to Canada to help colonize the new territory; and Brideships— a tale from the mid 1800s when the Fraser River gold rush turned sleepy Victoria  into the “Wild West,” and there were about 100 men for every woman. Find out what happened when the United Kingdom was asked to send boatloads of willing and “God fearing” women to help settle the men down.

“The courtroom used to be used as a theatre back in the ’70s,” says MaryAnne Dieno, communications and events co-ordinator at the Maritime Museum. “Brideships is one of the stories that is very telling of the maritime history in Victoria so we thought it would be a great fit.”

TIckets are $10 and are available in the Crow’s Nest Gift Shop in the Maritime Museum.

Written by Justin Skye Conley, directed by Michelle Alexander and featuring actors Lindsay Detta, Ming Hudson, David Gingerich and Denise Cedeno, Dreaming of Vancouver Island will also be making a stop at Saanich on Sunday, July 10 at 7pm at St. Stephen’s Church Hall, 7921 St. Stephen’s Road (off Mt.Newton X Road), Saanichton. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
Get the word on art on Sunday afternoons in Victoria

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria presents Sunday lecture series in March

GVPA authors
Write On! Greater Victoria Public Library releases 2021 local authors collection

Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) is celebrating local authors with the unveiling… Continue reading

Hermann's Jazz Club
Hermann’s celebrates International Women’s Day and St. Paddy’s Day

International Women’s Day will be celebrated at Hermann’s Jazz Club with an… Continue reading

Gabriola Island poet Naomi Beth Wakan’s latest book is ‘Wind on the Heath.’ (Photo courtesy Elias Wakan)
Former Nanaimo poet laureate revisits past poems in latest collection

Gabriola Island’s Naomi Beth Wakan presents career-spanning ‘Wind on the Heath’

The Sooke Fine Arts Show will be online again this year, showcasing unique artworks from Vancouver Island and B.C.’s coastal island artists from July 23 to Aug. 2. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke Fine Arts Show goes virtual for second year in a row

Art exhibition and show set for July 23 to Aug. 2

Donna Hales next to one of her paintings of Sooke. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville artist Donna Hales still displaying her work at age 94

Current exhibit at the McMillan Arts Centre through April 1

Nanaimo painter Shawnda Wilson hangs her exhibit Tropical Wallpaper at Jonny the Barber. The show runs until the end of March. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Nanaimo painter battles pandemic blues with tropical exhibition

Shawnda Wilson presents ‘Tropical Wallpaper’ at Old City Quarter barbershop

It’s been almost a year since the last public performance inside the Chemainus Theatre. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Donors pledge $60,000 in matching campaign at Chemainus Theatre

Perrys, Hiltons and Duncan Iron Works help to Bridge the Gap during COVID shutdown

Artist Sandra Meigs will be the next speaker in NIC’s online 2021 Artist Talk series, appearing virtually on Friday, March 5 at 1 pm. For the full schedule and link to attend the Artist Talk Online Series, visit https://nicart.tickit.ca/. (Photo: The Glass Ticker (2017) — 15’ X 9’ X 5’, wood, enamel, lights, aluminum, glass, automata. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid.)
Celebrated artist and mentor Meigs joins North Island College Artist Talk series

Vivid, immersive, and enigmatic style combines the complex with comic elements

Arts Laureate Barbara Adams joins artist Luke Ramsey and Mayor Kevin Murdoch in front of the Parade of Play mural at the Oak Bay High track. (Black Press Media file photo)
Curtain draws to a close on Oak Bay arts laureate’s term

Barbara Adams has been a champion for arts in the community

The students in the Timberline Musical Theatre program are rehearsing this year’s production, Once Upon a Mattress, three days per week after school in preparation for their upcoming virtual performances. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Island high school’s musical theatre program hoping for last-minute ticket surge

Popular annual run of Timberline shows costs $7,000-$8,000 to stage, sold $750 in tickets

Steve Bick is coming out of his COVID cocoon with a curated compilation of original tracks by West Coast musicians. (Submitted photo)
Curated album showcases West Coast musicians

‘Locals Only – Volume One’ features an eclectic mix of tunes from musicians living on the Pacific Rim

WILDLIFE TREE: Tofino Poet Laureate Christine Lowther stands next to a giant cedar tree on District Lot 114, the site of Tofino’s controversial affordable housing project. The tree was pinned with an official Ministry of Forests yellow wildlife tree sign to educate fallers that the tree needs to be left standing for food, shelter and nesting. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino author Christine Lowther calling for poetry about trees

“I’m thrilled to be of service to trees through poetry.”

Most Read