The Fergus Grand Theatre has become Centre Wellington and area’s premiere live performance space.
In January of 1928, a barn stood at what is now 244 St Andrew St in Fergus. It was built as a stable for the customers of the Commercial Hotel, some 8 decades earlier, in or about 1850. Just six months later on Tuesday, August 28, the head of MGM Louis B. Mayer sent a telegram to Fergus. It was a wish for great success to Sam Fardella who had replaced the barn with ‘a modern movie theatre’.
Speaking at the opening of the theatre were Dr. Abraham Groves and Col. J.J. Craig.
Dr Groves said that as long as Mr. Fardella brought good pictures to his theatre, it would exert an influence for good in the community. Reeve Moffat, when he addressed the opening night crowd, said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Fardella for the public spirit he has shown, and I know that we all trust and hope that the future will bear for the Grand Theatre a most satisfactory, happy and gratifying return.”
Cable television pioneer Jake Milligan bought the building during the 1960’s and as well as being the home of local cable studios, the front of the building was used as an electronics shop. In 1968, the theatre portion of the building was restored and began to show live performances, beginning with the Elora Community Theatre who continue to produce plays there to this day.
When the cable company moved to new studios, Hugh and Lorraine Drew-Brook of Salem bought the building with the intent of preserving it as a community performing arts facility and renamed it Theatre On The Grand. Once again there were renovations to improve the stage and auditorium and the theatre was sold to a fledgling theatre company. After a dozen seasons, the company closed its doors and the Township of Centre Wellington became owner and operator, returning the venue to its original name.
In the summer of 2003 the Township of Centre Wellington became owner and operator of the Fergus Grand Theatre. A facility staff person was contracted by the Township to assist in management of the theatre through the Parks & Recreation Department.
In a very brief time it has become a truly vibrant and busy community gathering place for a diversified number of events. In addition to theatre productions staged by the original three user groups, there is now a wide variety of other activity including: concerts, variety shows, music cabarets, magic, readings, art exhibits, book signings, public meetings, creative day camps, church services and service club fundraisers.
The motto of FGT says it all: Your Place for Entertainment , Your Space to Stage Events!
Courtesy of Fergus Grand Theatre