Since 1975, the Blyth Festival Theatre has put farmers and rural Canadians centre stage, telling our stories, sharing our history, and celebrating our way of life. A fully professional theatre, in the heart of Ontario’s bread-basket, the Blyth Festival’s ingenuity, tenacity, and creativity has irrevocably reinvigorated the region’s very imagination.
At the end of WWI, in commemoration of the sacrifices of local soldiers, the Women’s Institute in Blyth, Ontario, came together to raise the funds necessary to buy a parcel of land on the main street of Blyth, and erect a living cenotaph, the Blyth Memorial Community Hall. Rather than a bronze statue, or a marble monument, the people of Blyth, Ontario chose to build a 500-seat theatre, celebrating the very culture that the young men in their community had died to protect.
But, by the late 1960s, the building was in such disrepair that the theatre had to be closed, and the future of the Hall was uncertain, with some voices calling for its demolition. However, in an unforeseeable act of revitalizing inspiration, a group of tenacious local volunteers came together, raised the money to repair the building, and founded the Blyth Centre for the Arts, home of the now world-renowned Blyth Festival Theatre.
The full scope of what the Blyth Festival has accomplished in 44 years is astounding.
Where the Blyth Festival has truly proven its leadership is in its ferocious insistence that the stories of life in rural Canada truly matter; that characters and plots taken and told from the county roads are just as important as those that light up the marquees on the Great White Way. The Blyth Festival has passionately asserted, for 44 years, that rural Canada has a history and imagination that is full, vibrant and as worthy of championing as any Shakespeare play. The Blyth Festival has put rural Ontario centre stage.