L-R: Anita Gaffney, Stratford Festival Executive Director, Stratford Mayor Dan Matheson, and Dr. Richard Alway, Chair of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, as they unveil the plaque commemorating thr Stratford Festival as an event of national historic significance. June 11th, 2019 (Photo by Ryan Drury)

Stratford Festival recognized as event of national historic significance

The Stratford Festival has officially been proclaimed an event of national historic significance.

A plaque was unveiled at the theatre to mark the occasion on Tuesday.

Stratford Festival Executive Director Anita Gaffney said it’s amazing for the festival to receive the distinction from Parks Canada, and they’re excited to proudly display the plaque for visitors forever.

“It’ll be great to have the plaque on display here at the Festival Theatre, so that we have hundreds of people each day wandering through the gardens, and it’ll be something for them to look at and reflect on all that the Stratford Festival means to the country,” she said.

The plaque was presented by Dr. Richard Alway, the chair of the Historic Site and Monument Board of Canada, on behalf of Parks Canada. Stratford Mayor Dan Matheson was also in attendance.

The plaque was presented on what would have been the 99th birthday of the Stratford Festival’s founder, Tom Patterson, who founded the festival in 1953. Gaffney said next year he’ll be getting another big post-humous present as well in the form of the Tom Patterson Theatre.

“It’s been under construction for a year and a bit, and it will be ready to house performances next year. It’s a beautiful new venue by the lake, and it echoes the shape of the lake,” said Gaffney.

Gaffney said they wanted to do something special to forever honour Patterson. Meanwhile, Dr. Alway said as a government rep and a regular festival attendee, it was a huge honour for him to present the plaque on a very significant day for the theatre and its founder.

“His dream has really flourished in an incredible way, and we are so proud to present this plaque on the occasion of what would have been his 99th birthday, so it’s very special to be here,” he said.

The Stratford Festival has grown immensely since it’s humble beginnings, and currently employs over 1,000 people, including directors, salespeople, artists and stagehands.

The plaque officially recognizing the Stratford Festival as an event of national historic significance, presented to the theatre by Parks Canada on what would have been the 99th birthday of Festival Founder, Tom Patterson. June 11th, 2019 (Photo by Ryan Drury)