Have you ever driven or walked by the Dundas Little Theatre on Market Street and wondered about how it came to be?
The Dundas Little Theatre was founded in 1960 by a group of community theatre enthusiasts after seeing an article published in the Dundas Star titled “Dundas Thespians Awaken.” Their first meeting was held in the basement of the late Don Garstin’s house and the rest is history.
They performed in schools (mainly Parkside High School) and church auditoriums until they decided they were ready to have a space of their own. In 1978, a fundraising campaign was initiated and the Town of Dundas offered them a site beside the J.L. Grightmire arena, where a recently closed outdoor swimming pool was located. Wintario Lottery matched their fundraising efforts and over $325,000 was raised overall.
Architect Trevor Garwood-Jones offered his time and expertise, at the peak of his career, to design the building (his firm also designed the Dundas Community Pool next door). However, the design of the theatre wasn’t as straight forward as imagined. Before the small theatre was to be built, the old pool would have to be filled in. It was decided the original change rooms of the pool building were strong and sturdy enough to be built upon and the auditorium went right over top of the filled-in pool.
Though the facade has seen slight changes, the tongue and grove siding facing Market Street still remains, as does the diagonal “Centre For The Arts” typeface. The bulk of the butt end of the building is made up of bush hammered concrete. A sharp little place to call home for some lucky thespians.
In 2000 Dundas town council renamed the Little Theatre the “Garstin Centre for the Arts” in honour of Don Garstin, of one of the founding members. The Dundas Little Theatre had its official opening day on Friday May 23, 1980.
For more information on Dundas Little Theatre, it’s productions and fundraising visit www.dundaslittletheatre.com.