Fonds MS-3-36, Boxes 1 - 18 - Chester Playhouse fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Chester Playhouse fonds

General material designation

  • Graphic material
  • Textual record

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

Level of description


Reference code

MS-3-36, Boxes 1 - 18

Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1982-2002 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

7.2 m of textual records

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator


Administrative history

Chester Playhouse has been a home to the performing arts since it was built in 1938 in Chester, Nova Scotia, by Ken Corkum and Eric Redden. Its first tenant, the Keneric Theatre, operated for thirty years as a cinema, and the building was first used for live performances in 1963, when the Chester Jesters began the first of five summer seasons.

The building was purchased and renovated in the 1970s by Leo and Dora Velleman, who renamed it the Leading Wind Theatre as a home for Canadian Puppet Festivals (CPF). Managed by a board of directors, CPF was a non-profit organization that hosted workshops and puppet productions including The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado. After the Vellemans retired in 1983 CPF merged with Mermaid Theatre.

Chester Theatre Council (CTC) was founded in 1984 to preserve the Leading Wind Theatre. CTC originally sponsored touring productions, but in 1987 leased the building as a venue for the first Chester Theatre Festival. That same year, Christopher Ondaatje purchased the theatre and leased it to the council and the name was changed to Chester Playhouse. The Ondaatje family donated the playhouse to the CTC in 1992 and in 1993 the theatre underwent an extensive renovation. In 1999 fundraising for a second wave of improvements began. These renovations were completed in two phases, which resulted in new dressing rooms, workshop space, green room and lobby, and an updated electrical system.

The Chester Playhouse is owned and operated by a volunteer board of directors, drawn from the community, who provide strategic leadership to guide the direction of the theatre. The theatre is managed by the Chester Playhouse Society, which is mandated to source, present and promote live theatre, music performance, film and other cultural experiences, and educational and participatory opportunities for youth and adults. To support this, the society seeks to sustainably equip, operate and maintain the Chester Playhouse and has hosted both touring companies and other performers; provided a venue for local performing arts groups, including the Chester Drama Society, the Chester Ballet School, and the Chester Brass Band; hosted workshops for all ages; established the Chester Theatre School program and the Chester Theatre Festival; and allowed the space to be used for local meetings.

Custodial history

Material was donated to the archives in 2005 by the Chester Theatre Council.

Scope and content

This fonds consists of records created and collected by both the Canadian Puppet Festival and the Chester Theatre Council related to the management of the Chester Playhouse, including financial records such as statements, budgets, balance sheets, and invoices; press releases; photocopies of reviews; advertising and marketing records; personnel files; construction and maintenance records; meeting minutes and agendas; reports such as attendance records and box office sales; grant applications and fundraising files; correspondence; and event files, including programmes, tickets, and other promotional materials.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script note


Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Personnel files are closed.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials do not circulate and must be used in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room. Materials may be under copyright. Contact departmental staff for guidance on reproduction.

Finding aids

Finding aid available onsite.

Associated materials

Related materials


Further accruals are not expected.

General note

Preferred citation: [Identification of item], Chester Playhouse fonds, MS-3-36, Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Subject access points

Name access points

Accession area