Grafton church hosts The Ballad of D'Arcy McGee
Submitted Photo From left, actor Mark Finnan will be joined by a talented group of musicians (Glen Caradus on tin whistle and bodhran, John Hoffman on fiddle and Irish bouzouki and Michael Ketemer on concertina, guitar and string dulcimer) March 15 at Grafton's St. Andrew's United Church for The Ballad of D'Arcy McGee, the story of a Father of Confederation and his mysterious death.
David Lander, pastor at St. Andrew's United Church in Grafton, won high marks from his congregation when he staged Skin Deep: The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. during February for Black History Month.
On March 15, rather than mounting his own production, he is bringing in a performance that is based in history: The Ballad of D'Arcy McGee.
It's the story of Canada's visionary Father of Confederation (18255-1868), told through lively narrative, music and song. Along with his heroic life, it explores his tragic and somewhat mysterious death.
Thomas D’Arcy McGee was born in Ireland. At 17, as an aspiring poet, he sailed for America, where he became a journalist and later published his own newspaper.
Self-educated and widely read, he earned a law degree from McGill University and settled in Montreal. In 1857, he published The New Era and became deeply committed to the creation of a new northern nation, a tolerant society that would afford its citizens the opportunity for a better life, regardless of race or religion.
Poet, politician and reformer, McGee's eloquent speeches and writings in support of that ideal, were dismissed at first. Ultimately, however, they contributed greatly to the creation of the Dominion of Canada.
Seeking to resolve historic hatreds based on race and religion in the Canada of the mid-1800s, he addressed gatherings in this region and elsewhere. His humour and oratory, though well received in some quarters, led to attacks by extremists on all sides. But his idealism, courage, sense of justice and desire to create a united and progressive nation prevailed, right up to the night he was assassinated.
His death, like that of Abraham Lincoln’s, was a cathartic event for a young nation. But the question remains: who killed D’Arcy McGee?
The action is set in a town hall in southern Ontario in late 1873, a time of political crisis in the fledgling nation. A visiting author, a former friend of McGee’s, is accompanied by local musicians and singers in this telling of a pivotal chapter in Canadian history that both informs and entertains.
The show is presented by author, actor and playwright Mark Finnan with traditional musicians and singers Glen Caradus, John Hoffman and Michael Ketemer.
The church is located at 137 Old Danforth Rd., Grafton, and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and free for children under the age of 12).