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  • Showcasing the history of Chestermere Lake

    sunshine cafe pic 1

    Performers of the Sunshine Café performed in front of Our Lady of Wisdom Elementary School students on June 24 and taught the students about the history of Chestermere through the play. The Sunshine Café performers have been working since May to ensure the production is the best it can possibly be for residents on Aug. 18. Photo by Emily Rogers

    The Chestermere Historical Foundation provided the  ‘Our Lady of Wisdom Elementary School’ students with a sneak peek of the upcoming performance of The Sunshine Café, which showcases the history of Chestermere Lake.

    “It’s been a privilege to perform at schools and share a little snapshot of Chestermere’s history with the students,” said The Sunshine Café performer Megan Matthies.

    Jen Peddlesden with the Chestermere Historical Foundation said residents can expect an engaging story chock-full of historical facts, that are suitable for families with humour, puppets, a boxing match, and magic.

    “The goal is to serve the people of Chestermere with education in a very palatable way, about the history of our area, and both the city and the farming community around,” Peddlesden said.

    She added, “The other goal is just pure entertainment.”

    The Sunshine Café will showcase how without the Canadian Pacific Railroad and visionaries like William Pearce there would never have been irrigation, which created the lake, and then encouraged the migration of more settlers and finally a community around the lake.

    Peddlesden hopes that residents learn more about where they live, and they find a new appreciation for Chestermere’s rural history.

    She added, at the beginning of the play, the server in The Sunshine Café notes to the main character that Chestermere originally was grassland and the home of the Treaty 7 people.

    “It was a vibrant, alive, prairie landscape. The railroad and irrigation changed this incredibly,” she said.

    Since May, performers of The Sunshine Café have been reading through the play, working on stage movements, learning the music, working on the action sequences, and putting the scenes together cohesively.

    “As a Chestermere resident and someone who is trained in theatre, it was really a dream to be part of a play about the community I call home,” Matthies said.

    Working with the cast, director, stage manager, producer, designers, and the Chestermere Historical Foundation who are all passionate about making a great project has been amazing, Matthies said.

    “It’s been wonderful working with such amazing artists and contributors,” she added.

    Matthies has run into challenges, including playing several different parts and having to change characters quickly, but easily takes it all in stride.

    “It was a good challenge figuring out how to make that smooth transition,” she said.

    Without the Historical Foundation members, and volunteers who have donated their time to The Sunshine Café, the performance wouldn’t be possible.

    “A thank you to the incredible playwrights, introduced to us by Megan Matthies, who took a pile of history books and from them wrote this incredible story that started the ball rolling,” Peddlesden said.

    “This is a fun, family-friendly look at Chestermere’s history and I hope everyone who comes out enjoys the show,” Matthies said.

    To learn more about the people who made The Sunshine Café come to life, or volunteer for the production, please visit the Chestermere Historical Foundation website at www.chestermerehistoricalfoundation.org,  or to register for free tickets to The Sunshine Café please visit  https://bit.ly/31EqLz3.