Prince Street School Concert, 1899

In The Guardian of December 30, 1899 was the following review of a concert at Prince Street School (I’ve broken the text into paragraphs to improve readability, but this is otherwise verbatim, thanks to

The interest taken in Prince Street School concerts is not confined to the pupils alone but to those who since its institution have gone forth and have become the parents of many of those whose names are today enrolled on its class books. For some time past in fact since the opening of the school intense interest has been taken in the Prince St. School concert, and the teachers and pupils vied with each other in their desire to make the affair a success.

It might however, be mentioned that the Principal, Mr. J. D. Seaman has spared neither time nor trouble to perfect the many numbers on the programme. Misses McMurray, Bremner and James also did all possible to aid in making the concert a success and valuable assistance was given by Messrs. Arthur Peake and B. Bremner.

Shortly after eight o’clock the curtain rose and sixteen young ladies in costume emblematic of Britain, each carrying a Union Jack performed the intricate figures of the Columbia Drill. Toward the close the recitation on by one of the sixteen “Only a small bit of Bunting,” received patriotic rounds of applause, after which the whole company joined in singing the “Red White and Blue.”

The absent minded Beggar was cleverly rendered by little Hilda Sentner. Harry Smith followed with another of Kipling’s selections “Tommy.” Harry was compelled to respond to an encore.

The Gossip Pantomime by 14 little girls was the gem of the evening. The motions or the little girls was almost perfect, as they by mute language gossiped and noted the effect. The Cantata “Little Gypsy” by 45 performers came next. The scene on the Village Green, where all the young people were enjoying themselves in sport was  very real, while the dialogue and acting were very good amateur work.

The solo by Mary Norton who took the part of the gypsy, was sweetly rendered. The duet by Winnie Holbrock and Pearl Hunter was good. Victor Anderson’s (the gypsy boy) song sustained his reputation as a soloist. Particularly good was the marching, while the costuming was tastefully done. The story of the Cantata was then told in three tableaux, first the child stolen afterwards ill-used, in each of these the gypsy was surrounded by the school children, then came the restoration of the child to her sisters which was a climax to a series of truly realistic pictures. The pictures were illuminated by electric lights through different colored-shades, the effect of which was beautiful.

The grouping of the tableaux was done by Mr. Thos. May and the lights managed by Mr. W. P. Douil. In a clear distinct voice Jean McIsaac described the sorrows, and trials of an inventor’s wife. Master Victor Anderson’s singing of Tommy Atkins elicited long and loud applause. The audience persisted in hearing him again.

The closing number of this admirable programme was the dialogue Britannia, in which Britannia as a piece of statuary, presented an admirable picture and throughout the the entire dialogue and tableaux was as immovable as the marble she represented. Ceylon, Cape Colony, India, Gibraltar, Australia, China, Canada, Yukon, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland and England, richly costumed placed their several gifts of natural wealth at Britannia’s feet. The effect of this as presented in the tableau that followed was beautiful.

The patriotic tone manifested throughout the entertainment reached a climax when the audience rose to their feet and joined in the chorus of Rule Britannia followed by the National Anthem.

We are not giving this entertainment undue praise when we say that it was one of the best given in the city, and we are glad to announce that the management has decided to repeat it this afternoon at 3 o’clock to give the mothers and children who were unable to be present an opportunity to enjoy this rare treat. Admission to the matinee will be 10c. for children, 15c. for adults. 

What’s remarkable from that day’s paper — the last of the 1800s — was that there was no mention at all of the turning of the millennium. For those of us who lived through the melee of Y2K that seems quite strange.