Our First Concert Program

In order that we should keep up the reputation of this new institution musically as well as otherwise we entered into our first concert program…

The Daily Colonist, August 25 1916

Now that their outdoor recreation was well established, the Gordon Head Athletic Club decided to focus on cultural pursuits — and raise money for patriotic purposes. The Club executive agreed to hold a concert in Gordon Head Hall on the evening of August 25 1916. “A charge of twenty-five cents for adults and half price for children was arranged. The president, Mr. Edwards, and the treasurer to be at the door, Dr. Miller to be invited to preside, Mrs. Mitchell and several young ladies of the club to attend to decorating the hall.”

The hall was crowded. It had been charmingly decorated with flowers and flags, and the gathering, lacking altogether in formality, was bright, cheerful, enjoyable to all participants.

The Daily Colonist, August 26 1916
Photo credit: The Daily Colonist, August 26 1916.

Mrs. Fahey sang and sang again to our delight…

The Secretary, Mrs. Peter McNaughton, was in charge of the program and got a really popular group of local entertainers. The star of the evening was “the outstanding singer among Western women,” Mrs. Macdonald Fahey, who “sang and sang again to our delight…” as Secretary McNaughton later enthused. Mrs Macdonald Fahey (Winifred Lugrin Fahey) was a well-known music teacher and soprano from Victoria. During the WWI years, she often appeared at fundraiser concerts. The Gordon Head audience definitely enjoyed her performance: “Mrs. Macdonald Fahey’s vocal selections were received enthusiastically, in fact her audience could not be more satisfied. She was very generous with encores, returning several times, and every effort appeared to elicit more vehement and insistent applause.” (The Daily Colonist, August 26 1916)

Photo credit: The Daily Colonist, April 17 1927

Mr. Dooley and his little daughter gave us the comedy of the program…

Thomas Dooley (a future Saanich Councillor) was “in the early days of Victoria one of Victoria’s leading amateur comedians.” (The Daily Colonist, 1911). “Tom” and Lilly Dooley had a funny song and dance routine. “The Dooleys, Irish comedians and dancers” performed at several fundraising concerts during the WWI years. In June 1916, the Dooleys, along with George F. Watson (Gordon Head Athletic Club member), had performed at a James Island Red Cross concert. In October 1916, the Dooleys were at the Home Products Fair: “Tom Dooley sang several comic songs in his usual entertaining style and his daughter, Miss Lilly Dooley, in costume, was also the recipient of whole-hearted applause. Both appeared in an Irish jig….” The Daily Colonist of March 18 1917 reported “Miss Lilly Dooley is always a hit on any programme on account of her cleverness and brightness.”

Councillor H.M. Diggon gave a number of mystifying slight-of-hand demonstrations…

Councillor Harold Diggon (Ward 7) was part of a comedy conjuring act with Mr. L.D. Maclean. They performed at the same James Island Red Cross fundraiser as the Dooleys and also at the 1916 Home Products Fair: “Mr. L.D. Maclean, wizard of magic, assisted by a quaint comedian, Harold Diggon.” The Gordon Head audience obviously liked Diggon, and he returned to entertain them: “It is worthy of mention that the Club, through the kindness of Mr. Diggon, were able to offer an interesting half hour of slight-of-hand and comedy performance to the company gathered to celebrate Christmas at the Hall.”

Gordon Head flowers were presented to the performers by the little people of the club who did their part very prettily. The gathering came to a close with the singing of the National Anthem.

Report of the August 25th Concert

Gordon Head Athletic Club made $20 from the August 25 1916 concert, and used the money to send Christmas parcels to Gordon Head men who were serving overseas. See “All were pleased and grateful for our interest”.


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