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…

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

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)

“Councillor H.M. Diggon gave a number of mystifying slight-of-hand demonstrations…” Harold Diggon (Saanich Councillor for Ward 7) was the duo, with Lauchlan D. Maclean, in a war-time act called “Magic Mirth and Mystery”. Diggon and Maclean performed comedy magic acts at various Red Cross fundraisers. The Gordon Head audience obviously liked Diggon, and he returned: “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.”

“Mr. Dooley and his little daughter gave us the comedy of the program…” The Dooley family were popular war-time entertainers. Tom Dooley, who specialized in comic Irish and seaside songs, was “an entertainer of unquenchable fun and spirit” (Victoria Daily Times April 16 1917). Off stage, Tom Dooley was a union representative and social activist who often wrote letters to the Victoria Daily Times under the non de plum “The Irish Philosopher.” In 1919, he succeeded Harold Diggon as Ward 7 Councillor. Miss Lily Dooley was cute little singer and dancer. “Miss Lily Dooley is always a hit on any programme on account of her cleverness and brightness.” (The Daily Colonist, March 18 1917)

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) The 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”.

Next – The Gymnasium