Saturday, July 4, 2015

Lenah Field Fisher and Victoria Hall

I recently popped into Victoria Hall to take care of some business. As I walked by an open door, I was startled to hear a voice which seemed to summon me into the lovely council chambers.
Upon closer examination, I was fascinated to see a woman standing off to one side in the chambers. She wore a long dress and a large flowered hat and introduced herself as Lenah Field Fisher. I had no idea who she was but I immediately noticed a portrait of a woman with similar features on the wall. Could they be one in the same I wondered?
I stood in fascination as she described herself as a long time Cobourg citizen who had been born in the Dressler house, the same house where actress Marie Dressler had been born. In fact, Lenah's family had owned that very home. Her great grandfather had been an MPP for Northumberland West.

Despite seeming very lifelike, the figure that was speaking to me was not real, but rather an avatar. It was a projected image of an actress with recorded voice. How unusual it was to see this and to watch her describe her life.

I have since learned more about Lenah. She was a highly educated woman, graduating from OAC Guelph as a dietitian and completing post graduate studies in the U.S. In the 1950's, Lenah was a member of town council and eventually deputy reeve. In 1972, she began her campaign to save Victoria Hall, built in the 1850's, by donating $15,000 to a restoration fund. She essentially saved the building and the site from becoming a parking lot. Upon her death, her estate was donated to continue work on the lovely Victoria Hall.

I won't go into too much detail because most of it can be found on Google, but, during her lifetime, Lenah was awarded the Canada medal, becoming a member of the Order of Canada, and she was Cobourg citizen of the year.
As I left the historic building, I had a new appreciation for the large entrance way/rotunda of the hall, named after Lenah in recognition of her work. I now look at the wall plaques, the art and the architecture, with new appreciation.

Northumberland News shared an interesting article on Lenah and the actress who created her likeness.

Cobourg activist Lenah Field Fisher comes to life in heritage avatar   (copy and paste - I can't figure out how else to make this work)

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