Theatres and bookstores abound in Peterborough, Ontario

I’ve been focusing attention on Peterborough, Ontario lately, scouring the ‘bushes’ for local literary ‘things to do and places to visit’. First point to make is that there are way more theatre companies here than you might expect, four at least. One of them, the Peterborough Theatre Guild has in fact been entertaining local audiences since 1965. The only troupe in the region to own its own building, the Guild traces its roots back to the work of Robertson Davies and his wife Brenda. According to Michael Peterman, professor emeritus at Trent University, the two were theatrical power-houses in the community during the 50s and 60s, writing, directing, and performing in many stage productions. Sometimes they even did makeup!

Another company, 4th Line Theatre, presents Canadian plays, “written by and about Canadians, from small town stories to broad national sagas” at Winslow Farm, the family farm of Founding Artistic Director Robert Winslow, in Millbrook, Ontario. Performed in an idyllic, rural, setting, the plays typically explore “regional themes, history, and heritage”. This award-winning company is a top draw on the Canadian summer theatre circuit.

In addition to live performance theatre, the region also features an impressive selection of used bookstores. In most cities the size of Peterborough you’ll find one, maybe two shops if you’re lucky. Here there are at least six. And like their owners,

(whoa, wait a minute, this isn’t a bookstore owner, it’s Thomas A. Stewart [1786-1847] husband to famed local letter writer Frances) each, (of the stores that is), has a distinct character: from cluttered and dusty to clean and pristine, high-brow to low and everything in between, there’s enough of a variety of books in the downtown core to keep book-hounds happy for days.

But wait there’s more. Once you’ve browsed ‘book row’ (on Water Street), and below, on George, you’ll want to head out to Lakefield, a short drive North of Peterborough, past Trent University’s Bata Library and its rare book collection, to Lakefield Station Books.

Though it’s closed during the winter months, it’s always open by appointment. Trillium Books is another By Appointment dealer. Its owner William Van Nest not only sells books, he convenes a ‘motley’ crew of bibliophiles every Friday afternoon at 3pm at Dreams of Beans, 138 Hunter West…and what better way to end up a busy week of hunting, than to show off your swag to an appreciative audience.

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