Verse and Drama

In the decades since 1952, awards have been donated by organizations and individuals wishing to encourage participation in speech arts and drama. The original purpose of some awards changed to reflect new interests in the community.

It is traditional for members of Beta Sigma Phi Sororities world wide to learn about and sponsor arts and cultural events in their communities. In 1956 the Kenora Beta Sigma Phi (Exemplar Chapter) offered a trophy for English verse speaking (grades 1 to 8). It was awarded in 1959 to Beverly Saranchuk, in 1960 to Elizabeth Barnard, in 1961 to Paul Jackson and Christina Palipowski, in 1962 to Rochelle Lamm and in 1963 to Maureen Hayes. The sorority did not continue with English verse.

In 1964 the Durance Trophy was awarded for English verse grades 4-8 to Melanie Barnard (1964) and Heather Noble (1965).

One Act Plays had three sponsors. The Salisbury House Trophy for Drama (grade 10 to Adult) was introduced in 1956. Originally for individuals , it was won by Julia Cowey in 1959 and Veronica Kirk in 1964 before being offered to senior high school. It was awarded to the Dryden Drama Group (1965), Thomas Balka (1969), and Beaver Brae Drama Club (1980). It was not offered after 1985.

The Paramount Theatre Shield was donated in 1960 by Mr. Joseph Derry, owner of the local Paramount Theatre, for one act plays by elementary students in grades 1-6. It was won 12 times – Northward (1960), Evergreen (1961), Mount Carmel (1962), Keewatin (1963), Jr. Theatre Group (1964), Pinecrest (1969), Southward (!972,1974,1976 and 1978), Northward (1980) and by Mount Carmel in 1982, the last year a play was entered. In 1988 this award was offered to individuals for English verse speaking and by 1998 for grades (9 and 10). Eight winners were recorded by 2019 – Wendy Marcine (1988), Ainsley Rice (1989), Stephen Sweeney (1991), Julia Bonnefoy (1993), Brian Peck (1995), Amanda Lindsay (2001), Jodi Larson (2007), and Micaela McIsaac (2011).

The Pharmacy Shield was donated in 1961 by local pharmacies for one act plays (grades 7-9). It was won 7 times – North Ward School (1961), Junior Drama Class (April Holland) in 1962, Junior Drama Class (Audrey Atkinson) in 1963, Red Lake High School (1965), Mary Balka (1969), Mary Balka and Beth Brooks (1970), and Lakewood School (1978). This was the last year a play was entered. The Shield was offered to individuals for English verse speaking in 1988 and has been won by these 14 students in grade 8 – Jill Ormiston (1988), Margo Pearce and Eleanor McDonell (1989), Amy Tegg (1991), Julia Beveridge (1993), Anthony Silva (1995), Matthew Kennedy (1999), Brandi Milko and Jennie Young (2001), Liz Wilson (2003), Jodi Larson (2005), Adrian Boivin (2007), Lauren Mack (2011), and Ben Desanghere (2015).

Three more trophies were donated in the sixties to encourage groups and individuals to perform.

The Honourable Thomas N. Rivers Trophy for public speaking (grades 6-9) was donated by his daughter, Veronica Kirk. A public school teacher, she had entered many classes in the festival as well as being very active in little theatre. From 1965 to 1997 the Rivers Trophy was awarded 13 times. The winners were Randy Barnard (1965), Kim Hakenson (1966), Mary Balka (1967), Cynthia Robinson (1968), Wayne Baker (1969), Edward Balka (1970), Rosemarie Komm (1972), Neil Brooks (1974), Christine Balka (1980), Ronalee Baker (1982), Lee Ann Gryschuk (1987), Michel Olson and Tania Olson (1989), and in 1997, Matthew Kennedy.

The Janet Carruthers Memorial Choral Scripture Speaking Award was first introduced in 1966. By 2007 it had been awarded 17 times to both choral groups and individuals. The winners were Mount Carmel School (1966), Pinecrest School (1972), Lucia Melnick (1979-1981 and 1983), Ronalee Baker (1982), Christine Balka (1984), Lucia Melnick (1986 and 1987), Jill Ormiston (1989), Jillie Retson (1991), Jillie and Julia Retson (1993), Jillie Retson (1995), Leshia Knopf (2003), and Michaela Taylor (2007).

The Kenora District Women’s Institute Shield was offered to grades 6, 7 and 8 for choral speaking in 1967. By 1982 it had been won 9 times – St. Louis and Pinecrest Schools (1967),Keewatin School (1969 and 1970), St Thomas Aquinas (1972 and 1982), Mt. Carmel School (1974 and 1978), Our Lady of the Valley School (1978 and 1980).

In 1966, the Knights of Columbus donated the Monsignor Hebert Trophy for individual English verse speaking at the grades 7-9 level. It 1998 it became the Grade 7 individual award. There have been 31 winners.*

The Ukrainian Literary Society, in 1974, offered an award to students in grades 4-6 for public speaking but by 1982 it was used for individual English verse speaking and in 1998 it became the Grade 6 individual award. In 2011 the original trophy disappeared so a new plaque was ordered. Records of the 24 winners begin with1982.*

In the seventies, French verse speaking was introduced to the festival and trophies appeared.

The Oblate Fathers Trophy for grades 7-9 French verse individual was donated in 1970 and was supported by the local priest serving at Notre Dame church until 2006. There were 27 winners.* In 1998 it was reserved for grade 7 students. In 2007 J.P.Jones donated a new trophy to carry on an award for grade 7 students. It honoured Ann and Emile Blouin for their years of interest and involvement in the festival and the arts. It has not yet had a winner.

In 1976 the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority was approached to offer a trophy for French verse, grades 5 and 6. It was awarded to Sherri Mosioner (1976), Ronalee Baker (1978), Lee Sprague (1979), Michael Ryan Hanstead (1980), and Jennifer Mash (1981).

In 1982 this sorority agreed to sponsor a second trophy for French verse.

The Beta Sigma Phi (Ontario Tau) Trophy would be for grade 5 (grade 9/10 since 1998) . The society withdrew their sponsorship in 2010 but continued to donate to the festival in general. In 2012 the festival assumed sponsorship of this trophy, now called the Kenora District Festival of the Arts Award. Winners were Mary Ann Simmundson (1982), Alison Roberts (1983), Duncan McDonell (1984), Sarah Brown (1985),Robbie McNichol (1986), Shari Morken and Leah Sander (1987), Leah DeGagne and Angela Dufresne (1988), Terra Vanesse and Jillie Retson !990), Joey Gala and April Favreau (1992), Allison Sweeney (1994), Julia Beveridge (1998), Kendall Behrsin (2000), Charlotte McDonald (2002), Adrian Boivin (2008), and in 2016, Madeleine Graham.

The Beta Sigma Phi (XI EPSILON NU) Trophy would be for grade 6. In 2017 this sorority disbanded due to dwindling membership. Winners were Greg Lecian (1982), Sheila Therrien (1983), James Callan (1984), Frank Hendrickson (1985), Barbara Lee Scott (1986), Lori Brinkman (1987), Shari Morken (1988), Sarah Roy (1990), Shauna Williams (1992), Debbie Girard (1994), Rebecca Daly (1996), Drew Penner, Heather Scott, and Sarah Gorham (1998), Hannah Beveridge (2000), Rebecca Penner (2002), Samantha Makl and Stephanie Adams (2004), Kelsey Demontigny (2006), Robin Bowes and Micaela McIsaac (2008),Kimberly Korobanik (2010), Jesse McIsaac (2014), Sophia Trask and Daisy Wagenaar (2016), and in 2018, Molly Hendy.

The Catholic Women’s League in Keewatin donated the Sister Bernadin Trophy in 1980 as an individual award for French verse grade 4 (grade 8 since 1998). The trophy was presented to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Sister Bernadin joining the Order of Holy Names. The sister, a teacher at St. Louis and Mount Carmel Schools, had been supportive of the festival and each year had entered many students. There have been 20 winners – Jeffrey Fedus and Laurel Alfisser (1980), Shannon Stack (1981), Erin DeGagne (1983), Sarah Brown (1984), Rhonda Saunders (1985), Shari Morken (1986), Braden Cross (1987), Sara Roy (1988), Tara Collinson (1990), Julia Bonnefoy (1992), Rebecca Daly (1994 and 1998), Sage McBride (1996), Amanda Lindsay (2000), Emily Port (2002), Rebecca Penner (2004), Micaela McIsaac (2010), and in 2012,Jordyn Roffe and Matilda White.

In the 1990’s there were two changes to the individual verse section. It was decided to hold French and English in alternate years beginning in 1990 (French) and 1991 (English). In 1998 trophies were no longer awarded to the lower grades of 4 and 5 and were reassigned to the higher grades of 6-10.

The Bev Adams Creative English Award was donated in 1985 by Beverly Adams who grew up in Kenora. After living in Montreal for many years and enjoying its cultural life, she returned to Kenora and became involved in the arts again. Some may remember her encouragement of “Theatre on the Harbour Front”. As a minor trophy, this was awarded 9 times- Mary Anne Simundson (1985 and 1996), Catriona Coats (1987 and 1988), Becky Sajo (1991), Nora Baker Lavoie (1993 and 1995), A.J.Marsh (1997), and Nora Baker Lavoie (1999). In 2001, this became a major trophy for individuals in grades 7-10 who compete in the four required classes mentioned in the Syllabus. The Bev Adams Dramatic Arts Trophy was won four times- Emily Anne Port (2002), Ellie Christine Sawatzy (2003), Jodi Larson (2004) and Kylie Anne Hissa (2007). The Dramatic Arts Trophy was offered after Bev Adams’ death until 2009. The TryLight Theatre Company agreed to sponsor a new trophy. The TryLight Theatre Trophy has been awarded twice – Lauren Mack (2010) and Jonah Grienke (2017).

The Dramatic Arts Rose Bowl is offered to individuals in senior high school and beyond who compete in the five required classes mentioned in the Syllabus.*

* The winners of these trophies are listed in the Appendix.