Margaret Westlake's lifelong passion now lives on at Magnus Theatre.
When her husband, Arnold, wanted to move to Thunder Bay in the 70s, part of the reason she agreed was because the city had a theatre. The Westlake's soon became actively involve in the community, Arnold becoming president of the board and Margaret taking the chair of the fundraising committee.
"It was simply part of her life when she was in Thunder Bay," Arnold said.
She fell in love with the stage in her teens and even convinced her son David to pursue a career in the business.
"After 30 years I'm not so sure he's thankful for the advice," Arnold joked at Magnus Thursday morning where it was announced that the theatre's debt would be paid off by the Westlake's in Margaret's name.
From now on theatre-goers will be heading into the Margaret Westlake Magnus Theatre Auditorium, a plaque overhead as they take their seats, to honour Margaret who passed away in 2012.
Artistic director Mario Crudo said he wished he could've met Margaret. And it's only right that a 16-year fundraising campaign for the theatre should come to end thanks to the support of a family that gave so much to the organization. Crudo said you couldn't ask for better people to be honoured.
"We're so pleased that it was Mr. Westlake who came forward to save the day for Magnus Theatre. It's so fitting," he said.
It was a great day for Crudo and company when they found out about the Westlake's donation, which is undisclosed but six figures.
"We were literally jumping for joy. You could hear us all when the news first came in," he said.
Magnus no longer has to use fundraising efforts for loan payments. Instead it can focus on the stage and youth programming.
"It will give us more freedom creatively and financially," Crudo said.
"It could mean shows with more actors. You know, it's no accident that occasionally we do shows with one or two actors."
Westlake and Crudo celebrated with a bit of theatrics themselves by lighting a symbolic mortgage on fire to great applause from the room. Crudo said it was a thrill for everyone to be able set "that damn debt," as the building's namesake Penny Petrone used to call it, ablaze.
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