Titan of Cornwall’s theatre scene remembered

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
Titan of Cornwall’s theatre scene remembered
Lionel Tessier.

CORNWALL, Ontario – On Aug. 2, 2019, Cornwall lost one of the leading artists who helped grow its theatre scene into what it has become today. Lionel Tessier passed away at the Cornwall Community Hospital, he was 92.

Tessier spent many years working in theatre in Cornwall before there even really was an established theatre scene. In 2015, he was inducted into Cornwall’s Arts Hall of Fame.

“Lionel enjoys the well-deserved reputation as a theatre visionary, mentor, director and actor,” reads Tessier’s biography in the Cornwall Arts Hall of Fame. “He was a champion for the preservation of the Capitol Theatre. He led the “Save the Capitol Theatre” committee which kept the lights on and the seats filled, 1978 -1986.”

Tessier was chair of the Eastern Ontario Drama League and of Glen Productions, he also sat on the board of the Upper Canada Playhouse. On three occasions, Tessier adjudicated the Sears Drama Festival.

Tessier’s longtime friend and fellow Cornwall Art Hall of Fame inductee Edith Stiles remembered him as a good man with a passion for plays.

“He was such a nice guy, you could have a lot of fun with him,” she said.

“It is not very often that someone can act in a play and direct a play and run a play like My Fair Lady,” said Stiles. “He made a big impact on the theatre and the arts both on and off the stage.”

Stiles, who met Tessier after she came to Cornwall at the end of the Second World War, said that at that time, there were very few plays being produced in Cornwall.

“Before the Cornwall Little Theatre and the Glen, he directed plays annually for St. Columbans Church,” she said. “We all had to put our shoulders to the wheel years and years ago because there was nothing then but the yearly play the Catholic Church put on.”

As expressions of sympathy, Memorial Donations to Hospice Cornwall would be appreciated by the family of Lionel Tessier.

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