(City Councillors Carlos Garcia & Sandie Bellows join Mayor Walter Sendzik in presenting Norm Foster with the Key to the City - Melinda Cheevers/Metroland)
Three years ago, Norm Foster made his mark on St. Catharines when a theatre festival bearing his name debuted in the city’s downtown.
On Friday, ahead of the world première of Foster's latest play, Come Down From Up River, St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik presented the acclaimed Canadian playwright with the Key to the City.
“While Nova Scotia and the Maritimes may be an adopted home of Norm, when it comes to our community, he’s also adopted as one of our own,” said Sendzik during a gala event held before the play’s debut at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. “He was an Order of Canada recipient. In 2017, our country recognized his work as a playwright and the fact that Norm, you chose to call St. Catharines home for your festival, we would like to honour you with a key to our city.”
Sendzik, along with city councillors Sandie Bellows and Carlos Garcia, presented Foster with the framed skeleton key in front a large crowd of theatregoers. The key, he said, is bestowed to those whose significant contributions have reflected positively on the city.
(Kirsten Alter, Peter Krantz, Amanda Parsons, Come Down From Up River, 2018)
“Mr. Foster’s prolific body of work is revered as humorous, heartwarming and relevant to everyday tribulations of life. We honour his international success as an artist and celebrate the Foster Festival as a major contributor to the arts and culture of our community,” said Sendzik.
The Foster Festival debuted as a summer series at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in 2016, showcasing three Foster plays each season — including several world premières.
Foster was humbled by the presentation.
“This is wonderful. I was expecting a little house key,” he said, eliciting laughter from the crowd. “I’ve never had a key to the city before; I’ve had a key to a washroom in Tillsonburg. I really appreciate this.”
Foster said he fell in love with St. Catharines when they decided to start the festival in the city three years ago.
“I just love it. I can’t say enough about it,” he said, adding he was amazed by how the downtown has built up in the past three years. “This is a real honour. Thank you.”
With Friday’s presentation, Foster joins a small group of local leaders who have received the Key to the City from the sitting mayor of St. Catharines, including photographer Edward Burtynsky, former Brock president Jack Lightstone, businessman Tom Rankin and former professional baseball player Fergie Jenkins.belittled.
by Melinda Cheevers
Melinda Cheevers is a reporter for Niagara this Week covering north Niagara. She also edits Niagara Life magazine.
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