The making of The Philanthropist: Part I

“Philanthropy coming full circle.”

jeffery hale.jpg
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Jeffery Hale, who died in 1864 and bequeathed £9,000 to build the hospital named after him, is the central character in The Philanthropist, a multimedia theatre event that will take place at CEGEP Champlain–St. Lawrence’s new Student Centre at the end of August.

Curious as to how this multimedia theatre event came to be, the QCT recently met with Jeffery Hale Community Partners foundations’ director Mike Boden, who created the original work.

Boden explained, “This has been a project that has been two-and-a-half years in the making. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide I was going to write a play. I’m not a writer nor have I ever been in the theatre business. It was more the aligning of three events, that brought it to here.

“First was the restoration of the Jeffery Hale gravesite in Royal Tunbridge Wells, England. The Friends of the Woodbury Park Cemetery reached out to us to help finance the restoration of the Hale gravesite. Our foundation gave them a symbolic donation of £9,000, to return the original sum of money that Jeffery Hale left for the building of the Jeffery Hale Hospital. We also raised money from other community organizations to help commemorate Jeffery Hale at the Woodbury Park cemetery in England.

“The second was the 150th anniversary of the Jeffery Hale Hospital, last year. There is a Hale monument in Mount Hermon Cemetery of which Jeffery Hale was a cofounder. We thought it would be a good idea to memorialize his name at Mount Hermon Cemetery and link the two cemeteries and the two cities. We made a YouTube video that people can watch online. Just do a search for Jeffery Hale 150th Ceremonies 2016.

“Then there was The Jeffery Hale Foundation’s commitment to the theatre part of the new student centre at St. Lawrence College, to be used for community events. That’s why we invested in that building. That was the foundation’s single largest donation ever – $1 million. The official launch of that building will be on August 24, the first day of the multi-media presentation.

Before going to the Woodbury Park Cemetery to present them with a cheque for their restoration project, Boden said, “I had very little knowledge of Jeffery Hale. I just knew that he was buried there. I started doing some research so I wouldn’t be going there not knowing anything. It was easy to find out who his father and mother were, then I found letters written between family members. And I thought, this is a really interesting story. Just the family part. Who was Jeffery Hale? Where did he come from? How was he able to leave money to start a hospital? An 1851 city directory showed a lot of the organizations he was tied to in Quebec City.”

To dig even deeper Boden brought in the expertise of historian Patrick Donovan. As the picture started to unfold, Boden thought, “We have to tell this interesting story. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could show this presentation as the inaugural show at the St. Lawrence College amphitheatre (Student Centre) which The Jeffery Hale Foundation donated a million dollars to build. This is like philanthropy coming full circle.

“Nobody really knows a lot about Jeffery Hale, and after 150 years I think it’s time he gets some kind of honour, even though I don’t think he was a man who was looking for that. He was very humble. The timing was perfect with all of these things aligning at the same time.”

The multimedia project is a joint community project, produced by a team put together at Jeffery Hale Community Partners. Cheryl Rimmer was brought on board as the project manager.

Four shows will be presented at St. Lawrence which will also give the community an opportunity to see the new student complex. This is an opportunity to learn about our heritage and a humanitarian that helped shape our city.
The Philanthropist may be more than two months away, but tickets ($15) may be reserved now at or by calling 418 684-5333 ext. 1384. The shows are on August 24 to 27. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and there will be a cash bar. The Sunday, August 27, show is at 2 p.m. with a cash bar at 1 p.m.

For more information and to order tickets, visit....