In January 1928 a barn stood at what is now 244 St Andrew St. in Fergus. Six months later, on August 28th, the head of MGM Louis B. Mayer sent a telegram to Sam Fardella, wishing him great success on the opening night of the new Fergus Grand Theatre.
Dr. Abraham Groves, speaking at the opening of the theatre, said “We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Fardella for the public spirit he has shown, and I know that we all trust and hope that the future will bear for the Grand Theatre a most satisfactory, happy, and gratifying return.” Dr. Groves added that as long as Mr. Fardella brought good pictures to his theatre, it would exert an influence for good in the community.
Cable television pioneer Jake Milligan bought the building in the late 1960s. The theatre became the home of the local cable studio, and the front of the building was used as an electronics shop. In the early 1980’s the theatre portion of the building was restored and began to show live performances. Elora Community Theatre, which continues to present plays at FGT, was one of the first community groups to use the theatre space.
In the early 1990’s Hugh and Lorraine Drew-Brook bought the building after the cable company moved to a new location. Theatre on the Grand, a resident professional summer theatre company, began using the building in 1993.
When Theatre on the Grand ceased operations in the summer of 2003 the Township of Centre Wellington became owner and operator of the building, reinstating its original name, the Fergus Grand Theatre. In 2009 the Township began refurbishing the theatre, giving it a new roof, new heating and cooling systems, and new seats, as well as modernizing the lighting and sound equipment. In a nod to the building’s original purpose a large screen and rear projection system was also added, in order to show films at the theatre once again.
The building was awarded a Heritage Building designation in 2011 to protect the original tin ceiling in the auditorium, the terrazzo floors and five leaded glass transom windows in the lobby, as well as the stone exterior. The Fergus Grand Theatre is now poised to become a leader in the Centre Wellington arts community and beyond, as a perfect venue for a variety of arts and culture events.
This unique venue celebrates its 85th birthday in 2013, and thanks to the support and foresight of a community committed to the arts it is now set to continue providing the people of Centre Wellingtong with a “most satisfactory, happy and gratifying return” for many years to come.