It began with a group of Summerside citizens who had a vision to create a state of the art performing arts facility for Prince County. Years of tireless planning and fundraising ensued. The non-profit Regional Cultural Events Centre Inc. was formed to administer fundraising, and The Summerside Regional Development Corporation would be the body to construct and operate the Wyatt Centre which would house, along with the pre-existing Eptek Centre and the PEI Sports Hall of Fame, a 520-seat theatre.
Generous support was garnered from government, the business community, and many private citizens. The major contributor, after whom the building was named, was The Wyatt Foundation, representing well-known Summerside citizen and patron of the arts, Dr. Wanda Wyatt. The foundation made an initial donation of $500,000 and matched subsequent contributions to the tune of an additional half million dollars. More than a decade from its inception, the vision became reality on July 10, 1996 as the curtain rose on opening night of Jamboree – A Maritime Musical Revue (written by Jamie Bradley). “Harbourfront Jubilee Theatre” was born.
Today we are known simply as Harbourfront Theatre, although many still, and probably always will, affectionately refer to us as “The Jubliee.”
A year-round, state of the art, multidisciplinary theatre, Harbourfront is a charitable, not for profit organization guided by the following principles:
Our Theatre, Your Theatre
To encourage and nurture the development and appreciation of the performing arts on PEI.
To be a significant driving force in the community by showcasing local and touring productions year round for the entertainment of Islanders and visitors.
Harbourfront Theatre has been home to a host of memorable musical and theatrical productions, including:
- Jamboree — A Maritime Musical Revue
- Maritime Star
- Don Messer’s Violin and Don Messer’s Jubilee
- Anne & Gilbert
- Forever Plaid
- The Ballad of Stompin’ Tom
Beyond its many summer seasons, Harbourfront has welcomed a wealth of local, regional and world renowned talent to its stage throughout the years. Island schools and dance academies have performed plays, concerts and recitals year after year. PEI household names like Kendra, Bruce & Boomer, Catherine MacLellan, Barachois, The Ellis Family Band, Fiddlers’ Sons, Jericho Road, Meaghan Blanchard, Lennie Gallant and many more have played solo and variety shows and festivals. A plethora of touring acts across many disciplines and genres have entertained Harbourfront audiences, from mainstream popular, country and folk to classical music, ballet, opera, comedy, contemporary dance. Some of these notable names include iconic Canadian artists like Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan, Natalie MacMaster, Alan Doyle, Ron James, Buffy Ste. Marie, April Wine, The Irish Rovers, Jim Cuddy, Liona Boyd, Fred Penner, and Tommy Hunter, and some of Nashville’s legends, including Mel Tillis, Roy Clark, Bill Anderson, Mickey Gilley and Marty Stuart. Also fondly remembered are many artists who are part of Harbourfront’s history and have since passed on, including Rita MacNeil, John Allen Cameron, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Mr. Dressup, Stuart MacLean, Kitty Wells, Angele Arsenault, Stan Carew, and Ron Hynes.
Harbourfront Theatre respectfully acknowledges that Epekwitk (Prince Edward Island) is located in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. The Epekwitnewaq Mi’kmaq have occupied this Island for over 12,000 years. We honour the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” which recognized Mi’kmaq rights and established an ongoing relationship between nations. We are all Treaty People.
We also gratefully acknowledge the generous financial support of the Government of Canada, the Province of Prince Edward Island and the City of Summerside.