Small towns, big stories…

What do a whale skeleton, an eccentric millionaire, hillside ghosts, an historic ship, a pimple, and a canoe fit for a queen have in common? They’re all part of legendary true stories from communities across Eastern Ontario.

The Ontario Festival of Small Halls captured some of those incredible tales as part of a new project, Small Halls Stories.

Since its inception, the Ontario Festival of Small Halls has celebrated the spirit and heart of small-town Ontario. The Festival plants inspired, decorated and mind-blowing artists into rural halls across Eastern Ontario each fall. Music lovers witness these intimate shows and create life-long memories of small town hospitality uniting with captivating performers from all across Canada.

To that end, Small Halls set out to record some of the stories that swirl through the beloved communities where the concerts take place. The festival sought out stories of past events, historical or recent; of a defining moment, of an occasion, or of a person.

The stories were told by people within the community. These local storytellers were then professionally recorded and their stories evolved into a series of a dozen tales from across Eastern Ontario that are now broadcast online as a podcast through Spotify, as well as through the Festival’s social media.

Keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for individual community story spotlights!

Produced by the Ontario Festival of Small Halls. Hosted by Jessa Runciman. Engineered by Hugo Sabourin. Opening and closing song, “Fool” by Basia Bulat. Concept by Rosanne Lake and Kelly Symes.

  • Story of the Magedoma, told by Bryan Porter in Brockville, ON
  • Story of Harry McLean, told by Omar Simonyi in Merrickville, ON
  • Story of the Elgin Quarries, told by Jane Campbell and Joe Fahey in Elgin, ON
  • Story of Red George MacDonnell, told by Richard Sheridan Willis in Prescott, ON
  • Connected by Canoe, told by James Raffan in Seeley’s Bay, ON
  • Story of Tree Fishing, told by Neil Patterson in Chaffey’s Lock, ON
  • Story of the Gaelic Ghosts, told by James Joyce in Dunvegan, ON
  • Story of Crawford Slack, told by Mary-Rae Knapp in Athens, ON
  • Story of the First All Women’s Municipal Council, told by Evan Morton in Tweed, ON
  • Story of the Pakenham Whale, told by Fern Martin, Pakenham, ON
  • Story of the Morton Pimple, told by David Boyd, Morton, ON