John Ennis, Maggie and Beckie, Margaret, Mary Elizabeth, Jane Hopkins and myself went to Lanark Village for the 5 cent readings. There were 400-500 locals present and the entertainment was very good. John Code- with files from A Perth Boy in the Wild West-David Code
Appleton, Ontario-April 17 1874–Almonte Gazette
We have succeeded against considerable opposition in establishing a series of *penny readings. When they were first proposed the minority of the old folks sat in council at their own firesides and passed the following resolution :
“Whereas once upon a tune there was a Temperance Society organized in this place, and whereas said Temperance Society ended in a courting school and was thereby productive of harm to our young people, and whereas we have come to the conclusion that the readings contemplated will end likewise; Therefore be it resolved, that we discountenance them— Carried.”
Penny Readings were given periodically in Lanark County. There were travelling showmen, ventriloquists, slight of hand experts, magicians, acrobats all came, performed at a price, and passed on, contributing to the entertainment of the moment.
The best thing about the Penny Readings was its mutuality, it was a method of communal communal self-help. The person who was to take part as a performer attended for the greater part of the evening as a member of the audience. The effect upon the people as a whole was the strengthening of the bonds of neighbour lines.
There was a decidedly educational effect in the efforts that each prospective performer made in order to perfect his understanding of what he was to read and his powers powers as an elocutionist to “put it over” so that his audience might be both instructed and impressed. It requires no such preparation to watch the movies or turn the knob of a radio.
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