In 1955, a few members of the Men’s Club of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Lachine, in conjunction with the Church Choir, decided to present Gilbert &Sullivan’s “Trial by Jury” to the Montreal public. The production was so well received, a permanent operatic society was formed dedicated to productions of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas in the traditional manner.
St. Pauls’ Operatic Society was born in 1957. The first Music Director was Arthur Gough, the Church organist, and the first Stage Director was Doris Norris formerly of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company (London). She and her husband, Harry, were already well known to Montreal Gilbert & Sullivan audiences through their association with the Lyric Opera Company, Montreal West Operatic Society and various other musical groups. In 1969 and 1970, we branched away from Gilbert & Sullivan and presented “Merrie England” and “The Geisha” but in 1971, we returned to the productions of the Savoy operas and there we have remained.
By 1972, the society was incorporated as a non-profit corporation under the name of St. Paul’s Operatic Society Inc. In 1980, since we were no longer closely connected with St. Pauls’ Church, the corporate name was changed to Lakeshore Light Opera Inc. – La Société d’Opérette Lakeshore Inc.
For 42 years, the proceeds of our production have gone to the Lakeshore General Hospital (a local hospital serving the West-Island community of Montreal), through the Hospital Foundation. Our annual donations, totaling over $200,000, are used by the Hospital to purchase equipment not covered by its budget nor by Provincial grants. In the past, we have enabled the Hospital to purchase a ventilating hood for its laboratory, syringe pumps for the Obstetrics Department, word-processing equipment for its administration office, a special gurney for the Orthopedic Department, automatic intravenous equipment, etc. We are proud of our association with the Hospital and hope that our patrons can feel proud of the part they play in supporting our local hospital.