The Chemainus Theatre Festival is saddened to announce that its founder, Kenneth O. Smith, passed away peacefully on November 14th, 2017 at the age of 90.
Ken was the driving force behind the founding and development of the Chemainus Theatre in 1993 and, with his wife Ruth, stood faithfully behind it, seeing it through to present-day maturity.
He was passionate about theatre and inspirational to artists and staff, while serving many years as Board Chair. Ken played a lead role in all of the Theatre’s campaigns and capital projects over the first 25 seasons – including the construction of the Theatre’s Production Centre and the development of the Chemainus Best Western Hotel.
Ken was the ultimate theatre angel; unwavering in his support and constantly brimming with vision and enthusiasm. He was gracious and kind, quick to offer his thanks and words of encouragement, and would always encourage Theatre management to “dream big.”
Ken’s substantial impact on the arts and artists in BC carries on through the creative and artistic role Chemainus Theatre Festival plays in the arts and culture sector. The Theatre has grown to become the third largest producing theatre in British Columbia, drawing 75,000 theatre goers per year. Over its first 25 seasons, over 4,000 artists, actors and directors have worked at Chemainus Theatre while creating theatre for over 1.3 million attendees.
Ken’s legacy stretches beyond Chemainus Theatre to include instrumental roles in the founding of Regent College at UBC, Pioneer Camps (Thetis Island and Chehalis), Honeymoon Bay Retreat Centre (Honeymoon Bay) and the Calling Foundation in Vancouver.
His last public outing was attending the Theatre’s 25th season celebration on June 23rd 2017 and we will forever cherish the long and enthusiastic standing ovation that the packed house gave Ken when his enormous contributions were recognized.
Rest peacefully, Ken. We will miss you and always be thankful for the impact you’ve had on our lives and the great opportunities that your faith and generosity have afforded us.