Our history begins in the 1950's with a theatre group called the Whitby Modern Players, who presented many fine plays, notably "Blithe Spirit" and other comedies. The group folded and there was a hiatus in theatre activity until 1957, at which time the Whitby Theatre Guild (W.T.G.) was born. With very little money in the kitty, ingenuity and inventiveness were tested when even the simplest set had to be built. In those days, W.T.G. presented their plays in the auditorium of the old Whitby Town Hall, which in former years was a well-known Vaudeville Theatre where Whitby audiences enjoyed many fine travelling road-shows. The very large stage offered nothing in the way of technical equipment except a row of foot-lights and an antiquated dimmer.
In the early Sixties the Town Hall was demolished to make way for the new headquarters of the Whitby Fire Dept.
Homeless, W.T.G. spent the next two years presenting plays in Church basements, the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital, and in High School auditoriums. In 1966, the federal government encouraged towns and cities across Canada to form Centennial Committees to choose a project that would be a permanent reminder of Canada's centennial in 1967. Whitby responded, and invited certain members of the community to form its committee. Whitby's Centennial Project was the former Ontario County Administration building. After extensive restructuring, the former Court-Room within the building was converted into a theatre, complete with a stage but no seating! The Town agreed to the use of the boxwood chairs which had to be borrowed from other rooms in the building each time a play was presented. For some make-shift lighting, 5 lb. jam tins complete with lamp-sockets were assembled and used as on-stage lighting until our group could afford proper equipment.
Our first proper theatre-type seating appeared courtesy of Famous Players who were demolishing one of their Hamilton theatres. The deal was, we could have two hundred seats for one dollar a piece - cash and carry! All we needed was a tractor-trailer. B+R Transport Whitby kindly donated the vehicle, but we had to supply a qualified driver. The deal was done. A small group went to Hamilton, and after unbolting the seats, loaded them and returned to Whitby in triumph. More volunteers were on hand to install those seats which served the theatre for twelve years until being replaced by new ones.
The name of the group was changed to Whitby Theatre Company which had to be dropped when our group was advised that the word "Company" would be mistaken for "profit-making". It was then decided that the name Whitby Courthouse Theatre (W.C.T.), which we continue to use to this day, would better reflect the community nature of our group and the historical significance of the theatre and building which we have called our home for over 35 years.