Janet Wilkinson is back with her third play for the Collingwood Gaslight Tour later this month. Photo by John Knox

About 130 years ago, Collingwood residents were preparing to open the town’s first hospital, thanks in part to the work of one local woman.

The story of Eliza Lett inspired one of this year’s Gaslight Tour playwrights to tell her story.

Janet Wilkinson has written her third play for the tour.

Her play about Lett is called The Legacy and tells of her life as the widow of Reverend Stephen Lett and her work to organize and support the fundraising campaign for the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. She contributed her own money, financing a new wing of the hospital in honour of her late husband.

“I was fascinated by what I learned during my initial research into her life and the work she did on behalf of the hospital,” said Wilkinson.

When Lett died, her body lay in state at All Saints Anglican Church and the flag at the town hall was lowered to half-mast. According to Wilkinson, the flag had only been lowered once before, and that was when Queen Victoria died.

“The more I’ve read and learned about Collingwood’s history, the more I’ve come to understand the impact women have had on our community,” said Wilkinson. “Collingwood has been shaped by strong, creative, determined, unique women – as much as it’s been shaped by many capable men. In the past, women’s stories often were overlooked, but I find them compelling and inspiring.”

The theme of this year’s Gaslight Tour is Collingwood’s Herstory, and features four plays written by women about women who played different roles in Collingwood’s history.

Wilkinson said Lett’s story and her play come at an interesting time when the current G&M Hospital is working toward a redevelopment plan that will likely include a new hospital in the next decade. In Wilkinson’s play, the residents of Collingwood are on the brink of opening the town’s first hospital.

This will be her fourth year involved with the Gaslight Tour, an event she said shows off Collingwood’s vibrant side.

“The tour is the perfect blend of art, entertainment and history,” said Wilkinson.

Oct 6, 2019 8:00 AM By: Erika Engel www.collingwoodtoday.ca/