Betty Lampard: St. Catharines’ first drama critic

Betty Lampard

Born in New York City, Betty’s interest in all things entertainment began at a young age. She was the daughter of a hotel manager and her parents had many friends and acquaintances in the theatre world, which provided their daughter with many opportunities to attend concerts, plays and the opera in the City. Following her graduation from Horace Mann School, Betty completed undergraduate studies at Skidmore College, majoring in English with a minor in music.

She completed her studies in 1931, with an eye towards pursuing a career in journalism. However, the economic troubles and uncertainty caused by the Great Depression meant journalism jobs for women were in short supply. Betty worked for a short time as a personal shopper at Saks Fifth Avenue, until her marriage to St. Catharines native Geoffrey Lampard in 1934.

It wasn’t until 1950 when Betty began working at The Standard, reporting on fashion trends and society news. She quickly expanded her repertoire to include arts and entertainment topics and by 1953, she had a regular column entitled “World of Music and Stage”. As the Entertainment Editor, Betty covered music and theatre for the paper as far afield as Toronto and Stratford. Unsurprisingly, she was also involved with local arts and cultural organizations, notably the St. Catharines Symphony Orchestra (later the Niagara Symphony) and was an early supporter of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“We were well amused” – below is just one of many theatrical reviews Betty wrote for The St. Catharines Standard. This review of “Personal Appearance” appeared in the paper in 1953.

1953-5-2

To learn more about Betty Lampard and other pioneering women of St. Catharines, visit our Leading the Way exhibit, on display at the Museum through December, 2016.

Meredith Leonard is the Visitor Services Coordinator at the St. Catharines Museum & Welland Canals Centre.

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