A look at the lives of two men from Lake Cowichan united by theatrical ties and who went off to carve out interesting careers in Canada.
In 1968, almost 20 years after moving to Lake Cowichan where he spent a year teaching at the high school and the next 18 as principal of Stanley Gordon Elementary School, Len Plater (and family) left Lake Cowichan for greener pastures.
His new position as associate of the Educational Foundation Centre at Simon Fraser University, North Burnaby, was defined as one that “assisted new teachers through their early teaching experience,” (Lake News May 8, 1968).
It was with some regret that the Platers left the Lake where they had raised their three children, Ted, Marion and Roy. Leading an active community life, the Platers were founding members of the local square dance club and also belonged to the Lake Cowichan Drama Club, with Len taking part in amateur theatre productions. He had a keen interest in gardening and found the Cowichan River “a constant source of pleasure,” (May 8, 1968 Lake News).
Born in Lloydminster, Alberta in 1915, Len passed away in Richmond, B.C. in December of 2003, two years after his wife Mary.
The first eating establishment in the 1940s era in the Smith Block building here in town was called Adrian’s Fountain Lunch.
Owner Adrian Pecknold, who sold the business a year later, served coffee, tea, sandwiches and light meals at the small café. The same location today, although eight times larger, has for several years been the home of the Shaker Mill Restaurant.
Addie Pecknold, wife of Adrian, taught for many years at Stanley Gordon Elementary School in Lake Cowichan, most often sharing a class with principal, Len Plater. The Pecknold children, David, Adrian and Susan attended local schools and went on to have children of their own.
Adrian’s greatest interest was the local amateur theatre group, then the Lake Cowichan Drama Club, where he and Addie were active. An accomplished actor, over the years he took part in numerous plays and drama festival events.
In 1961 he was awarded an apprenticeship to the Stratford, Ontario Shakespearean Festival. The prestigious award was the result of his performance as Arlecchino in the local drama club’s Italian comedy production, The Three Cuckolds. The highly acclaimed play, directed by Yvonne Green, was selected as British Columbia’s entry to the 1962 Dominion Drama Festival held back east.
Eventually the family moved to Ontario where Adrian gained fame and a great degree of accomplishment in his chosen field of mime. He studied the art of mime in Paris, then later joined a mime company as actor and instructor. He founded a professional mime company and the first Canadian Mime School. In 1982 he authored a book entitled Mime, The Step Beyond Words and also taught at Ryerson (university) Theatre School.
Of all his accomplishments, he was probably most well known for his creation and depiction of the mime character, Poco the Clown which, for many years appeared on the children’s Canadian television show, Mr. Dressup.
After a long and illustrious career where he had “long (been) considered one of Canada’s leading mime artists and teacher,” (Canadian Theatre Review, No. 96, Fall 1988), Pecknold, born in 1920, succumbed to cancer.
A service in his memory was held on Sept. 3, 1999 in Fonthill, Ontario (source Yvonne Green papers).