Our History

“I have been watching, with great interest, the development of the Shatford Centre. My great Grandfather, Lytton W. Shatford, for whom the school had been named, would be so proud! I am also brimming with pride, as are his other grandchildren at the continuation of his name in such a lovely and worthwhile endeavour.”

(click the year for more info)
+ Expand All


Our Story Begins...


Okanagan Summer School of the Arts


Shatford Centre Renovations


Shatford Centre Opens

One of the Okanagan School of the Arts Founders’

osa_8On the occasion of the presentation of the Diplome d’honneur 1988 By Dr. Shirley Thomson, National Gallery of Canada In the Auditorium of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Saturday, June 4, 1988

“Eva Cleland is a pioneer in the development of the arts in Canada. Her vision, leadership and determination have been a major force in the flowering of the arts throughout the province of British Columbia.

Eva arrived in the Okanagan as a “Chatagua Girl” in 1928, as the first professional arts administrator to stay and work in the Okanagan. She did so in the firm belief that the residents of the interior of the province should have access to the whole range arts activities. After work and study in New York with the National Music League. Eva settled in Penticton as Mrs. Hugh Cleland. Over the past 60 years she has been instrumental in the information and continued success of a wide range of events and organizations such as the Okanagan Valley Music Festival, Penticton Branch; the Penticton and District Community Arts Council:the Okanagan Mainline Regional Arts Council, a model for B.C.; the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra: the Okanagan arm of the Community Concert Society and a unique project, “Okanagan Image”, a travelling visual and performing arts event which commissioned works and visited parts of the province, setting an example for regional project work. Following publication of the Massey Report in 1951.Eva participated in the B.C. Arts Resource Conferences at U.B.C. Thereafter she pursued an arts policy for B.C. and in 1973 was a vocal member of arts access at Simon Fraser University, which brought about radical changes in the cultural scene in the province. In the last five years with undiminished energy. She has formed the Penticton Arts Development Fund Society, the Penticton Junior Strings and Adult Strings and in 1987, a music school in conjunction with Okanagan Symphony musicians and the Okanagan Summer School of the Arts.

Eva’s refusal to allow anything to defeat her vision is legendary and as a store of archival material, her own memories are priceless. She is a catalyst, always searching for avenues of support, encouraging people to become participants and promoting opportunities for artists to develop and find their audiences. ”Educate” is probably one of her most often used words. Eva Cleland exemplifies what can be done by a volunteer in furthering the cultural life and opportunities in a community. Her husband, Hugh is proud of her, her family is proud of her, her community’s proud of her and her Arts Council is proud to have their nominee receive the Diplôme d’ honneur. Canada’s most prestigious arts award, an expression of honour from artists to those who have made an exceptional contribution to the encouragement of the arts in Canada over a prolonged period of time.”

Written by Bonnie Ross

George GayA Tribute to the late George Gay, with us in spirit
In the records of the school from 1959 when Frank Laird first floated the idea of asking UBC to establish one or more of their Fine Arts course in Penticton until present, one name echoes persistently. George Gay started with the school early and filled many roles during pivotal and exciting times. In spite of nay sayers during the 1959-60 birth pangs of the school, it was decided to set up a Directorate that would include eight Penticton citizens and two from each outlying community in the region. Mr. George Gay was on that Directorate with the likes of Kitty Wilson, Frank Laird and Edith Sharp. Gay’s name does not appear on the roster for the first Board of Director’s meeting (Friday, March 18, 1960.) He was instead appointed Director (Principal) of the Okanagan Summer School of Fine Arts for which he would receive an honorarium. Instructors were lined up and George Gay was at the helm, a role that suited him well.

George Gay taught Social Studies and was the Boys Counselor at Pen High. In fact, in 1947, he was the only counselor at Pen High. It was a changeable time, the early days of social work as we know it and Gay joined Anna Mason, Senior Public Health Nurse and Jean Benest, Social Worker as part of the original Okanagan liaison group back when social services was part of the Health and Welfare Department. Gay was a leader concerned with the health and welfare of the community and willing to put action to his beliefs.

Interestingly, Mr. Gay received many honours over the years, but few if any are mentioned in the records. The focus may reveal something of the man. People write about his works, his actions and his praise of others. This speaks to a generous humble man. He took great delight in the successes around him. He was pleased when the Expo ’70 Band was honored “because we sounded so good and looked so good” when the band was featured on National TV in Japan. Part of the overall music program’s success was in part due to the hostel. Started in ’63 for band camp, it was carried on for years and George Gay was credited as key in the successful management of the hostel.

George did not take a laissez faire approach to the position. Of a hectic three week stint in 1971, he wrote: I tried to see, even in passing, every instructor at least once a day . . . [to] forestall complaints: Each morning I called in at the Penticton Herald to feed materials . . . ; Each morning I appeared for a 5 minute “slot” on Cal Georg’s program on CKOk” He also took an active interest in the K’san carvers who were working on a Totem Pole at the bandshell. He summed the experience up as “a rewarding Summer School with a happy atmosphere generally among both instructors and students.” Reading into George’s comments, we see a capable administrator, marketer, mediator, leader and cheerleader at large.

George was married to Bev Gay a well known mainstay of the community for many years. In his last year on the board of directors, the last of almost 40 unbroken years of service, both Bev and George were on the board of directors. His son Errol Gay pursued music ultimately achieving his Doctorate,taught at the school as an assistant conductor and followed a path that took him to many prestigious performances and conducting opportunities. At one poin, he worked on a production with his wife Ann Cooper-Gay who also taught at the school in 1986. I can just imagine the pride George and Bev felt. George Gay has passed through the veil, but remains with us in the record, in memory and particularly in spirit: a legacy to be honoured and celebrated.

Shatford Centre & the Okanagan School of the Arts Come Together

The Shatford building on the Pen High Campus was built in 1921 and named the Senator Shatford in honor of Senator Lytton W Shatford, who died that year.

When the new Penticton Secondary School was being designed, there was a huge outcry at the thought of demolishing the Shatford and Ellis buildings. In 2004, the City of Penticton agreed to take over the Senator Shatford building for community use and the Ellis was incorporated into the new school design.

The Okanagan Summer School of the Arts (OSSA) began in 1961 with visionary arts and culture pioneers, including Eva Cleland and George Gay. At the same time, these visionaries also established the Penticton & District Arts Council and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. OSSA began its summer programs on the Pen Hi Campus in the 60’s and 50 years later, the Okanagan School of the Arts came back to its roots and its new ‘bricks and mortar home’, the Shatford Centre. This has been a robust creative community project with a wealth of history, legacies and visionaries.