Culture Summerside, a division of the City of Summerside, operates with the mandate of promoting, preserving, and celebrating the city’s rich culture. Summerside’s cultural mandate began with Wyatt Heritage Properties and since 2000 has grown to include additional sites, partnerships, and the development of year-round public programming. In 2012, the name Culture Summerside was adopted to recognize, manage, and celebrate the diversity and scope of the work undertaken by the cultural division.
Wyatt Heritage Properties
Wanda Lefurgey Wyatt understood the importance of arts, heritage, and culture in the building of strong communities in which people wish to live, work, and play. Through infrastructure and financial support, she encouraged their growth and appreciation in her beloved town of Summerside. In 1966, she purchased her Lefurgey grandparents’ home on Prince Street, with the hope it would become a gathering space for artists, and artisans. In 1973, it was named the Lefurgey Cultural Centre.
Wanda established the Wyatt Foundation to manage her varied philanthropic interests. Over the years many cultural endeavors, in Summerside and across the province, received support from the Wyatt Foundation.
019.587 Wanda Wyatt Collection
Soon after Miss Wyatt’s death in January of 1998, discussions began between the Wyatt Foundation and the City of Summerside regarding her wishes to have the Lefurgey continue as a cultural centre and her home become a museum. Also, a third house was now part of the equation as the foundation had recently acquired the neighbouring home of J. Watson MacNaught, a prominent lawyer and politician.
In the summer of 1999, the City commissioned a study and business plan to determine the development of the properties as part of its heritage initiative. The report resulted in an agreement being reached to transfer the three properties, along with the contents of the Wyatt and Lefurgey, to the City of Summerside. A capital renovation and start-up payment, together with an endowment trust fund was conservatively estimated at $2.2 million. An annual operation subsidy would be drawn from the trust fund.
The City began to actively manage the properties in January 2000. The restoration of the houses began, and the MacNaught History Centre and Archives opened in October of 2000, followed by the Wyatt House Museum in June 2001. The Lefurgey Cultural Centre opened in August, 2005.
Because of the foresight and generosity of Wanda Wyatt, the community of Summerside has benefited economically and socially from the ever growing appreciation and embracing of arts, heritage, and culture.