In Memoriam: Ches Skinner

CATR members mourn the loss of former president Ches Skinner. Renowned in Lethbridge for his community service and on the University of Lethbridge campus for his generosity and kind leadership, Ches was a friend and valued colleague to many and will be widely missed. I am grateful to have spoken with him at CATR 2022 at the University of Lethbridge when he was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Associateship to CATR. Our thoughts are with Ches’s family and friends.

Les membres de l’ACRT pleurent la mort de Ches Skinner, ancien président de l’Association. Réputé à Lethbridge pour son dévouement au service de la communauté et sur le campus de l’Université de Lethbridge pour sa générosité et son leadership attentionné, Ches était un ami et un collègue précieux pour plusieurs d’entre nous. Il nous manquera grandement. Je suis heureux d’avoir discuté avec lui lors du colloque de l’ACRT de 2022, qui s’est tenu à l’Université de Lethbridge, et au cours duquel nous lui avons décerné le titre de chercheur émérite. Nos pensées accompagnent la famille et les camarades de Ches.


Dr. Robin C. Whittaker, CATR President
Associate Professor, Drama, Department of English
St. Thomas University, Fredericton, NB


Shelley Scott, University of Lethbridge

When Ches Skinner received his Lifetime Achievement Award from CATR at the June 2022 conference at the University of Lethbridge, he remarked: “Having spent a career in drama is as good as it gets. You spend your days playing in the classroom and the studio and you spend your time getting to know students and working with them closely. In many ways, it was exactly what I found when I joined CATR. The reason drama students find drama so interesting–and they’ll come and tell you at the end of their 4 years it was the best course they ever took–or something along those lines–and although the teachers are great, I think there’s another reason for it. And that is–Drama is about the only thing left today that requires a community in order to be able to do it.”

Ches was born November 3, 1944 in Newfoundland and died on June 18, 2023, after spending a last Father’s Day with his wife Betty and their three children, Daniel, Christopher, and Baz. Ches earned his undergraduate degrees at Memorial, his MA at Illinois State, and his PhD at Michigan State, before joining the Drama department at the University of Lethbridge in 1976. In 1978 Jack Heifner’s Vanities was the first play he directed for us and To Kill a Mockingbird (2008) marked his twentieth and final production. He served as Chair of the Drama Department and then as Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts from 1999 until 2009. He served in various board roles and as President of CATR/ACRT from 1996 – 2000. Ches played an important part in the history of our association, especially in his welcoming and mentoring of young academics.

After retirement, Ches spent eleven years teaching in Malaysia. The tributes to Ches that have poured in from his former students, both in Canada and internationally, are a testament to his kindness and generosity, and to the delight he took in being able to share his love of cooking, reading, and especially theatre. I count myself very lucky for having been able to follow in his footsteps, as a professor and director in the Drama department, as the president of CATR, and for the past two years as the interim dean of Fine Arts. I’ve valued Ches’ advice and guidance at every stage and – like so many others, especially his family – I will miss him.


Ches Skinner Obituary

The University of Lethbridge Condolence Notice


  • Sherrill Grace says:

    Thank you Robin for this notice. I remember Ches very fondly! He was a fine scholar, teacher, and advocate for Canadian theatre. These notices seem to be coming upon us faster and faster—a pioneering generation is leaving you/us to carry on.


    Dr. Sherrill Grace, OC, FRSC
    UBC University Killam Professor Emerita,
    Dept of English Language and Literatures,
    University of British Columbia

  • Moira Day says:

    Ches was indeed an original. Those of us from the earlier years of the Association always appreciated his distinctive Newfoundland bonhomie and flair both in his scholarship and conference participation – and of course, his many years of service to CATR and his adopted southern Alberta home (which is about as far away from the sea as you can get). For us as well, it was lovely to have the chance to see him again – bonhomie and flair still in full force – at one more conference in 2022. He will be missed. Fair weather to you, Ches, – and Godspeed.

  • Roz Kerr says:

    My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.
    I have great memories of working with Ches.

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