Joseph Harvey Shoctor

In 1964-65 Shoctor's work in theatre underwent 2 simultaneous changes. With Norman Twain he began to produce theatre in New York, an enterprise that lasted some 5 years. At the same time, with a group of friends, he established professional theatre as a permanent fixture in Edmonton.

Joseph Shoctor, lawyer and theatre producer
Shoctor established Edmonton's first professional theatre, the Citadel, in 1965 (courtesy Dwayne Brown Photography).

Shoctor, Joseph Harvey

 Joseph Harvey Shoctor, QC, lawyer, real estate developer, theatre producer (b at Edmonton 18 Aug 1922; d there 19 April 2001). Although active in many fields, Shoctor was best known and recognized for his contribution to theatre in Edmonton. As early as 1937 he was active in amateur theatre - acting, directing, writing and producing for organizations such as the Edmonton Little Theatre and the Edmonton Light Opera. During World War II, Shoctor was part of a group that staged entertainments for the troops along the NORTHWEST STAGING ROUTE. While studying law at the University of Alberta he was active with the University Drama Department's Studio Theatre. In 1946, following graduation and before beginning to practise, Shoctor took a summer trip to Hollywood to investigate his chances as an actor. Although offered a try-out at the Pasadena Playhouse, he decided not to "starve for his art," so returned to Edmonton.

In 1964-65 Shoctor's work in theatre underwent 2 simultaneous changes. With Norman Twain he began to produce theatre in New York, an enterprise that lasted some 5 years. At the same time, with a group of friends, he established professional theatre as a permanent fixture in Edmonton. They bought an old Salvation Army building known as The Citadel and turned it into the CITADEL THEATRE.

As founder and executive producer, Shoctor was the driving force behind the growth and development of the Citadel. His expressed ambition was to make Citadel "the theatre centre of this country." His efforts at raising funds for a new complex to house the Citadel earned him the nickname "Mr Citadel" and a reputation as the most persuasive fundraiser in the history of Canadian theatre. He readily admitted to having returned corporate donations to their source if he found them not fitting the stature or resources of the donor. In 1998 his efforts earned him the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts.

Shoctor was sometimes called (not always affectionately) "Broadway Joe" - for his early association with producing in New York and for his attempts to connect the Citadel with major international theatre centres.

Shoctor was well-known in his home city of Edmonton for his volunteer work for a variety of civic causes. Among many public honours, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (University of Alberta, 1981) and was admitted to the Order of Canada (1986). In 1989 he was recognized by the Edmonton theatre community with a Sterling Award in recognition of his lifetime contribution to the performing arts, and in 1998 a street adjacent to the Citadel Theatre was renamed Shoctor Alley in his honour.