Hinitt, Robert N. (1926-)

Bob Hinitt, constructing an ice castle for the Meewasin Valley Authority's winter carnival, February 1983.
Richard Marjan (Saskatchewan Archives Board) S-SP-A19736-4, Saskatoon StarPhoenix fonds

Born on June 24, 1926, in Winnipeg, Bob Hinitt lived in Calgary and Blucher, Saskatchewan, before moving to Saskatoon in 1935. His mother, a former costume-maker, supported him and his sister as a milliner/ seamstress, while he completed an Honours BA in French and English (1947), MA (1949), and BEd (1952) at the University of Saskatchewan.

In 1950, Hinitt embarked on a 44-year teaching career in French, English and Drama, which included 31 years of high school teaching (1950-81) and thirteen years of sessional work (University of Saskatchewan, 1981-94). Influenced by the addition of Drama to the school curriculum and by the work of Mary Ellen Burgess, Hinitt soon began translating a high school interest in acting and an earlier training in art (Ernst Lindner) and sculpture (Eli Bornstein), into a lifelong passion for designing, directing and teaching theatre.

Between 1950 and 1958, Hinitt directed plays for City Park Collegiate, taking awards in provincial drama festivals (1956-58). In 1958, he joined Aden Bowman Collegiate, where his work contributed to Drama becoming curricular for grades nine to twelve (1972). Asked by founding principal Charles Mair to design a theatre for the school, Hinitt, who spent part of his sabbatical (1962) working in Stratford's set, property and design shop, responded with Castle Theatre. The 600-seat theatre, in a circular design loosely modeled after the Stratford Festival stage, was completed in 1966, and remains unique as a flexible, intimate theatre space for community and school productions.

Hinitt, whose eclectic range included world classics as well as contemporary British, Canadian and American work and musicals, also served as an award-winning director/designer in the community theatre. A founding member of the Saskatoon Gateway Players (1965-) and the Saskatoon Summer Players (1964-) Hinitt participated in the DDF finals in Kitchener (Molière's Tartuffe, University of Saskatchewan, 1963) and in Windsor (Wycherley's Country Wife, Gateway, 1968), produced shows for Gateway for over twenty years, and directed the annual musical for the Summer Players (1964-81). He also served on the first Board of Directors for Persephone Theatre (1974). Since retirement (1981), he has continued teaching and directing on a part-time basis and designing an annual Christmas display at his home.

Honoured with the Order of Canada (1983) and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit (2000), Hinitt was inducted into the Woodward Theatre Hall of Fame (2001) as “an educator whose passion for theatre and design nurtured generations of theatre-goers, practitioners and artists, and whose vision included the creation of Castle Theatre.”

Moira Day

Further Reading

Taylor, Mark. 2003. “Displays Legendary Tradition: Bob Hinitt's Creations Have Been Enjoyed By All Since 1947.” StarPhoenix (December 23), A3, A7