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The Shanneyganock frontman shares details about the band's new release, cruising through life and more.
A whitewater adventure with Rafting Newfoundland
Right here in Newfoundland and Labrador!
A flashback to Skipper's lighthouse on fictional Rainbow Point
For the past 24 years, Chris Andrews and Mark Hiscock have been making beautiful music together. The duo became musical collaborators by accident when they were double booked at a local pub. Instead of cancelling one of the performances, the proprietor suggested they play together and the rest, as they say, is history. Over two decades later, Shanneyganock (which currently consists of Chris, Mark, Chris Donnelly and Ian Chipman) has earned a reputation as one of Newfoundland and Labradorâs best party bands - and for good reason. Itâs hard not to crack a smile and tap your toes while listening to their tunes. On June 15, Shanneyganock released their newest album, Home In My Harbour, and this summer, theyâre taking their show on the road, appearing at Squid Fest in Holyrood July 15; the George Street Festival in St. Johnâs August 1; and the Festival of Friends in Outer Cove August 13, along with other performances throughout the summer and fall. Downhome met up with frontman Chris Andrews at Erinâs Pub (which he runs with Bob Hallett of Great Big Sea fame) in downtown St. Johnâs to talk about the new release, cruising through life, and the awesome power of music and friends. Downhome: The new album is called Home In My Harbour, which evokes warm and cosy imagery, and the songs are as rollicking as usual, but youâve got some touching ones in there, too. What kind of feel were you going for with the new album? Chris Andrews: The whole theme of this was a feel good, downhome, Newfoundland kind of album with that East Coast feel - happy songsâ¦but a couple of old school tear jerkers. We write some of our own stuff but a lot of it, as a trad band, is to take different music and change it up; hopefully, it gets another spell. [The album] is made for people to have a little funâ¦whether youâre in the shed or in the car driving. Itâs been rough here lately for everybody. Everything has changed. And itâs just sort of, hey, you know, donât forget weâve still got âer scald. Itâs time for a fun album to come out. DH: Included on this album is âOne More Will Stand,â which you wrote for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel last year. What was the experience like of writing that song? Obviously, itâs quite different from your other tunes. CA: It is, and it was recorded at a different time. It was actually recorded at CBC Studio F last year and then it was added on to the record. That was some of the most pressure Iâve ever felt in my life, was writing that song. Because we asked for people to give their stories and it was so overwhelming. I got hundreds, it was unrealâ¦and people liked it, in general. We were on tour, we were walking into gas stations and stuff and people were clapping. It was really nice...I couldnât tell everybodyâs story. The best thing was to tell what actually happened, and thatâs what I did. DH: I canât imagine condensing that into a six-minute song. CA: Yeah, it was like âStairway to Heavenâ - we had to cut it back and cut it back and cut it back, because it was really long. It was like, 13 minutes, the first versionâ¦and then we cut it back and cut it back and finally, we got it to six. Shanneyganock: (left-right) Chris Donnelly, Ian Chipman, Chris Andrews and Mark HiscockDH: Your music video for âMusic & Friends,â featuring the legendary Bud Davidge of Simani, blew up the Internet when you released it. How did that collaboration come about and what was it like performing with a Newfoundland musical icon? CA: Bud is pure class. Heâs just one of those guys. Heâs excellent, itâs great to be around him. The first time I ever met him was [when] we did this OâBrienâs Music store benefit a few years ago...and Bud came in and sang for that. It was the first time he sang in a long while and Shanneyganock backed him up and Alan Doyle was on stage. It was great. It was a laugh; it was wicked. And we said, we gotta do this again. And Mark and Bud are very tight and Budâs Markâs hero, more or less. So it was a great opportunity for Mark, and Bud really enjoyed it. We all enjoyed it. It was just fun.DH: I read that the video received over 410,000 Facebook views within the first week, and thousands of shares. Did you expect that kind of reaction? CA: I didnât know what to expect, because Iâm not really Internet savvy. I donât pay a lot of attention to it or anything. I expected people to like it. I didnât think it was going to go like that. Thereâs been no negativity, itâs all positive, positive, positiveâ¦Everybodyâs a bit down, and weâve got a lot of s--- on the go, thereâs no doubt about it. But weâve still got it pretty good, and weâve still got a lot of things - weâve got family, weâve got friends, we got music, we got ourselves. DH: This past April, Shanneyganock headlined the Downhome Music & Friends Caribbean Cruise - something which youâll be doing again in February 2018. What was that experience like, and do you have any favourite moments from that trip?CA: So many things stick out. I was very apprehensive about anything to do with cruises in the first place. When weâve been asked to do cruises before, we always declined. But the Downhome...I just knew itâd be okay, so I went with it. And am I ever glad I did because it ended up being excellent. It was a really enjoyable trip and I got to meet so many different people and the weather was perfect. It was a lot of fun and people were great...weâre looking forward to the next one. DH: Is there anything else you want people to know about the new album, or anything at all really? CA: We just want to thank people in general. We feel so lucky to be still able to do this [for] this long, and still getting a great response from the audience, and just sort of finding our little niche in culture in Newfoundland and Labrador. We just want to have our little place and continue on and make musicâ¦weâre very proud to be able to do that and very thankful. When youâre together 22 years and youâre 45 years old and youâre making music this long - this album, you know, it was still me and Mark, and Billy Sutton [former drummer] and Craig Young [guitarist/frequent collaborator], and Ian was in, and Patrick Moran, who Iâve been playing with since I was 16 years old. Itâs still the same guys, still doing the same things. [Weâre] very lucky. - By Linda Browne
The roller coaster ride into the maelstrom of whitewater begins with disconcerting deception. It is little more than an increase in ambient noise, the slight rumble of a ghost train chugging down a long abandoned track just at the edge of your senses. There is the slight dip in temperature as the moisture-soaked air is tossed up by volatile liquid bashing amongst boulders, some bigger than bungalows. There is the subtle change in aroma and taste of the air felt in the nose, mouth and lungs as the bridal veil mist carries the river scents towards the sky.By the time the eyes glance up from the constant downward strokes of the paddle and see the enraged eggbeater broiling waters waiting to engulf you, it is far too late to do anything except hold on for dear life. The waves sweep over you, soaking everything, the bottom drops out of your stomach for a second in a downward plunge and then you are over the rapids and shot beyond to foamy pools where all is comparatively peaceful. There is huge collective whooping and paddles raised in high fives and all aboard canât wait to run the next section. A teenager seated behind me declares enthusiastically, âThis is wicked, buddy!â~That trip last summer was my first with Rafting Newfoundland, an operation based out of Riverfront Chalets, approximately 20 kilometres west of Grand Falls-Windsor on the Trans Canada Highway at Aspen Brook. Our group travelled by bus with our rafts and gear upriver to the launch point for the most popular tour offering known as the âBadger Chute.âAfter our five-hour excursion down 14 kilometres of river, I got a chance to chat with Alex Lowman, our experienced 20-year-old guide. Originally from Osgoode, Ontario, a farming town south of Ottawa, he seemed completely at home on the Exploits River in Central Newfoundland. I soon figured out why.âAlong with several of the other guides this summer, I am enrolled in an Outdoor Adventure Guiding two-year diploma program at Algonquin College in Ontario. I have completed the first year and return to school in September. We did training on the Ottawa River, the Rouge River, Gatineau River and the [Class Four Rapids] of the Jacques River, so we all have a lot of experience on the water,â Alex explained.Paddlers have a blast while getting wet on this section of the Exploits River.In addition, Rafting Newfoundland offers its own four-day training camp in the summers. The hands-on course covers how to guide a raft, as well as crucial safety and rescue techniques for swift water paddle sports. Even if you donât want a career as a guide, it could be of use to anyone who spends substantial time on or near rivers.There are six difficulty levels of river rapids, as defined by American Whitewater (a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of natural waterways) and internationally recognized since the 1950s. The levels range from Class 1 Rapids (easiest) to Class 6 Rapids (the most extreme and dangerous that should not be attempted). Our Badger Chute tour along a small section of the 246-kilometre Exploits River (the longest river on the island of Newfoundland) took us through, at its most challenging, Class Three rapids. According to Alex, kayakers named this section a long time ago after the town of Badger, which is set along the banks of the Exploits River. âBasically it is a narrow chute through two rocks where all this mass of water that drains one-third of the island of Newfoundland funnels down to a tiny spot and creates a big wave.âAlex added, ââRoseâs Roostâ is another excellent location, named after Paul and Joy Rose who originally founded the [rafting] company 20 years ago. This was a favourite spot on the river to hang out or âroost and surfâ in the currents. In easy terms, surfing can happen where upstream and downstream currents meet and are fighting each other. There is a sweet spot of sorts created in the middle where you can roost. What the rafting guide and paddlers try to do is take turns riding the upstream current in and play around in there and get wet. It is a lot of fun and kids and folks of all ages love it and think it is awesome. Some of the expressions on waterproof camera photos are priceless.âThe group takes a break during a whitewater rafting adventure on the Exploits River.For a more technically challenging ride in the future, Iâm told the company is looking at an area near Grand Falls called âThe Canyon.â Alex said, âIt is around a Class Three Rapids all the way, so instead of this more family friendly day-long outing we enjoyed [today], where it is broken up by lots of nice places to swim and quieter sections of river, The Canyon would be about an hour-and-a-half to two-hour run. This would be full-on, going through Class Three whitewater rapids for more experienced paddlers and a lot of fun.â Alex estimated they guide about 2,000 visitors every season, from May to October, from age five (with a guardian) and up. There is no such thing as âtoo oldâ for a rafting adventure, as long as youâre fairly fit. Seniors even get a discount! Tours generally go regardless of weather and are usually not affected by rain since, as Alex said, âYou are guaranteed to get wet on a whitewater raft anyway, so why worry about a few rain drops?âThe group navigates through rough waters on the Exploits River.My day with Rafting Newfoundland swept by and before I knew it my adventure was over. But what memories I have! We lunched upon an island of rocks mid-river under the warm sun, swam in the calm steadies, and sighted eagles and other wildlife. We talked of the Beothuk Indians and the hunters, trappers, loggers and salmon anglers who loved this waterway in the past, and had good-natured water fights with rival rafts. Mostly we drifted along sharing stories with fellow paddlers, as if we were modern-day Huckleberry Finns under the unobstructed mantle of summer sky.Our tour concluded where it began, back at Riverfront Chalets. Almost anyone with a reasonable level ofpreparedness, physical fitness and positive attitude, accompanied by professional guides, could do it. Donât try it alone - do it safely and with experienced leadership, and it will surely be a day of mighty exploits. - Story and photos by Dennis Flynn
It may look just like any other hotel room: the bed is neatly made, the dressers are wiped down and pictures hang on the wall. But when you inspect it closely, you can notice the care and attention that went into designing and childproofing the space. The pictures are nailed to the wall, there are extra security locks on the door and the coffee maker is tucked in a dresser with its own safety lock.On May 13, 2017, Hotel Port aux Basques officially opened two autism-friendly rooms. Itâs a first for hotels in Canada, possibly even in the whole of North America. Three years ago Autism Involves Me (AIM) - an organization devoted to enhancing the lives of people with autism through education and resources - approached Hotel Port aux Basques owner Cathy Lomond about incorporating more autism-friendly features into the hotel. AIM put the funds together to make the necessary alterations happen, and renovations started last year.Two guestrooms have been retrofitted so far, and Cathy hopes to alter most of the rooms on the ground floor in the next year. âItâs not major to do; itâs just taking the time to make sure itâs all done,â says Cathy.The hotel has also opened a sensory room, converting a gym that previously wasnât being used to its full potential. Along one side of the room is a mural painted by local artist Alex LeRiche; another side has a climbing wall for kids to burn off excess energy. Thereâs also a crowâs nest swing, a pea pod and a large crash pillow, as well as fidget toys. And the sensory room is equipped with lights that can be dimmed.The sensory room is open to anyone, not just hotel guests. Cathy points out that Port aux Basques gets a lot of travellers because of the ferry, so people can bring their kids by to relax after a stressful trip.Cathyâs sister has Down Syndrome, so she is sensitive to the obstacles faced by families travelling with children who have different requirements. âJust the extra special needs they have to be taken care of, and you want them to feel safe,â says Cathy. For instance, some autistic children have a tendency to wander off, so parents need that extra lock on the door so their child canât leave unaccompanied.For children with vocal issues, the kidsâ menu in the hotel restaurant features pictures of meals the child can point to. As well, some parents might need access to the restaurantâs kitchen to cook special meals; the staff just needs a heads up. âSo if we know that in advance, we can help,â says Cathy.Cathy had a slideshow of the hotelâs layout put together for parents, who can use it to help familiarize their child with the new environment prior to arriving. âItâs really just making the parent feel that when they bring their child here, that they have knowledge of all of that,â Cathy says.In a statement to Downhome, Tess Hemeon, Manager of Community Engagement for the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador (ASNL), praised the steps taken by the hotelâs management. âThe world can seem confusing and very unpredictable for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD),â explains Tess, adding that misunderstandings on behalf of service providers can result in negative experiences for families coping with ASD. (In addition to the physical changes to Hotel Port aux Basques, Cathy had her staff trained in the needs of people with ASD.)âFamilies visiting the Hotel Port aux Basques will have an extra sense of comfort knowing they will be greeted by a staff that understands their familyâs needs,â Tess writes.Cathy would like to see more hotels follow in their footsteps.âI really think this is just an eye opener,â says Cathy. âWe want all of our customers to be very happy and I want to know that people can travel and feel safe.â - By Elizabeth Whitten
From 1974-1989, kids in Newfoundland and Labrador tuned in to CBC-TV to see if they or anyone they knew were on this weekâs episode of âSkipper & Company.â School choirs, dance groups, talented individuals and interesting locals of all ages were welcome visitors to Skipper's lighthouse on fictional Rainbow Point. The show was part-skit, part-talent show and part-childrenâs education. It was classic CBC regional entertainment.Skipper was played by Montreal-born Ray Bellew, an actor and magician who often performed magic tricks on the show. After âSkipper & Company,â Bellew moved to CBC Radio as announcer and producer, and later portrayed PJ Billington, bringing the St. Johnâs restaurant character to life. He died in 2006 at the age of 67.A regular visitor to the lighthouse was Skipperâs loyal and comical buddy, Corky, played by Mack Barfoot. Since âSkipper & Company,â Mack acted in several movies and appeared as âCrazy Clydeâ Crump on âThe Eddie Eastman Show.â Mack is currently the drummer in his jazz band, Mack Barfoot Trio.
I'll never forget my first Downhome Cruise. In April this year, I joined about 200 other Newfoundlanders and Labradorians (and a few wannabes) onboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. If you follow Downhome on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you saw some of the highlights. But to really appreciate it - well, you had to be there. Getting there was the first adventure. Mother Nature decided to play an April Foolâs trick and throw a multi-day wintry weather system at the east coast on the very weekend we were scheduled to fly to Florida. It was a mad scramble to rebook on earlier flights to get out ahead of the storm, only to have the bad weather meet us halfway and delay us an extra night mid-trip. Incredibly, despite leaving more than 24 hours earlier than we had planned, we wound up travelling for 36 hours and arriving in Orlando exactly when our original flight was supposed to get there. Mark Hiscock of Shanneyganock wrote a hilarious poem about our adventure. Below, watch him read it to us during our closing concert onboard the cruise ship. We thought we had the best travel story going into this vacation, but we were wrong. Chris Gallichon and his girlfriend Kristen Sanger, both living in Calgary, AB, were booked on this cruise with other family members. I met Kristen at our welcome party as we were sailing away from Port Canaveral. I was helping hand out our guestsâ nametags. She gave me her name, then said, with a hint of sadness, that her boyfriend Chris wouldnât be needing his nametag. He couldnât get away from work in time. But by midweek, she pulled off the greatest plan. Kristen got permission from Oasis of the Seas to have Chris board during our scheduled stop on the island of St. Maarten. He flew down from his worksite to Calgary airport, had a car drive to his home and wait while he threw his passport and a few items in a bag then drive him back to the airport to catch the first leg of his flight to St. Maarten. In St. Maarten, Kristen got a ride to the airport on an ATV where she met Chris. Together they paid a taxi driver extra to get them to the dock in time (apparently there was some sidewalk driving involved!), and I met him with his nametag at our private party in the Solarium Bar that night. Safe to say they were the happiest couple on board the ship that night. From the opening cocktail party to the âOde to Newfoundlandâ closing song, it was the most incredible week. Not only were there new friendships made, there was at least one surprise reunion. Two guests,Perpetua Hilldrop and Frank Jackman, live in different towns in Ontario and are longtime expats from Newfoundland and Labrador. Perpetua happened to see Frankâs nametag on the table when she was getting hers and said, âI know a Frank Jackman. Heâs from Bell Island.â So she sought him out and, sure enough, he was a cousin that she hadnât seen for decades! They had a lot of catching up to do. (Frank has his own story he likes to tell about his first encounter with me. Maybe Iâll share that another time.) Before I leave this story, I have to give a shout-out to Perpetua for her stellar Mae West performance in a skit she convinced Downhomeâs Todd Goodyear to perform with her on stage one afternoon. Perpetua, you are every bit as charming and entertaining as Mae West! Perpetuaâs granddaughter, Sophia Janszen Spitman, was Screeched-in on this trip, as was Mark Pittman of Naples, Florida. Mark Hiscock did a fine job as the Screech-in Master, and Downhomeâs Grant Young - whoâd shown himself all week to be a spirited feller on the dance floor - was called upon to lead the honorary Newfoundlanders in their first public jig. Downhome's Todd Goodyear and Grant Young join all the entertainers in song at Dazzles lounge. Shanneyganock performed under the stars at the Aqua Theatre. They're actually standing on a covered diving pool and there was a swell on - their sea legs served them well! L-R: Ian Chipman, Chris Andrews, Mark Hiscock. It was no trouble filling a dance floor wherever our entertainers played on the ship. In particular, I found myself spellbound sometimes watching Judy Stamp and Anthony Powell swirling about night after night. And the lovely Wanda Pike and Georgina Parsons couldnât resist a good tune. During Shanneyganockâs concert at the outdoor Aqua Theatre, they were twirling around on stage behind the band as good as any backup dancers. Other hidden talents emerged throughout the week, especially during our Open Mic session and Karaoke. And everyone was buzzing about young Conor Nemec, whoâd brought his accordion on this trip and joined his dad Tommy, his music teacher Aaron Collis (of Rum Ragged) and other musicians for several sets. Heâs only been at it for two years, but he plays and behaves like a pro.A special hello to Desmond Kenny Jr., undisputedly DâArcy Broderickâs biggest fan and the Downhome Cruise honorary assistant coordinator this year. He didnât miss an event, loved to work the room and made sure I was aware of any good photo or video opportunities (especially if DâArcy was involved). I hope you have great memories of the cruise, Desmond. Of course, whatâs a Downhome adventure without Corky Sly Conner? We smuggled him aboard and the shipâs crew gave him a place to hide and watch over all the goings on. Georgina Parsons was the first to get a photo of his position and show it to Todd Goodyear, so she won the US$100 prize. However, Les Holley deserves something (maybe a âHard Ticketâ trophy, eh Les?) for creating his own Find Corky game. It all started when he presented a photo of Corky in the Downhome magazine heâd brought onboard and declared heâd found the sly conner (âWell, he is technically on the ship,â he teased). He was told, no go, thatâs not the Corky youâre looking for. So challenged, Les continued all week to take photos of pretty much any fish image he saw onboard and in port (actually, itâs my fault because I suggested it in fun). When he got home, he sent me his favourites, including the photo to the left! Les Holley and his copy of Downhome Find Corky winner Georgina Parsons (centre), with Wanda Pike, accepts the US$100 prize from Downhome's Todd Goodyear. A huge thank you goes to Deborah OâConnell and Andrea Samson of LeGrowâs Travel. These lovely ladies took great care of all our guestsâ travel needs, going above and beyond sometimes to ensure that everyone had the best time on the Downhome Cruise. We couldnât have pulled this off without them. Finally, saving the best for last, hats off to Tommy Nemec; DâArcy Broderick; Mark Manning and Aaron Collis of Rum Ragged; and Ian Chipman, Mark Hiscock and Chris Andrews of Shanneyganock for entertaining us day and night. Often Oasis of the Seas passengers who werenât part of our group, and had no connection to Newfoundland and Labrador or heard our music before, would pause outside the doors of our live venues and look forlornly at the âPrivate Partyâ sign. Several times they commented to me that it was âby far the best live music anywhere on this ship.â Andrea Samson (left) and Deborah O'Connell (second from right) of LeGrow's Travel with our Oasis of the Seas event coordinators, Claudia (second from left) and Alexandria. We were honoured to have private performances by such talented musicians and singers, and genuinely fine people. It was a privilege to have spent the week with all of you. And weâre doing it again next year! Please join us for the âtimeâ of your life on board Royal Caribbeanâs Oasis of the Seas, February 18-24, 2018. Visit DownhomeCruise.com for more information, as well as more photos and videos from our 2017 trip. - By Janice Stuckless, Downhome Editor-in-Chief A group shot of all our cruise organizers and entertainers, plus a couple of extra honorary ones. (l-r): Deborah O'Connell and Andrea Samson of LeGrow's Travel; Aaron Collis and Mark Manning of Rum Ragged; Chris Andrews of Shanneyganock; honorary assistant cruise coordinator Desmond Kenny Jr.; D'Arcy Broderick; Conor and Tommy Nemec; Janice Stuckless, Downhome; Ian Chipman and Mark Hiscock , Shanneyganock; Grant Young and Todd Goodyear, Downhome.
It was 1958. I was 12 years old and, as the saying goes, I remember that summer as if it were yesterday.We lived in Harbour Grace for two months. The weather was hot and sunny, the ocean was like nothing Iâd ever experienced before - and I met the boys from Carbonear.We boarded a Trans-Canada Airlines North Star at Malton Airport (now Pearson International) to fly to St. Johnâs. By âweâ I mean the Ross family - my grandmother, Renie; my mother, Peggy; my brother, Jim; my sisters Marene and Michele; and our dog, Laddie. My momâs sister, Mary and my cousin, Deb Archibald were already there. My father, Bill, only had two weeks off in the summer so he joined us later. The purpose of the trip was to show us where our Newfoundland family - including my father and his parents - had been born and raised. Mom and me on the plane to St. John'sThere were no Rosses left in Harbour Grace in â58, but we knew our Archibald cousins well. Aunt Annie and Uncle Herm, Uncle Harry, Uncle Howie and Aunt Rose often visited us in Port Credit, Ontario, where we lived. They were the ones who met us at the airport and drove us around the bay. We stayed at Uncle Harryâs house on Brazil Lane, right behind Pikeâs Hotel. My brotherâs best friend, Eddie, lived up the lane and his mother baked bread for us every day. Florence, a teenager from Spaniardâs Bay, was hired for the summer to help my mother and grandmother. That way they had time to join the active social scene in Harbour Grace. There were suppers with our extended family, bridge games at night and special trips to the Brigus Tea Room. My cousin Charles Coe, my brother Jim, our dog Laddie, and me on the front steps of Uncle Harry's house on Brazil LaneBut I remember the outdoor activities best. We swam in the icy water at Northern Bay Sands and then ran squealing into the warm water at the base of a small waterfall. Salmon Cove Sands was another favourite spot for taking a dip in the ocean, but I missed the freshwater pool to warm me up. We swam and had picnics at Lady Lake and Rocky Pond, and I loved the warm, shallow water at the Gullies. When my dad arrived it was all about the fishing - trout from Rocky Pond and cod jigging with a local fisherman. It was the hottest and sunniest summer anyone in Harbour Grace could remember.Swimming at Rocky PondMy best friend that summer was my cousin, Diane Archibald. She lived with her parents, Lloyd and Grace, and her brother, Greg, on Harvey Street. Through her I met Joan Parsons and Glenda Godden - and that was when the summer of â58 took on a whole new meaning. They were 14 years old and interested in boys, the boys from Carbonear to be exact. That summer, Guy Fred Earl, Dave Soper, Ron Howell, Kevin Gear, Bill Cameron and sometimes Max Parsons entered my life. I donât remember the first time we met. They just seemed to flow into our after-dinner routine. Sometimes we walked around town, sometimes we sat on the wharf and talked, and sometimes we went to Aunt Sadeâs movie theatre to sit at small tables in the lobby and drink Cokes. An outdoor supper at Bannerman house (Aunt Annie and Uncle Herm's house). Joan, Diane and I are in front. The adults are at another table.To Joan, Diane and Glenda these activities seemed quite natural, but to me this was a whole new world. These boys were nothing like the 12- and 13-year-olds I knew back home. These boys talked more, joked more, laughed louder and smoked. They never had enough money for a whole pack of cigarettes, so they bought a few at a time from Mary Madigan, who ran the snack bar at the theatre. When they were around, I felt older myself.Some memories from that summer seem to flow around me in a comfortable haze; others are so sharp itâs as if Iâm still there. I remember the party Joan had just before my 13th birthday. It was hot in the front parlour, so the windows were open.People sat on the sills and the boys dropped out onto the lawn to have a cigarette before climbing back inside. Then someone handed me a comic book and said, âThis could happen tonight.â I didnât see the speaker because I was looking down at the illustration of a boy and girl locked in a kiss. The comic was one of the forbidden romance ones that weâd been secretly reading all summer.Although I donât know who handed it to me, I do know how confused I felt. Who wanted to kiss me? How should I react? When was this going to happen? The rest of the evening was a blur until I stood at the bottom of the steps at Uncle Harryâs house. Kevin Gear looked down at me and smiled. âWell, good night,â he said. Since heâd offered to walk me home, I assumed he was the one who wanted to kiss me. I threw my arms around his neck and mashed my face against his. I presume our lips touched, but Iâm not sure. Without another glance, I ran up the steps and into the house. I remember feeling shocked by my actions, but satisfied that the kiss had been accomplished.Over the years, Iâve wondered on occasion if Kevin knew about the comic or the âThis could happen tonightâ comment. Or maybe we were just innocent players in someone elseâs plot. Thereâs only one thing I know for sure about that kiss. It was part of an amazing first summer in Newfoundland. - Submitted by Heather StempHeather Stemp is the author of Amelia and Me, about her auntâs meeting with Amelia Earhart in Harbour Grace, NL, in 1932. She recently finished her second book, Taking Flight.
While the curtain may not rise until July, preparations for Shakespeare by the Sea are already well underway. Speaking to Downhome in April about the St. Johnâs area theatre festival dedicated to the works of William Shakespeare, artistic director Ian Campbell explains spring is one of the most hectic times of the year for organizers. Thatâs the time for casting calls, recruiting volunteers and hosting auditions. Every year it takes a team of about 50 people to pull off the festival, and Ian says thereâs plenty of work to do all year round as well.Ian says the festivalâs organizers are especially excited for the upcoming season, since this year marks the 25th anniversary of Shakespeare by the Sea.It all started in 1993, when a group of Memorial University drama students came together to perform Shakespeareâs The Tempest against the cliffs of Logy Bay. While the festival has avoided repeat performances over the years, to mark this milestone season - themed âFrom Home Port to Uncharted Watersâ - itâs going back to its roots.âThe Tempest is the very first play the festival did 25 years agoâ¦So thatâs âHome Port,ââ Ian explains. âAnd weâve paired it up with one of the remaining Shakespeare plays that the festival has yet to do, and thatâs Timon of Athens."When Ian joined the organization four years ago, he remembers being told that since its inception, the festival has had âa raw, rugged elemental history to it.â Itâs a major part of the festivalâs charm, with organizers taking advantage of the provinceâs dramatic landscape.âItâs a daunting place to think about staging a Shakespearian production. You have just a massive ocean in the background; you have these rugged cliffs,â he says. âDoing Shakespeare in these really, you know, almost extreme locations, places that you wouldnât think to attempt Shakespeare anywhere else - that has been a part of the companyâs history from day one. And to this day that is what we do. Shakespeare by the Sea does exclusively site-specific theatre.âLogy Bay remained the festivalâs primary location for the first few seasons. Itâs since expanded to other outdoor locations, as well as historic sites like the Newman Wine Vaults. You just wonât find them putting off a show in a conventional theatre. âNot only is it outdoors - itâs outdoors in these really challenging, but dramatic, landscapes that really challenge our actors and our audiences,â says Ian, adding itâs those challenges that make their productions so rewarding. Because the Newfoundland setting is so important to the festival, Shakespeare by the Sea also produces locally based plays. This year, audiences can take in Soldierâs Heart - about a son wanting his father to talk about the First World War - as well as Kelly Russellâs Tunes & Tales from Pigeon Inlet. These productions âreally round out what weâre doing,â Ian says.Since 2013, a small crew has performed Shake It Up at the St. Johnâs Farmersâ Market on Saturdays in the summer. During the production, six actors armed with Styrofoam swords give children a positive first-time Shakespeare experience, rather than hearing it dryly read in a classroom. In one hour, the actors cover four different plays, spoken in plain English with a bit of Shakespearian verse sprinkled in. Ian calls it their most important production of the season because it helps build up the next generation of theatre-goers and performers.Four Centuries of ShakespeareWhile many people can remember reading Shakespeareâs plays in high school, seeing them come to life is a completely different experience. For Ian, thatâs how those works are meant to be experienced.Shakespeare covered everything from political intrigue, to ill-fated love and knee-slapping comedy. âI think Shakespeare has a universal appeal to it. Shakespeare writes about things that all people grapple with,â Ian says.âAnywhere in the world, all stages of life, throughout all points of history, he writes about themes of love and loss and belonging and what makes a meaningful life.âLast year was the 400th anniversary of Shakespeareâs death and his work continues to endure. âItâs a rare occasion that an author writes about 40 plays and that all of them are still regularly, actively performed today - an unbroken performance history of 400 years,â says Ian. âAnd so, thereâs something very special about the stories and the language; and, again, taking that and marrying it with a rugged Newfoundland landscape, I think was an appealing thing.âShakespeare by the Sea not only stages high-quality shows, it also has what Ian calls a âmandate for serving the community,â with its volunteers gaining valuable mentorship and guidance from professionals within the theatre community.Twenty-five years on, the festivalâs list of alumni stretches over 800 names, including Petrina Bromley (now enjoying her Broadway debut in the Tony Award-nominated play Come From Away) and âRepublic of Doyleâ actors Allan Hawco, Krystin Pellerin and Steve OâConnell, among other famous names. âMany alumniâ¦have gone on to Broadway, they have gone on to the stages of the Stratford Festival,â says Ian. Each season the festival sees a mix of returning alumni and new faces. All of these people have been the key to keeping the festival alive for a quarter of a century. âThe faces have changed, but the tradition gets passed down,â says Ian. And for 25 years, theyâve stayed true to the festivalâs original vision: producing the drama of Shakespeare in the most of dramatic of settings - our own backyard. - By Elizabeth Whitten
Sitting in the deceptively beautiful interior of the Prince of Wales Loyal Orange Lodge in Cupids, Newfoundland, on a cold April night, the warmth of summer seems a long ways off. Five men have assembled in this historic building to share with me, and with each other, their favourite memories of Bay Wheels. Having endured for three decades, the car show (held each June in the Bay Arena in nearby Bay Roberts) is one of the longest running and most popular events of its kind in the province. As they pass around posters and paper snapshots pulled with care from file folders, their faces light up with recognition of special memories, machines and moments.âWe made it a âWheelsâ show. If whatever you were driving had wheels and you liked it, you could apply to enter it,â says Harold Akerman, one of the organizers. âThat meant over the years folks could bring an antique car or a vintage truck, but it could also be a motorcycle or specialty vehicle or even a brand new 2016 or 2017 vehicle.âAmong Haroldâs favourite âwheelsâ to have rolled into the Bay Arena is the very Landrover in which former premier Joey Smallwood drove across Newfoundland during the 1960s, upon the completion of the Trans Canada Highway across the island portion of the province.The first-ever Bay Wheels show featured around 34 vehicles, recalls organizer Ross Dawe. Nowadays, up to 3,500 auto enthusiasts attend to admire approximately 50 sweet rides displayed at the Bay Arena.âThere are lots of great cars out in the parking lots as well that, while not officially part of the show, are really worth having a look at. Folks enjoy bringing their own special cars and vehicles when they come out to Bay Wheels and that adds to it all as well,â says Ross. âWeâve pretty much seen it all over the years in terms of unusual or unique cars. A couple that jump to mind are the excellent collection of cars from Mr. Vernon Smith of Swift Current, who usually brings down a different vehicle each year.â (Click here for a story about Vernonâs Antique Toy Shop.)Importantly, Bay Wheels isnât just about cars. Over the years, raising funds for charity has been one of the eventâs main goals.Organizer Wendell Dawe estimates that after this yearâs show, Bay Wheels will have donated close to $100,000 to various organizations - everything from Ronald McDonald House to the VOCM Cares Foundation, Newfoundland and Labrador Cerebral Palsy Association and the Cupids Legacy Centre, to name just a few from a very long list of worthy recipients.Turning 30This yearâs Bay Wheels takes place June 3-4, and since this is the 30th anniversary of the show, organizer Lloyd Kane hints they may have a few small surprises in store, in addition to all the regular events, attractions, door prizes and giveaways to children that visitors enjoy. For anyone who might recall attending the very first Bay Wheels in 1987, a few vehicles from the eventâs debut will be making return appearances. They include Roy Daweâs 1954 Ford Crestliner Victoria, Ross Daweâs 1950 Chrysler Royal and Harold Akermanâs 1930 Ford Model A.At least one other aspect of the earliest show will be familiar: the registration price. Incredibly, the cost to enter a vehicle in the show, $10, has remained unchanged for 30 years. Admission has increased, but only slightly - from $2 to $5.âWe decided from day one to make this show as affordable and accessible to as many people who love vehicles as possible. That, plus the great support from participants, volunteers, sponsors, organizers and the general public who love the event and keep coming back year after year has made Bay Wheels the success it has been for the past 30 years. It is a tremendous team effort all the way around,â says Harold.On Saturday night, says Wendell, event sponsors and participants will get together as usual at the Lodge for a barbecue and auction, with these proceeds going to charity as well.âIt is something people look forward to as much as the show, and we get people who sign up year after year from all over the province,â says Wendell.As I am about to leave, Ross shares with me one last great car story. âMy car once belonged to a Mr. Cyril Flynn of Avondale, who operated a general store up there. The car is a 1950 Chrysler Royalâ¦when I had it finally all restored I called him up out of the blue and took him for a ride in it, which he really enjoyed. That was all fine and I pretty much forgot all about it,â says Ross. âA nice time later I was checking on the car one night in the garage that used to be attached to the house, and I noticed the brake lights were on for no reason. I pumped the brakes and started her up and shut her down and tried a few things, but they would not go off. So rather than leave them on I disconnected them for the night and went to bed. Next day, I hooked them up and they worked fine. Couldnât find any reason for it. I only learned later that Mr. Flynn had passed away that night. Now I canât say what happened, but I sometimes wonder if his spirit made one last stop to get a ride in his car, and left the brakes on.â - Story and photos by Dennis FlynnFor more details on Bay Wheels visit Thebayarena.com/bay_wheels_2017.