Wexford’s 40th brings a 1st

George Kerr plays Voyageur (and sets a record!)

I grew up in Don Mills and went to VicPark Secondary. That was on the west side of Victoria Park Avenue. Some of my friends went to Wexford Collegiate. That was on the east side of Victoria Park Avenue. Between the school and the retro-futuristic Parkway Plaza (recently awarded heritage status and the Cedarbrae Cinemas and a bunch of places you can read about in Paul Quarrington's final book, Cigar Box Banjo, Wexford felt like part of my neighbourhood and an important neighbourhood in the development of Toronto - especially in more recent years which have brought huge changes to that part of the city.

Growing along with those changes since 1978 as a fixture and hub for the community has been the Wexford Senior's Residence. To celebrate the institution's 40th anniversary, CEO Sandy Bassett and her team kicked off a fundraising drive with this sparkling gala to make sure the Wexford remains a community hub for the next 40 years: a new capital program for a new site, new building, new services, increased capacity and more. Saturday's gala was a chance to invite some local leaders to help support that vision and I was thrilled to be asked to be part of the proceedings.

Photographer Doug Nicholson and I set up our portrait station in the lobby in front of Hall B while a sumptuous Indian wedding was going on in Hall A.  I wished we might have been ready to get some portraits with some of the spectacularly clad guests but their reception party was already underway behind closed doors by that time.

Former Ontario Health Minister Dennis Timbrell served as emcee for the evening - only occasionally having to pause for a drum break coming from behind the wall between the two ballrooms. The presentation went very well and I confess I am always profoundly touched and amazed by the audience response to the Six String Nation story - especially when we get to the part about the Golden Spruce.

For our "performance pocket" player, Sandy and co. had enlisted Wexford resident George Kerr to do a few tunes. We sat with George for dinner before the presentation and got to hear a little bit about his time growing up in Scotland, his experience during the war and his many roles (usually as the villain, apparently) in a string of amateur musical productions over the years. Sure enough, the medley of songs he played from memory with Voyageur in hand included a number of familiar Rogers & Hammerstein  tunes, all ending with a rendition of "Danny Boy" - sung in a rich Scottish burr with plenty of power and range still behind it.  At 97 years young, George officially the oldest person to play Voyageur for an audience!

Thanks to Sandy Bassett, Bree Grant and all the staff and volunteers who made the evening such a success. Thanks also to our portrait station volunteers Sandeep Sharma, Joli Kadier, and Bijaya Singh for keeping the line moving smoothly. Thanks also to all the guests who came out to support this important cause and to lend their lovely mugs to our ongoing portrait project. Keep your eye on our Facebook page for when the portraits are posted online.

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Proud to be part of #SongStudio 2018 @HughsRoomLive

Just some of the <em>Voyageur</em> players at the SongStudio finale night at Hugh's Room The 14th year of SongStudio is now in the history books.
Every year, aspiring songwriters from around the city, across the country and all over the world, gather for a week in Toronto under the mentorship of an extraordinary group of musicians, songwriters, arrangers, producers and guest speakers (this year's faculty included Voyageur veterans Dayna Manning, Andrea Ramolo and Ron Sexsmith!) for a comprehensive immersion in the art, craft and process of songwriting. For some, it's about career development, for others it's simply a personal challenge but each year friendships are made, collaborations are fused and music is born in an atmosphere that is part seminar and part summer camp. The spirit of generosity - both among the participants toward each other and between the budding artists and their more established mentors - is a thing of beauty and it's all there to share when the group hosts their Thursday night showcase at Hugh's Room to road test the material they've been working on all week. With a crack band including musical director Allistair Bradley and guitar hero Rik Emmett working without any rehearsal whatsoever, songwriters hear their pencil sketches come to life in living colour before an audience of friends, family and a bunch of appreciative strangers.

I've been very honoured to have been invited to participate over the years by founders Bill McKetrick and Blair Packham. Bill asked me to be part of the proceedings this year with the announcement that he'll be stepping away from his role over the next year and handing the reigns to the supremely talented Jeff Giles so I was keen not to miss it. My role at these events is pretty easy. After making a brief introduction to the story of the guitar, I get to enjoy dinner and a show in some marvellous company while Voyageur sits on stage for whoever would like to use it during their performance. It's kind of a perfect role, in fact, for this special evening. Voyageur is literally built out of stories and when I'm not telling those stories, it's the job of musicians to bring their own stories to the instrument simply by playing it. During a week in which these artists are exploring their ability to bring their own story into song form, it's a true honour that any of them at all - with lots to think about besides picking up an unfamiliar guitar for the first time - would choose to make Voyageur part of the debut of new material but it's also fitting that these new voices fuse with the voices of all of those who have played the guitar in the past - first-timers and icons alike.

It was an awesome display of talent on stage this year. From among many highlights, I can tell you that you will be hearing a lot more, I'm sure, from a young singer named Amir Brandon and that Tania Joy wrote a song called "Drought" that was rich and complex and moving and new and yet managed to sound like it has existed for all time. I was especially thrilled that so many of the participants picked up Voyageur for their performances, including Cole Fraser (pictured, left) with Tracy McTaggart, Ingrid MacDonald (pictured, second from right), Gibson Himbault with Greg Kelly, Peter van der Maas with Mark Fitzpatrick, Jeff Giles (pictured, second from left) with Michelle Gold, Christie Simmons (pictured, right) with Peter Benes, and Sean Thomas (pictured, centre) both solo and in collaboration with friend-of-the-Nation Henry Lees.

Thanks once again to Bill for his hospitality, to all the SongStudio sponsors, faculty, players and participants and to the Hugh's Room management, crew and staff for hosting this important showcase for the songs of tomorrow.

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Mini WE Day is a Giant Success @RHCornishPS @DurhamDSB

Cohen performs for classmates Yesterday's trip to the Scugog region of Ontario was a collaboration between two Durham District School Board teachers, Lindsay Bauer at McCaskill's Mills P.S. in Cannington and Suzanne Guimont-Garriock at R.H. Cornish P.S. in Port Perry. Apart from the return to Cannington, where Voyageur had lived with Don Ross for a couple of weeks, it was another homecoming of sorts. Although Voyageur was built in Nova Scotia, when I first met luthier George Rizsanyi he was living in nearby Greenbank so it was familiar territory.

While the morning presentation was a pretty standard school gym assembly type affair, Suzanne had let me know that my presentation was going to be part of a larger event taking place at Cornish. Inspired by an earlier involvement with the WE.org and WE Day children's charity event, students at Cornish had mounted a number of initiatives at the school and the day was kind of Mini WE Day and a celebration to update their progress on various drives - including the collection of more than 2800 food items for the local food bank and hundreds of pairs of socks for shelters in the region. The students designed and executed every aspect of the show - from screen presentations to musical performances to dance breaks to guest speakers to special awards for work in the community and it all went off like clockwork. I felt lucky to have got to hang out a little bit with traditional/contemporary Plains Cree and Taino hoop dancer Beany John from Alberta, whose guest performance just blew me away with an extraordinarily complex and acrobatic traditional storytelling dance performed to Diplo's "Revolution"!

So, in a way, my presentation at the end of the day had the added element of attempting to draw together some of the many threads that had run through the afternoon and I hope it succeeded in doing that. It seemed to hit the mark with many students and staff who came up after the presentation to take pictures, ask questions and tell stories. I was especially moved by the story of one teacher who had come to Canada from Ireland and found in the presentation a way to connect with her feelings about the country of her choice.

Equally moving were the performances by student Cohen Arndt-Perris and sound man and local guitar-club leader Mike Murczek. Cohen (his parents were in attendance and told me that, indeed, he was named in honour of Leonard!) had some trepidation about taking on the "performance pocket" role since he's normally a nylon-string classical guitar player but after a quick run-through before the show he found his fingers easily and had no trouble at all wowing his classmates with a classical medley and probably the best student rendition of "Blackbird" I've heard yet. Mike did a medley of Neil Young tunes, complete with harmonica rack. He also spoiled me by outfitting the guitar with a wireless transmitter for the pick-up and now I don't know how I'll go without one!

Thanks again to Suzanne and Mike and all those incredible, motivated, dedicated students who are doing such great work in their community and let me play a part in their Mini WE Day!

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Voyageur returns to Cannington @McCaskillsMills @DurhamDSB

Richard McIntyre and Logan Keeler I spent June 15th - which is both my birthday and the day Voyageur came off the workbench in Nova Scotia in 2006 - doing presentations at schools in a couple of communities I'd not been to before. But this wasn't the first time that Voyageur had visited Cannington, home of the first school. Way back at the beginning of the project, I'd commissioned friend and Canadian guitar master Don Ross to write a piece for the guitar, which did not have a name at that point. Don was living in Cannington at the time and we figured it would be best if he had some time to spend getting to know the voice he'd be writing for. And so he took the guitar home for a couple of weeks and ended up writing a spectacular piece of music that he debuted with the guitar on CBC Radio back in 2006. The song went through a few variations and by the time it was in final form and ready to commit to tape, we had nicknamed the guitar Voyageur and so that's what Don ended up calling the piece. It appears on his 2012 album "Upright & Locked Position" on CandyRat Records.

Teacher Lindsay Bauer had seen the presentation back in the fall at the OMEA Conference and wanted to share the experience with her students. And for the "performance pocket", it was fitting that she lined up two performers: Richard McIntyre (pictured, left) has a grandkid at the school and he shared music from his generation (a medley of Gordon Lightfoot and Johnny Cash tunes) while Logan Keeler (pictured, right) - a recent graduate from McCaskill's who has moved on to the neighbouring high school - returned with a song of his own composition that perfectly reflected this stage of his life. It's rare but always a total thrill to hear original songs from the young people who play the guitar at these school presentations.

Thanks to all the staff and students at McCaskill's Mills and especially to the group of girls who came up to sing me "Happy Birthday" after the presentation!

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Prospecting for Performances @SPARCsymposium #Cobalt2018

If you know your “Voyageur periodic table” you’ll know that a piece of silver from the famed Beaver Mine in Cobalt Ontario is inlaid into the centre of the first fret. And if you already know that, you may also know it’s partly there to reflect the importance of what has been called “Ontario’s Most Historic Town” and partly there because of my own deep connection to Cobalt. It’s the town where my grandfather was mayor and provincial MPP, the town where my dad was born, the town where my cousins still live and the area where the whole extended family shares a cottage - just down the road at Bass Lake - where we’ve been coming since we were babies.

So it’s always very special to be able to make the presentation in Cobalt and even more special to work again with Felicity Buckell - a gentle but powerful and persistent force for developing cultural capacity and cultural demand in this community - this time as the local organizer of the SPARC Symposium, a gathering of remote and rural community arts presenters from around Ontario. Back in 2014, Felicity and I collaborated on building what I consider to be the gold standard of integrated education/outreach/community programming - including school presentations at local French, First Nations and English schools, songwriting workshops, community presentations and portraits - with her Pied Piper Kidshows organization, which was also a sponsor of this symposium.

Our activities with the symposium included participation in a panel (with Jack Langenhuizen of the Motus O Dance Company) at one of our favourite local haunts, the Chat Noir Book Store Cafe in New Liskeard; a presentation at the coolest bar in Northern Ontario, the Miner’s Tavern (our third presentation there over the years - a record) and portrait sessions at both the Miner’s and at SPARC HQ at the Community Hall (a former YMCA facility above what are now the town offices).

In truth, turnout of SPARC delegates at the Miner’s presentation was a bit disappointing but the crowd was fleshed out with locals and some visiting prospectors who were in the area prospecting for the mineral cobalt - much in demand these days for use in rechargeable batteries such as the ones used in Tesla and other electric vehicles. As you know, people come forward with the most amazing connections to the project at pretty much every presentation I do and this one was spectacular. One of the members of the prospecting team, Kevin Tateishi, approached me during the portrait sessions after the presentation and let me know the player with his arms folded second from the left in the bottom row of the 1941 team photo of the Vancouver Asahi baseball club that comes up in my presentation was his great uncle Ken Kutsukake. Just amazing!

Also amazing was having lead prospector Jessica Bjorkman bring some tools and cobalt-rocks into the photos AND finally getting a bunch of portraits with one of our favourite Cobalters, Miner’s proprietor and local councillor Rochelle Schwartz!

The “performance pocket” segment of the presentation was beautifully filled with original songs by Robyn Dewar, John Shymko (who also saved the day with the loan of his portable sound system!) and Temagami songwriter Dave Laronde taking his third turn on Voyageur over the years and proving yet again that there are some powerful songs and stories being told in this part of the country. After the show, as we were setting up for the portraits, Kevin Closs (in town for SPARC) did his extraordinary acoustic arrangement of "O Canada" for what was perhaps the 10th time over the years on Voyageur; local songwriter Alec Morrison covered a Grievous Angels tune in honour of local MP Charlie Angus (also speaking at SPARC on Cobalt’s vaudeville era in the boom-town years) and a young man (10? 12?) named Tanner Montgomery (pictured) - who travelled with his family from Thunder Bay to see the show, carrying his own electric guitar as an accessory, no less. Tanner got up on stage and wowed everybody with a passionately rendered fully acoustic version of the Tragically Hip’s “Grace, Too”.

Thanks to all the musicians, to Rochelle for her always perfect hospitality and to everyone who came out to see the show. Thanks to portrait station volunteers Peter & Lara Zwarich (at the Miner’s) and Kevin Closs and Jake Koza (at the Community Hall). Thanks to Paul McLaren at Chat Noir for hosting (and for the cortado!). And thanks, of course, to Felicity and her team for putting on such an important and critical gathering and inviting us to be a part of it.

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Back in the @SCDSB @NPSSnews

Jenna, James, Ryan & Jordan Getting used to this particular stretch of highway 400 - all the way to Barrie for the SCDSB back on May 10th, up to highway 11 on the way to Cobalt for the SPARC Symposium tomorrow and cutting off at Cookstown today on my way to Nottawasaga Pines Secondary School in Angus ON.

It's a great looking school, nestled into a complex with the local library and police station - with a big, bright common atrium right in the middle built around the well-equipped auditorium, where I was greeted backstage by the student crew captained by Dave. Teacher Jordan Hughes (pictured, right) who had seen my presentation at the OMEA conference, brought back the students slated to play in the "performance pocket" (l-r Jenna McCarthy, James Bridges and Ryan Cranston) so they could get comfortable with Voyageur before the show. Soundcheck and set up were accomplished in no time at all and we were ready for students to start filling the seats.

The school is located near Canadian Forces Base Borden - historic birthplace of the Royal Canadian Air Force and home to the largest training wing in the Canadian Armed Forces. That meant that a good third of the students in that audience were from military families. Knowing this, I planned to include a section on our work with veterans and the Canadian Forces College, which made the presentation a little longer than normal. All three performers were terrific - James doing "Freight Train", Jenna doing "Share the Land" and Ryan doing an original song (always great to hear from a student player!) but we came up right against the lunch bell at that point so there was no time for art teacher Chuck Baker to take his turn of for me to make my closing remarks. So instead we retired to the backstage as students headed off to lunch and a good clutch of 20 or so people hung out back there taking turns with Voyageur and doing photos. Chuck was there with his mother and his daughter, Ella, who sang harmony as he finally took his turn on the guitar with an original song entitled "Falling Down". I've posted the video on the Six String Nation YouTube channel with their permission.

Thanks to all the players today and all the staff and students at NPSS who attended today's presentation. Special thanks to Jordan Hughes.

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Honest Erb @abewrdsb

My name in... From Vista Hills it was a short drive (with time for a coffee stop) to my second school of the day, Abraham Erb Public School. And what a welcome! There was my name on the marquee out front. There was a parking spot right by the front door with name on the pylons. A sign on the door welcomed me by name and two students came out with signs to guide me to the library where the presentation would take place. On the way I got an enthusiastic greeting from teacher John Cummings, who had been my contact organizing the event and coordinating with Vista Hills. Positively royal treatment! And those weren't the only friendly faces. There was librarian Nora Davis, who had been one of our portrait station volunteers at our ETFO WRDSB event back at the end of November and then in walks teacher Laurie Beetham, who had hosted me for dinner on that same trip. ESL teacher (and staff shutterbug) Jeanette Voaden accompanied me down to the staff room to have a quick homemade snack and by the time I got back to the library, there was Michael Beetham, Laurie's husband and the educator who had consolidated a bunch of presentations for me in November in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. Michael is set to retire at the end of the school year but he figured this was the best chance to bring some of his students down from his own school to see the presentation one last time.

Since the presentation was in the smaller, less boom-y environs of the library, I didn't need the usual headset microphone really but Voyageur is not naturally a loud guitar so it would need a little help and there was nowhere to plug in on the portable system they had for the projector. Teacher Jason Walker sprung into action and tapped a student who lived nearby who he knew had a guitar amp at home. Within 10 minutes there was a Fender and we were set to go. For the first song in the performance pocket, Jason sang while teacher Simon Lewis played and harmonized on the Beatles' "Help" and then Simon took over solo for a rendition of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On".

After the presentation, the students filed past, touching Voyageur and asking a ton of questions and then we hung out for a while doing many photos. I'm not sure I'm permitted to link to the gallery Jeanette sent me but there's some good ones in there so if you're interested just do a search for Abraham Erb on Google Photos and you may find them!

Thanks to principal Heather Schumann and all the staff, students and family who showed up for the presentation.

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The View from Vista Hills @viswrdsb

Lee McWebb and Ty Rutherford I leave very little to chance when heading off to do a presentation at a new school. Well in advance, I GoogleMap the destination and plug in the hour I'm leaving in order to estimate the travel time as accurately as possible and then build in some extra time in case of unforeseen traffic issues, etc. Then, on the day of, I connect the iPhone to Bluetooth in the rental car, fire up a podcast and let Siri talk me to my destination. That's what I did last Friday on route to a couple of school presentations in the Waterloo Region District School Board. But in the final 10 minutes of my journey to the first school I began to wonder if I had needed the digital assistance at all - everything was looking very familiar. Had I actually been to Vista Hills Public School before? No! The route was taking me right past Edna Staebler Public School, where I'd presented back in November. A right turn past the school, a left turn at the edge of the subdivision, up the hill and into the new Vista Hills community. And there is was - possibly the grooviest public school architecture I'd seen in a long time. Brand spanking new and looking like if it hadn't been a building it would have been a beautiful design for a colour printer!

The presentation went very well and the students were terrific. One of my favourite things in the presentation is when I ask if anyone knows what makes a tree green and a very small hand goes up and a little person says "chlorophyll?". Vista Hills did not disappoint! The performance pocket featured two performers playing Voyageur, student Ty Rutherford and teacher Lee McWebb. Ty worked through an instrumental version of "Dust in the Wind" and then Lee played the school song, "You Can Be a Hero", which he wrote (seems Lee has a bit of a sideline writing songs for a bunch of area schools!). He had everyone singing along and clapping along in a way that was reminiscent of the clapping in Queen's "Radio Gaga" video! It turns out that this was actually Lee's second time playing Voyageur the first being at Tony McManus' guitar retreat in Elora back in 2011!

I was proud to be able to wrap up what was a pretty great week for Vista Hills. On Monday, teacher Tania Bumstead received the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence in STEM. Congratulations Tania!

Many thanks to teachers Tina Giannopoulos and Kristin Rahian and principal Don Oberle and to all the staff and students at Vista Hills.

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An Inspiring Day with @SCDSB_Schools

Clockwise from bottom left: Becky, Heather, Tracy, Shannon, Pauline and Bonnie. Over the years, I've spoken to many music teachers, been a "champion" for the Coalition for Music Education in Canada, been involved in many Music Monday events and presented twice to the Ontario Music Educators' Association. These have all been occasions to see educators dedicated to the idea that a robust music education benefits all other areas of learning - in school, at home and in the community. The impact is felt across all aspects of society and lasts a lifetime. And yet, most of these encounters have taken place against a backdrop of budget cuts and the de-emphasis of the role of music and the arts in school life. That's why my participation in Thursday's "Inspiring Music For Life" event with the Simcoe County District School Board was such a breath of fresh air!

The event brought together teachers and a small group of students from each of 30 schools from across the board at Georgian College in Barrie. In his opening remarks, supervisor Chris Samis talked about how this event was celebrating a rededication of efforts on behalf of the board to better resource music education in the region and make it a more prominent part of the educational experience for students and teachers - with 30 schools feeling the benefits this year, another 30 next year and a further 30 the following year. Together, they spent the day in workshops and seminars building tools to take back with them to their classrooms and music rooms for the remainder of this year and to get started fresh next September. It was an honour to be asked to get the day started with the Six String Nation keynote presentation and kind of set the tone for how music can infuse, inform and inspire every part of learning.

The "performance pocket" segment of the presentation was a little bit different than usual. Instead of one or two or three performers each playing a song to the accompaniment of the portrait slides, we had FOUR guitar players all playing ONE song - not quite Walk Off the Earth but a little bit. Jack Fitzgerald started with Mya Franks seated to his right playing percussion and Bella McCurdy singing. Bella kept singing while Jack handed the guitar off to Mya and Mya handed the bongos to Ethan McBrien and then Ethan played guitar and Ayden Franks played bongos and then Jack picked up the bongos while Ayden finished on Voyageur - Bella singing the whole time with barely a pause between handoffs. Pretty impressive! Teacher John Touchette (Mr. T.) rounded out the pocket with a little Simcoe County original reggae.

There wasn't time or budget to include our official portrait feature but they asked if it was OK to do class pictures with Voyageur following the presentation and I readily agreed. SCDSB media wiz Curtis Dafoe had set up a couple of green screens with iPad camera rigs and student volunteers. I went back and forth between the two set-ups while others wrangled the small classes into the alternating stations. It's the presence of the green screen that inspired me to make the photo for this blog - we didn't really go into the forest for this shot! While many were involved in making the day a success, this is a good representation of the organizing squad featuring (clockwise from lower left) Becky Kennedy, Heather Ellis, Tracy McPhail, Shannon Simpson, Pauline Cook and Bonnie Black. It was Bonnie who had seen me at the OMEA Conference in Huntsville back in November and invited me to be part of this inspiring event - so thank you Bonnie!

Thanks also to Chris Samis and all the teachers, students and workshop leaders for helping to launch such a great initiative by the SCDSB. Thanks also to Curtis Dafoe for his assistance and for shooting the presentation on video (hopefully we'll see a cut of that in the fall) and to Adam and Ron from the Georgian College tech crew for getting us set up so effortlessly. Thanks also to our old friend, Duct Tape Guy himself, Sean McGaughey, for sharing his own music and that of his son. It was great to hear that voice in transition and congrats on the new teaching gig!

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Friendliest Rattlesnakes Ever! @IAMETFOHalton #ETFO

James Shea & Jake Payne When I conceived the Six String Nation project it was intended to start a conversation about Canadian identity that was diverse and inclusive and went beyond the clichés without simply dismissing them. The pieces that went into Voyageur's creation told hundreds - if not thousands - of stories. But in the first flush of media attention that surrounded the project on its debut in 2006, the breakfast shows and news hits didn't have time for thousands or hundreds or even tens of stories. They all wanted to focus on the two or three most famous bits - the ones that most supported the clichéd understanding of Canadian identity. Ever since, I've been looking for a way to tell the story of Voyageur in a more fulsome way, to start more conversations, to inspire more inquiries into the dynamic and evolving nature of "Canadian-ness". And while I have had success connecting to festival and community and corporate audiences, naturally the places hungriest for exactly this kind of conversation are schools. And if I hope to inspire students with this project, I need to inspire teachers first. And I've been especially fortunate to have built a relationship with the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario over the course of a few events. Back in the fall, I gave my presentation at an ETFO event in Mississauga and two attendees of that meeting - Dave Buddell and Rob Smolenaars - invited me to come and present to the annual meeting of ETFO's Halton Region membership last night.

Taking the Bronte Rd. exit off the 403, one is struck by the number of directions to golfing facilities. The famed Glen Abbey is not far from there, Deerfield, several driving ranges, Oakville, Angel's View and three courses at Rattlesnake Point, where ETFO's meeting was taking place in the main clubhouse. It was a small group and they had important union business to attend to while Six String Nation photographer Doug Nicholson and I set up in an anteroom to do portraits following the presentation. Spot on 6 o'clock they wrapped up their voting and the presentation began.

As always, I ask event hosts to recruit one or more players to bring Voyageur to life near the end of the presentation. Dave and Rob found two players, Jake Payne (pictured, right) and Jamie Shea (pictured, left). Often, the folks who occupy this role feel compelled to cover some chestnut from the Canuck canon, which is fine - though I prefer to hear a wider range of expression. The best scenario from my perspective is when players play their own music - kind of staking their own claim on the musical map of the Six String Nation. And I was thrilled that both of these players did that in spectacular fashion last night: Jake with an instrumental written on guitar for his then girlfriend (now wife) eighteen years ago in spite of guitar not being his main instrument; and James with a song he wrote called "Home", inspired by the story of Johnny Oovaut and his son Alec, who suffered hypothermia and near death following two days on the ice after their snowmobiles broke down outside of Quaqtaq, Nunavik, QC, in November of 2013. It turns out James had played Voyageur once before: at an impromptu campfire singalong at the farm of our mutual friend Kathy Hill's father following the Summerfolk Festival in Owen Sound back in 2006!

Thanks again to ETFO Halton for inviting us to be part of their annual meeting, to Jake and Jamie for making such great music and to all the teachers who attended and came to get their portraits done after the presentation. Thanks also to Greg for handling tech in the room. And special thanks to Meaghan MacLeod for assisting at the portrait station and Mark Stupple for all his work both at the portrait station and in getting us all set up properly and on time.

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