Hardy Buoys

Just one of the monuments in Rotary Park, Port Hardy.

Technically speaking, Mile 0 of the TransCanada Highway is at the intersection of Douglas and Dallas streets in Victoria BC but it jags up to Nanaimo on the eastern side of Vancouver Island as a kind of extra branch. From there, provincial highway 19 extends the TCH way up to the north end of the island. And if you take that road right to the very end you'll find yourself at Rotary Park in Port Hardy BC.

Elizabeth Aman-Hume had seen my presentation at the Destination BC conference in Victoria a couple of years ago where she was attending in her role with the Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce. As a former orchestra manager with a tonne of experience around the world, it was only natural the she also take on the role of director of the North Island Concert Society and it was in that role that she invited me to be the launching act of their 2018/2019 season. As is so often the case with communities far flung from my home base in Toronto, I recommend to organizers that they maximize the impact of my visit (and expand their outreach potential) by organizing additional appearances at local schools and other community events. Elizabeth took that suggestion to heart and arranged for a couple of school visits as well as a FacebookLive event with help from the North Island Gazette, who were the media sponsor for the event.

Teacher Frank MacLean and student Ben Coward, players at PHSS.

Our first school stop was at Port Hardy Secondary School - yet another great school audience with performances on Voyageur at the end by student Ben Coward and teacher Frank MacLean. Inspired by spying Eddie Schwartz' portrait in the presentation, Frank lead students in an impromptu rendition of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot"!
Thanks also to principal Adrian Pendergast and all the staff and students at PHSS.

Angela Hagen plays Voyageur at Eagle View

Next up, Eagle View Elementary School. 
Principal Jillian Walkus had asked whether she might invite the grade 3 students. Normally, I say the presentation is for grades 5 and up but increasingly I'm finding that grade 4 students are aware of some of the more delicate subjects raised by the presentation. But grade 3s? I always worried they're going to be bored and restless and that much of it will just be blah-blah-blah for them. But they were a rapt group - hung on every word! Not only that - teacher Angela Hagen, who had volunteered to play Voyageur in the "performance pocket", organized a group of grade three students to accompany her on a rendition of "Land of the Silver Birch" for an encore!

We would see Angela again at the Civic Centre show as a member of the Sisters of Song choir playing a 1948 Martin inherited from her uncle - another storied guitar to add to a weekend of guitar stories. That's her with both guitars in the picture below.

Angela Hagen with Voyageur and her late uncle's Martin OOO (on which Voyageur is based)

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