Barrie 2018 – Tales from a Band Tour IV

Part Four

Tuesday 7th August arrived and it was just as hot as the previous week so there was no alternative but to spend the morning at Barrie’s Centennial Beach and have a dip in Kempenfelt Bay.


This proved ideal relaxation before the special concert that was to be held at the Westside Lutheran Evangelical Church in the evening. Not only was this to be the last concert in Canada but it was also the last concert with the band for a number of the players who would be too old to continue in September.

Word had got round about the excellence of the Band and over 200 people packed the church for what would be a very enjoyable but also emotional concert. The Town Crier opened the proceedings.

Each concert seemed to be better than the previous (if that could be possible) and Tuesday night’s was no exception with the band finishing on a high and receiving rapturous applause and standing ovations throughout the evening.

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More than a few tears were shed both in the Band and the audience and there is no question that Tewit had left an indelible impression on the people of Barrie.

Wednesday was the last full day of the visit and was spent in Toronto which is some 60 miles to the south of Barrie. After 6 days of sunshine it rained ☹️ ☔️.

First stop in Toronto was the CN Tower, a 1,815.3 ft communications and observation tower. Completed in 1976 it was the world’s tallest tower until 2007. As the weather wasn’t great that day here are a few views taken from the Tower later that week:

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Look out for a further account of some of the the things to see and do in Toronto.

Trying to leave Toronto during rush hour is easier said than done and so the journey back to Barrie was a little longer than the journey from Barrie had been in the morning. Unlike other days, our destination in Barrie was not the Allandale Recreation Centre; a car park we had come to know well. Instead we headed for the Knights’ of Columbus Hall for a farewell dinner with our host families. In addition to standard beef burgers there was a chance to sample moose and buffalo burgers…

…and a last opportunity to taste the Canadian delicacy of poutine* for those who had missed it so far.

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*poutine, for the uninitiated, is chips, cheese curds and gravy.

Following the meal, and thanks should go to Jean Maurice Pigeon and his family for the splendid spread, there was the formal cutting of the cakes, one of which perfectly summed up the feeling of the event.

…and so night fell on Tewit’s last day in Barrie…

Thursday 9th August, departure day, had come round far too soon. It was back to the Allandale Recreation Centre for the last time. With luggage and instruments safely stored in the coach it was time to bid farewell to our fantastic hosts who had looked after us so well for the last 9 days.

This had been a trip that will last long in the memories of all those involved and saw a further cementing of the relationship between Barrie and Harrogate. New friendships made, existing friendships strengthened and ideas for further exchanges and visits already being discussed.

Thanks team!

Thanks to the team of volunteers who have gone out to Luchon to prepare Harrogate’s float in the annual Fete des Fleurs in Luchon.

Thanks also to the Mayor, Cllr Bernard Bateman for adding his support.

Each one of the dahlia heads has been glued in by hand. There are thousands of them!


Barrie 2018 – Tales from a Band Tour III

Part Three

It’s Sunday and it’s Kempenfest, one of the largest arts and crafts festivals in North America, boasting over 350 exhibitors as well as antiques, food and music…which is where Tewit Band come in as they led off Sunday’s proceedings on the RBC’s Indie Stage.


It was a another blistering day; hats and sun screen strongly recommended but again there was a very appreciative crowd.

The Mayor of Barrie, Jeff Lehman, also came along to listen to the band and meet members for a chat during the interval. If we had known in advance we could have asked Mayor Jeff to join in; he plays drums with his own band ‘Sonic Coalition’. A quick search on Youtube will provide the evidence!

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After the concert members of the Band added their pictures to the ‘Art in House project’ photo board; a graphic display of Downtown Barrie. The Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery seems to have been a popular location for Harrogate’s former mayor and consort Michael Newby and Clive Kirkham.

Once all the photos were in place everybody met under Barrie’s landmark sculpture for a group photo. The Spirit Catcher was originally created by sculptor Ron Baird for Expo 86 in Vancouver and installed in Barrie in 1987. It stands 25 m (70 ft) wide by 21 m (65 ft) tall.

Monday saw Tewit on their travels again with two historic sites on the itinerary. First stop was Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, a reconstruction of a French Jesuit settlement built in 1639 in the land of the Wendat people. The French abandoned the settlement in 1649.

From Sainte-Marie among the Hurons we travelled on to Discovery Harbour and one of the Band’s more unusual concert venues. Discovery Harbour traces its roots back to the original British naval and military base in Penetanguishene, built to safeguard access to Upper Canada after the War of 1812.

As rain was threatening the outdoor concert was moved indoors to the building that houses the hull of H.M.S. Tecumseh, reportedly sunk in 1828.

Following the performance there was just enough time for a kickabout before returning to Barrie.


Barrie 2018 – Tales from a Band Tour II

Part Two

After two days of concerts and a fair amount of travelling and with temperatures into the high 30s a day spent in Barrie was very welcome. Even more welcome was a ‘pool party’ laid on at the home of one of our host families. Although not verified by the Guinness Book of World Records, Tewit Band now holds the record for most people in this particular pool at one time: 30…plus some crazy adults!

Meanwhile the ‘official’ HIP delegation was touring City Hall and an exhibition dedicated to Sir Robert Barrie, the man whose heritage brought Harrogate and the City of Barrie together.

During the tour we did notice a couple of very familiar pictures outside the Mayor’s Office.


Readers of Part One will remember that a Yorkshire flag was presented to Barrie at the welcoming reception. By Friday it was proudly flying alongside the flags of Barrie, Ontario and Canada outside City Hall.


In the afternoon we were introduced to the history of Barrie on a walking tour led by Town Crier, Steve Travers. In his inimitable style he told us tales of the characters who had made early Barrie and pointed out features and buildings that we might otherwise have missed.

Barrie has a great waterfront (and a beach!) and it was here that we headed in the afternoon for something new for all the group: dragon boats. We were all asked if we had any experience in a canoe or kayak. ‘Yes’, said some. ‘Well forget all that’, said the instructor! A little light paddling to start and then a tightly fought race (the photo shows the blue boat clearly ahead!) before heading off for a foray along the shoreside and a view of where the Band would be playing on Sunday.

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Saturday was a different experience altogether as the Band set off for Blackdown Cadet Camp. Tewit performed as part of a massed band of 106 musicians for an hour and a half in the middle of a parade of 1,274 cadets in full band uniform on a military parade ground with temperatures over 30 degrees (mid 80s in old money). This certainly required endurance, stamina and concentration which Tewit pulled off effortlessly.

Sir Thomas Ingiliby, who acted as the Reviewing Officer, said afterwards, “I will never forget the faces of the Canadian cadet band when the Tewit Youth Band performed a few numbers in the Band Rooms afterwards: they were absolutely gobsmacked by the musical ability on display and sat open-mouthed during some of the solos.”

Thank you to the Blackdown Cadets for not only making us feel so welcome but also for providing the following video of the visit.

After a visit to the Base Borden Military Museum the Band returned to Barrie.

Look out for part three which will feature Kempenfest and a rather unusual concert venue.

Barrie 2018 – Tales from a Band Tour I

Part One

After a year of fundraising, numerous transatlantic conference calls and a 3,400 mile journey the Tewit Youth Band arrived in Barrie on 31st July. A welcome ceremony was held in Barrie’s City Hall along with a first meeting with our host families who would be looking after us for the next 10 days. A full spread was laid on (the first of many hence the extra pounds put on during the tour) and there were welcomes from Barrie’s International Committee, civic representatives and the town crier. Just a flavour of the fantastic hospitality that Barrie would show us throughout the rest of the tour.

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There was also just enough time to present Barrie with a Yorkshire flag to celebrate Yorkshire Day…but more of this later.


It was an early start on 1st August as we departed for Niagara Falls. Passing through the Niagara vineyards (but not stopping ☹️) and the picturesque town of Niagara-on-the-Lake we stopped off at Brock’s Monument at Queenstown Heights (another reminder of the War of 1812; a subject on which band members would be experts by the end of the tour!). A few brave folk climbed the 235 steps to the top whilst others admired the views from a slightly lower point.

Then on to Niagara Falls and a trip on the ‘Horn Blower’ with a ‘full mist experience’* (plastic pink ponchos provided) and a memorable  way to celebrate Yorkshire Day.

*for ‘full mist’ read ‘absolute drenching’

After sampling the delights of downtown Niagara it was time to move on to St Andrew’s United Church, Niagara for a BBQ supper and the first concert of the tour. An enthusiastic audience enjoyed a full programme by Tewit Youth Band setting a pattern for performances that were to follow.


In the meantime a very special tribute to the Band was being set up nearby. Thanks to the help of a member of the Ontario provincial parliament we were allowed to light up the Falls in Tewit’s colours. What an honour!


The second full day saw a slightly more civilised departure time as we set off for Gravenhurst, ‘the Gateway to the Muskoka Lakes’. This small town’s population almost trebles in the summer with the arrival of townsfolk coming to stay in their cottages. Gravenhurst’s theatre is just one year younger than Harrogate’s and like Harrogate has its own ghost and is called the Opera House, just as Harrogate Theatre used to be. Check out the original seating; notice anything particular?

Trinity United Church was very welcoming (but spot the spelling error) and there was a full house for the concert. There was even dancing in the aisles to some of Tewit’s more upbeat numbers. Thank you to Dan (who visited Harrogate last year with the King Edward Choir) for organising this event.

As the temperatures in Ontario soared the band took a welcome break in Gull Lake under the eagle eye of lifeguard (and friend from last year’s King Edward Choir visit to Harrogate) Elias.

…and so the second full day came to an end…but not before two band members left with their host family in style.

Keep coming back to this website for further pics and accounts of Tewit’s Canadian adventure.