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.
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.