Concluding our story about the Woodroffe High School Band… I was very lucky to be included in this monster trip as I had been a member of the junior band for only a year when moved up to the senior band. We were going on this tour to further our musical education and give us a greater appreciation of our Canadian citizenship. How honoured and excited we were to participate in this, led by our great band leader Mr. Peter F. Manley.
Preparations for the month long trip included raising $15,000 to cover transportation and other costs. Profits included bottle drives, bake sales, Christmas card drives, concerts, dances and selling light bulbs. A very active parents committee helped with all the work. We even made the Ottawa Journal newspaper. Then it was off to the west by train.
We boarded the train in the old downtown Ottawa train station after hugging our parents goodbye. I remember being so excited that I could not sleep. We hurtled through northern Ontario and on to north of Superior. What an immense land of lakes and trees! Finally we arrived in Winnipeg about 40 hours later totally exhausted. I was sent to the YMCA, some others were billeted or in hotels. The next day we played our first concert in front of 500 people in Central Park. It was a big success! We had a day trip to the International Peace Gardens on the North Dakota border. Phew, now it was on to Saskatoon. We continued on our way by train from Saskatoon to Edmonton, Peace River, New Westminster (Vancouver) BC, Banff, Calgary, Regina and back through Winnipeg. The Rockies were spectacular. I remember playing at the Kitsilano Showboat in Vancouver, a trip to the beach in White Rock, BC, going to the Calgary Stampede and climbing the Legislative Building tower in Regina to see the prairie in the distance on all four sides. We were rained out in Edmonton and had a very long 500 KM bus trip to Peace River. In addition to Mr. Manley, there were 3 other chaperones on the trip – Joe Nuth who looked after the finances, Arthur Very equipment and Joy Kingsbury who looked after the girls. We were closely watched but with 50 plus students and all those logistics to manage, we found lots of time to party freely. It’s safe to say that the senior members taught us junior members a thing or two other than music lol. All in all the trip was a great success and we arrived back in Ottawa with quite a swagger.
Mayor Don Reid wrote: “The Woodroffe High School Band is one of the leading high school bands in the Province of Ontario. Ottawa is proud of its high school bands, and this particular group of musicians has brought great credit and honour to our city. In their travels across Canada in the summer of 1966 these ambassadors represented not only the Collegiate Institute Board of Ottawa, but also the Nation’s Capital. I have much pleasure in commending to you the efforts and talents of these young people.” Wow!
I remember us playing Bobby Gimbi’s “Canada” song throughout 1967 including in front of Prince Philip on Parliament Hill. In Grade 12 I decided to take up the tenor saxophone and gave up my flute position in the band. In Grade 13 I took a full slate of maths and sciences and dropped music completely. It had been a great educational and life experience. I am forever indepted to Mr. Manley and the other music teachers I had for instilling in me a life long love of music, and travelling! My favorite piece remains the finale from Dmitri Shostakovich’s 5th symphony Allegro non troppo, which we played sometimes with great difficulty.