History of the Bands in Goderich
The history of bands in Goderich stretches back to 1856, when the first Citizen's Band was formed. Even before that, there are records of Goderich bands playing to honour the birthday of King George IV in 1832, and of musical interludes between rowdy skirmishes during our first elections.
In 1927, under the direction of C. R. Wilkinson, the Goderich Band won third prize at the C.N.E. In the Twenties, the band sometimes performed as a Clown Band, and was extremely popular. In the Fifties, the band became known as the Bluewater Band, and many fine musicians got their start in this band. One of them, W.O. Bob Fowler CD, joined the Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces playing harp and percussion. Along with the Bluewater Band, there was a girls trumpet band of about thirty girls who traveled about the area, acting as a good will ambassador for Goderich.
In 1960, interest in bands waned, and all the bands folded. It wasn't until 1967 that a group of citizens got together and formed a new band under the leadership of Charles Kalbfleisch. They were supported by the Kinsmen, and met in the High School. Music was taught after hours and early in the morning before classes. This was the start of what has grown into the music program at Goderich District Collegiate Institute. Many young musicians first picked up a horn to play with this new band.
The band took the name of the Goderich Laketown Band when the Town of Goderich took over supporting it. Since that time, the Legion took a turn as sponsor, and for the past decade, the Lions Club has helped support it. The Lions Club built the band shell in Harbour Park in 1974, and the Goderich Laketown Band started sponsoring summer concerts there every Sunday night. These concerts proved to be very popular, and are to this day a part of the summer attractions to Goderich.
The Band has played in Truro Nova Scotia, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Bay City, as well as many venues closer to home. In 1983, the Band traveled to Truro as guests of the Truro Citizen's Band. There they played many concerts, including one in Halifax in front of the Bluenose II.
The Goderich Laketown Band takes part in many parades in this area, and is a participant in the annual Christmas concert, as well as sponsoring the Sound of Goderich every spring. We are a group who has a lot of fun.
We have been fortunate with our leaders. All of them have been excellent musicians who have demonstrated a keen interest in instrumental groups. They can be credited for helping keep the love of music alive and for this we will be forever thankful.
Bandmasters of Goderich: Z.E. Osmond (1856); A. Heindike; George Stewart; Reg Blackstone; M. Scott; Wm. Davis; Harvey Jenner; C.R. Wilkinson (1927); Gethin Davis; John Huckins; Charles Woods; Frank Shubert; Cap Bishop; Al Close; Charles Kalbfleisch (1967); Irla Stewart; Wayne Taylor; Al Mullin; Marlene Storey; Robert Blackwell; Jim Ford; Blake Smith; Bruce Cookson; Elayne Ras; Hugh McGregor
— Order is general; many directors have retired and come back over the years. —
History of Goderich Laketown Band
In Canada's Centennial Year of 1967 the Goderich Kinsmen Club was having no success whatever in acquiring bands to participate in the annual July 1st parade. The late Gordon Bannister, a long time Kinsman, conceived the idea of tapping into the wealth of experienced former bandsmen in Goderich to form their own band.
Kinsman, Dr. Jim Peters, a life-long participant in instrumental music, joined forces with Mr. Bannister and other interested Kinsmen to try to organize the desired band. Charles Kalbfleisch, a history teacher at the local high school, Goderich District Collegiate Institute, accepted the roll of bandmaster in addition to his duties as bandmaster of the Zurich Concert Band. As a teacher at GDCI, Mr. Kalbfleisch devoted countless hours of his own time to training interested students in instrumental music. As a result of his love and dedication to instrumental training, music eventually became a part of the school's official curriculum.
The Goderich Kinsmen Band, consisting of retired bandsmen and eager high school students, under the direction of Charles Kalbfleisch, made its first public appearance in the July 1st, 1967 parade. The band continued to grow with the help of a weekly band clinic conducted by the bandmaster and attended by those interested in learning to play an instrument.
In 1969 Goderich Town Council decided it would relieve the Kinsmen of the expense of sponsoring the local band and granted the band an annual grant. This grant was discontinued after several years as a cost-cutting measure. Since that time the band has received annual financial support from the Goderich Lions Club, the Goderich Rotary Club, and Branch 109 of the Royal Canadian Legion. The band also helps itself financially with earnings from concerts and parades.
The change in sponsorship from the Kinsmen to the Town of Goderich necessitated a name change and thus the band organized a "Name The Band" contest for the citizens of Goderich. The winning entry, "The Goderich Laketown Band,” was submitted by the late George Jenner, a former longtime Goderich bandsman. The name selection committee was comprised of Dr. Frank Mills (mayor of Goderich), Shirley Keller (editor of the Signal-Star), and Don McMillan (Band President).
The band's initial practice facility was a room off the old firehall located on Waterloo Street. The eventual opening of the "music room" in the high school provided the Laketown Band with an ideal practice facility. The band still practices at GDCI at 7:30pm each Monday.
In 1970 the late Town Councillor Walter Sheardown, a former bandsman, suggested to the band's executive that Sunday evening band concerts in Harbour Park might be well received. His suggestion followed Town Council's decision to ban tent camping and trailers from Harbour Park. His idea rose from the fact that back in the 1930s, Sunday evening band concerts held on the old wooden carousel type bandstand in court house park had been very popular. The Goderich Band of that era was directed by the late John Huckins who later became the town's mayor. The Laketown Band's director, Charles Kalbfleisch, and the band's executive, accepted Mr. Sheardown's suggestion and plans for Sunday evening Harbour Park concerts got underway. The late town councillor Reg Jewell, parks chairman, provided what had been the base of the wrestling ring at the old natural ice arena, at the north-west corner of West and Waterloo Streets, as a start for a bandstand. Harold Jeffery of John Jeffery & Son, Building Supplies, a trombonist with the Laketown Band, constructed a back and roof and thus the concerts were underway. Bands such as the Norwich Musical Society Band, Paris Citizens' Band, Clinton Pipe Band, and the Mount Forest Pipe Band all participated at well below their usual fee in an effort to help the Laketown Band establish the Sunday evening concerts. As a result of the success of the concerts the Goderich Lions Club, in 1974, very generously provided the well crafted beautiful band stand that is still used in Harbour Park. The band stand was designed by Bill McKee of Goderich Manufacturing and constructed by Peter Brander Construction (a Lion). Numerous visiting bandsmen have expressed admiration for this bandstand with its excellent acoustics.
The Goderich Laketown Band is justly proud of its record of having originated, administered and financed the summer concerts for forty-seven consecutive years.
In the 1970's Mrs. Irla Stewart, a piano teacher and a very accomplished musician, succeeded Charles Kalbfleisch as the Laketown Bandmaster. During Mrs. Stewart's tenure as bandmaster she conceived the idea of an annual spring concert encompassing all the public musical groups in the town. The late Joe Herdman, music director at St. George's Anglican Church, came up with the name "The Sound of Goderich." After several years of well attended concerts "The Sound of Goderich" was extended to also include an annual Christmas Concert. These two annual concerts still attract large audiences.
The year was 1983, and after several months of planning, the day for the Laketown Band's exchange with the Truro, Nova Scotia, Concert Band had arrived. An excited group, under the direction of bandmaster Blake Smith, boarded the train in Stratford early one morning and the journey had begun. It was a much more subdued group that disembarked at Truro more than twenty-four hours later. A night of very little sleep had taken its toll but the enthusiastic greetings by the host band at the Truro station soon had the Goderich Band "raring to go" once again. What followed was a memorable five days with several concerts at various locations in Truro and one on the pier at Halifax beside the famous racing schooner Bluenose II. Here they flew the Goderich flag during the concert. The Laketown Band also participated in the annual Lobster Fest Parade in Pictou, N.S. and proudly represented our hometown. The band was able to find time to do some sightseeing at the Tidal Bore and Peggy's Cove and was treated to a Lobster Feast by our hosts one evening, complete with boiling pots and live lobsters.
The following summer the Laketown Band hosted the Truro Concert Band and was proud to show their members the sights and sounds of Goderich and have them play at one of the Sunday Evening Band Concerts at Harbour Park.
The band was invited to a parade in Burlington and here are the pictures to prove it.
Truro, Nova Scotia
A band exchange occurred in 1983 between the GLB and Truro Concert Band from Truro Nova Scotia.
During the past forty years the Laketown Band has taken part in numerous parades and for the most part were without incident. However, there are a few that were memorable such as:
(a) The instruments freezing at a Santa Claus parade and playing 75% of the parade with drums only.
(b) At a rural parade a horse escaped the field in which it was grazing and trotted up behind the Laketown Band. As the band scattered one of the band's young female clarinetists (who loved horses) caught the horse by the halter and held it until a bystander took over.
(c) A farmer's field was the parking lot for parade participants. One of the Laketown's male members had a field mouse run up his leg under his pants. Despite two ladies being close by he immediately dropped his pants.
(d) As the result of a parade taking place on a very hot, humid day, mixed with showers, the entire band, on boarding the bus for home, discovered the white shirts and blouses, worn under the red band jackets, were now various shades of pink.
(e) One town, short of bands for its parade, inserted the Laketown Band twice more after it had already marched the route once.
our 40th Reunion
August 2007 - 40th Reunion of the Goderich Laketown Band.
Elayne Ras, while attending the University of Western Ontario, where she majored and graduated in violin performance as well as acquiring a degree in psychology. After graduating in 1987, Miss Ras took up residence in Goderich. At this time she founded the very successful Huron String School and joined the Laketown Band as a clarinetist. Very soon after becoming a member the need for a new bandmaster arose and she responded in a positive manner to the band executive's request to assume leadership. For nineteen years her musical talent, perseverance and dedication created a great sense of stability and progress in the band.
The Laketown Band has been most fortunate in acquiring Hugh McGregor, the Goderich District Collegiate music director, as its new bandmaster. Mr. McGregor came to GDCI in 1978 immediately after graduating from the University of Western Ontario with a bachelor of music degree. During his twenty-nine years of residency in Goderich, he has taught music at both the Goderich Collegiate and Central Huron Secondary in Clinton.
The Laketown Band has former members scattered coast to coast in Canada, as well as in the USA and Australia. On the reunion weekend in July 2007 many old friendships were renewed. Some of the returnees kept up their music and sat in with the band at the Sunday evening Harbour Park concert.
The Goderich Laketown Band has continued non-stop for over fifty years thanks to a dedicated and persevering core of veterans who love music.