Historical Connections - Ontario Tour, February 12, 2013

Feb 12, 2013

Historical Connections - Ontario Tour, February 12, 2013

Christopher Verrette, violin

Wanda Keith, our presenter in Goderich, welcomed us with a homecooked meal at the concert venue, North Street United Church. It is another lovely brick church, with lots of wood inside, smaller than Trinity St.-Paul's, with a slightly rounded shape to the seating, and a wooden stage - something we expect to have at home next season. The acoustics there are straight-forward, and no students appeared to listen in, so the rehearsal was efficient and we got a little extra time to rest before the evening performance. That said, times like these are opportunities to get some preparation done for whatever is coming next for the busy musicians of Tafelmusik. Especially with a tour of the memorised House of Dreams show not too far over the horizon, we like to take advantage of being gathered together for "playdates" for grownups (if we qualify). Given that for many of us, the House of Dreams is actually the thing coming up after two or three other things, there were rival playdates happening in separate rooms of the church when I arrived for the concert. This being the only overnight stay this tour, the afternoon was also valuable for laying in provisions for the inevitable post-concert party.

Goderich Church
Rehearsing in Goderich at North Street United Church.  R.H. Thomson, standing.

We are staying in the nearby Hotel Bedford, an historic building with a cupola on the town's courthouse "square", which is famous for being octagonal, actually. So streets radiate off of the town center in even more directions that the rotaries I grew up with in New England that could be so mysterious to visitors. Some of these end necessarily at Lake Huron. I took a walk there for the view, not the wind, of which there was plenty, and found that one of these streets is actually the terminus of the Huron Road that begins in Guelph and was built by John Galt of the Canada Company. Unlike other places on this trip, European contact came early to this location: Samuel de Champlain landed here in 1618, when it was the First Nations community of Menesetung. Richard Neale might have found it on a map, or perhaps read about it in the chronicles of Champlain's voyages. It occurs to me that at that early date, and as a Frenchman at sea most of the time, Champlain had probably not yet heard a piece of Baroque music when he first set foot here.   

Not far from here is a monument to the Great Storm of 1913, which destroyed several ships, damaged others, and cost many lives; Goderich was also hit by a severe tornado in 2011.

I was curious about the name Orangeville: did it have to do with William of Orange? Or maybe the place in France from which the earliest Verets (spelling intentional!) in Canada came sometime in the 1600's? Or is there just a particularly large concentration of snowbirds living here? (Edwin and I established yesterday that it has nothing to do with the colour of his hair.) With the help of Ontario Place Names, by David E. Scott, I have established that it was the FIRST name of the first postmaster of the town, one Orange Lawrence. Because of the cancellation in Goderich, this will be the only performance specifically for schools on the trip, in this case the Orangeville District Secondary School, (who also welcomed us with a meal) and we will do an abbreviated version of Baroque London without intermission.

See you next week!

Orange Lawrence, the first postmaster of Orangeville, ON

Editor's Note - the 'See you next week!' refers to our Requiem concerts, which are selling out quickly!

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