Vancouver Island to Toronto by Air Canada and back by Via Rail, October 2012
The Laurentians-Then and Now
50 Year Reunion
“How do you keep the music playing?”
Thanksgiving this year (2012) coincided with a well planned visit to Ontario. We were going to the centre of gravity of Deanne’s maternal family, the Victoria Harbour, Midland, Penetanguishene area of Southern Georgian Bay. We were going to reconnect to family and friends in Ontario while in relatively good health, realizing that good health at the best of times is unsustainable, let alone at an age beyond three score and ten. There were two other desirable facets to the early October trip: the seasonal beauty of leaves in transition in Central Canada and a long anticipated trans-continental train ride by Via Rail back to the West Coast.
While planning the trip we reconnected through email with a group of people who had played a part in our lives fifty years ago. Although contact through the years had been discontinuous and sporadic, there remained a suspicion that the relationships we had established among us would have survived, more or less intact. We agreed to meet for supper at the Mandarin Restaurant in Oshawa when we were in the Toronto area after our Georgian Bay return.
We did meet October 11th at the appointed place at the appointed time. What caught us by surprise at that meeting was the ease with which the relationships returned. A social group DNA must have been laid down in our common pursuits of fifty years ago.
We were after all, ostensibly, an early garage band, the Laurentians, born sometime in 1958 or 1959. Over time the composition of the musical ensemble fluctuated in number and varied in personnel. The group was reconstituted after some of its original members left the Oshawa area between 1963 and 1964. That later ensemble lasted until the late 1960s.
If music had been the dominant commonality, the demise of the group would have written the end of our relationship. With the passage of fifty years what became increasingly obvious was the fact that the music was the back story to the the real narrative: the tentative transition of a group of young men to adulthood through shared social activities done more or less in unison, in the same time and in the same places.
The Way we Were
The photo gallery below, of the group of young men in the incarnation of the Laurentians between 1959 and 1964, reveals evidence that music was, in fact a peripheral activity, a kind of pretext to acting out, trying out behaviors, exploring who we were individually as well as collectively: an exploration as much for ourselves as for others. Canoeing and fishing figure more prominently than music in the record of activities of the group. The pursuit of bass and trout and annual canoe trips in the Haliburton district were as important preoccupations as the engagements we had for parties and dances.
The evidence in the photos below also points to the importance of the Warne and Richardson families whose house and cottage supplied the backdrop to the coming of age of the many young men who frolic and display themselves for the camera. The Warne farmhouse on Park Rd. in Oshawa and the Warne/Richardson cottage on Kennisis Lake were the venues along with the church and service club halls in and around Oshawa where we cemented our relationships. In the short span of 4-5 years, for some of us, the garage band had evolved to some extent into a band of brothers.
Thank you Dave for traveling 8 hours from Traverse City, Michigan to Oshawa to join us. Thank you Joy and Gord for coming from Brighton to Oshawa. Thank you Judy and Jerry Manilla for hosting the after supper get together. Thank you Richardsons, Eleanor, Johnny and Bev for being there. It was lovely to see you all again. To all the participants, then and now,”thanks for the memories.”
“With any luck then I suppose
The music never ends.”
(Alan and Marilyn Bergman)
Contributions from the photo albums of Gord and Joy McRae, Jerry and Judy Manilla, Dave Warne and Deanne Girvan
The Laurentians, 2012