Catch up with all the antics from our tour of Canada this summer, as we visit Toronto, Ottawa, Elora and Niagara-on-the-Lake. View our tour dates.
Toronto (6 July)
It’s day one of our second visit to this wonderful country and this time, we’re kicking off with a couple of days in Toronto, home of the Blue Jays and the CN Tower. After a long flight from London we decided to freshen ourselves up with a trip to the nearby Three Brewers for some German-style beer and much needed food. We were delighted to be joined by Joseph’s parents, who are somewhat shadowing us on this tour, and we’ll be catching up with them in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The next morning, some of us found the energy for an early search for coffee and breakfast, while others decided to wean themselves off the jet lag with an extra dose of sleep. We’ll leave it to you to guess who. Soon enough it was time to rehearse for our concert at the beautiful Toronto Oratory, revisiting our beloved Josquin’s Legacy programme. It was lovely to see so many people in attendance – all in all, a roaring success.
The next morning it was time to head to Ottawa for our next concert, but not before tracking down a specialist cricket shop, purchasing a decent bat alongside some stumps and balls. A huge shout out and thank you to Cricket Store Canada!
I’ll be handing over to Josh next, who will be letting you all know about our time in Ottawa.
Ottawa (8 July)
So, it’s on to our second stop of the tour, Ottawa. The last time we came to Canada it was the first concert on our tour, so it was really nice to revisit the city feeling slightly less jet-lagged this time.
In what seems to be becoming a G6 tradition, we managed to get another last-minute booking at Fraser Cafe for dinner, who incredibly remembered us from 4 years ago (hopefully for good reasons!) Once again we were looked after fantastically well and we’re already looking forward to coming back next time we’re in Ottawa.
The next morning, in order to burn off some calories from the previous evening, some of the group decided to try out a sport that, shock horror, didn’t involve a cricket bat or wickets: squash! Finally, after years of bowling wides, I was in my element. However, as music is seemingly never too far from our minds, this quickly turned into a performance opportunity as the acoustics were perfect for a quick sing through of some Regrets Chansons (I’m sure as Josquin would have originally intended these pieces to have been performed…) Keep your eyes posted on Facebook and TikTok for these!
Having freshened up it was time for our concert in the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre as part of the Music and Beyond Festival. English Motets was the programme tonight, plus a couple of newer additions from our recent Byrd recording and, apart from Joseph falling through an airduct mid-concert, it all went without a hitch to a very appreciative and knowledgable audience.
It’s always lovely to see familiar faces from previous tours and it was lovely to catch up with people after the concert and introduce them to our ever growing list of CDs. Last time we were here we only had 1 CD, now we have 5!
Elora (10 July)
Stop 3 on our Ontarian odyssey was the beautiful town of Elora, a firm favourite with the group, some of whom have been visiting since 2012. After five hours in the Chrysler we arrived at the beautiful Blackberry Bog, to the wonderful hospitality of Stan and Elizabeth, and their poodle/retriever Oliver. We took this opportunity to christen our cricket set, and played a very sweaty game in the garden. Subfielding duties were taken by Oliver, who was excellent at getting the ball from the bushes, but much much less good at returning them, instead choosing to deposit them in the nearby river. Rather like our cricketing exploits, 10 points for enthusiasm, 0 for execution.
Our concert in Elora was actually in the nearby town of Fergus, in the beautiful modern Catholic church of St Joseph. The concert was in the afternoon on an absolutely glorious day: the sun streamed in throughout, making the most of the light, airy space. The audience were a delight, and it was lovely to catch up with people after the concert, including a few keen beans who had also seen us in Toronto. After the concert we were treated to a delicious meal in Elora, followed by a rich and varied evening sampling the Elora Brewing Company’s full range of beers. A few sore heads the following morning for our journey to Niagara-on-the-lake, with the cooling ice wine vineyards in our sights!
Niagara-on-the-Lake (12 July)
We ended our tour in the beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, a short drive (by North American standards at least) from Elora. It was a wrench to leave our lovely Elora hosts and their gorgeous dog Oliver, who ran alongside the car as we left, obviously keen on another round of cricket.
Toronto’s skyline was just visible in the haze across lake Ontario when Josh and I made it to Mississauga Beach in Niagara-on-the-lake. While the rest of the team headed straight to the vineyards on bicycles, some of us required a slightly slower pace of life, and joined them after a coffee and a dip in the wonderful warm fresh water. The distinctive ice-wines of the region provided a very pleasant re-introduction to Canadian Wine Tasting and a short nap later we re-convened for dinner alongside Joseph’s parents in the wonderful Irish Pub in town.
Concert day dawned with predictable performance preparations in the form of an extended cricket and iced coffee session, with our new bails and stumps flying across the park in central Niagara-on-the-lake. We even taught some of the laws and our version of cricketing ‘technique’ to a holidaying German family! The wonderful, welcoming team at St. Mark’s were on hand for our concert set-up and I really enjoyed wrapping up the musical side of the tour with what has now really become a homely programme of some of our favourite English Motets.
A reception followed with Sam reprising his role on the ivories of our host’s grand piano, and we really enjoyed getting to meet some of the local patrons, whose hard work and generosity had made our concert possible. The following morning, it was time for a coffee, a quick stock-up of Ice-Wine and Maple Syrup, and ten minutes stuffing music and stumps into our bags.
It was really fantastic to catch up with the exploits of our founding Tenor II Robert Busiakiewicz for a quick refreshment at Toronto Pearson as our last tour event. We have really missed Rob since we last met up in 2018, and can’t wait to borrow him back for a tenor line or two next time we visit Canada. Over and Out!