Arbutus Singers

Written by Harold McNeill on June 4th, 2012. Posted in Book & Movie Reviews

Below: Arbutus Singers Performing at
First Metropolitan United Church

June, 2012: Photos of Arbutus Singers courtesy of Nadine Schaddelee

December 5, 2012 Another stellar performance by the Arbutus Singers, this time a return engagement at St. Aiden’s Church. Jack Boomer, the Musical Director, is always at his best, not only as he lead the choir, but also with his easy going manner as he engaged the capacity crowd of 400.

As promised to the neighborly folks with whom we shared front and centre seats, the following photographs have been added. A few words about the Choir and last springs presentation follows below. 

June 1, 2012 Victoria, BC

Having so enjoyed the Christmas 2011 performance, Lynn and I returned for another wonderful evening of music and song with the Arbutus Singers who were joined by the Arbutus Kids Choir for several songs.  As an added bonus Lynn and I were greeted with a sprinkling of the Cold High School years as Dawna McGowan (Soprano) and her husband Kim (Tenor) are long standing members of the Arbutus Singers.

Also Dawna’s twin sister, Shirlee McCorkle and her husband Ross, now both of Kelowna, were in the capacity crowd at the First Metropolitan United Church. Fifty years have elapsed since Shirlee, Ross and I last met and, amazingly when taken as a group, it seems that not one of us has aged a day. Ahh, but perhaps the older mind can play tricks or is it that wonderful singing that keeps one young?

The singers, under the artistic leadership of Music Director Jack Boomer, provided the crowd with stirring performances of California Dreamin’, Feeling Groovy, One Tin Soldier, Miss Saigon, Fiddler on the Roof, Yesterday, Greased Lightening and Big Yellow Taxi, among other timeless classics. Accompanyment by Robyn McKinnon on the keyboard (that young woman has now been with the Arbutus group for the past ten years), Jody Onuma, playing the ‘fiddler’ from the upper balcony (guess which song that might have been), Joe Hatherill, on the sax and flute and Paul Longley on the guitar, rounded out the evenings musical adventure.

The crowd, with a mix of ages, that, I shall have to admit, tended toward graying rock and rollers and boomers, clearly appreciated the considerable time and effort the director, singers and musicians have devoted to perfecting the performance.  A superb rendition of “It’s a Wonderful World” performed along with the Kids Choir, drew another of several standing ovations.

As a special gift to and in recognition of the inspiring leadership of the Arbutus Singers in introducing hundreds of children to the wonderful world of choir music, the Telus Foundation presented the organization with a cheque for $10,000 to help promote music amongst children through the Arbutus Community Outreach Program.

Each is to be commended for their inspiring work both on and off the stage.  If you have a chance, log onto their Web Site (Link Here). I am sorry to report that June 2, was the final concert of this season, but log in in September, to find the dates of next season’s performances, then attend. Guranteed, you will not be disappointed.


The Kids Choir

Kids with the Arbutus Singers

Now, would the following be “Men in Black” or “Greased Lightening”?


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  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold

  • Terrance

    January 5, 2019 |


  • Harold McNeill

    December 23, 2018 |

    Thanks Sis. I will be uploading as Hi-Def so the photos can be viewed full screen. Brother

  • Louise

    December 21, 2018 |

    Amazing collection of photos of the weekend ❤️❤️

  • Harold McNeill

    December 21, 2018 |

    Hi Dave,

    Not sure if you are the same Armit as was at Oak Bay PD or not. Interesting to see your comment on Danny Cain and your birthdays and family friendships. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 19, 2018 |

    Thanks, Lynn. It appears there was a problem with the comment system. Cheers, Harold

  • lynnmcneill

    November 19, 2018 |

    Hi Harold – looks great!

  • Maurice Smook

    August 13, 2016 |

    Hi Jillian,

    I don’t know if you are still checking this site but I had to respond again. February of 2017 it will be 72 years since this battle occurred.

    What caught my attention about this incident was on the Go Deep Documentary that aired on the History Channel. First of all I never known that this battle having ever occurred.

    According to my grade 3 teacher WW2 had never occurred. That grade 3 teacher stated that the WW2 and the holocaust was all propaganda. All of my classmates they believed her. I hate to say this but all I knew was that soldiers shooting at each other.

    I almost was expelled from school. My

    Mom my Dad my brother and my Uncle would have been arrested for propaganda. I paid the price. It was ironic a grade 5 teacher told me that Smooks are all commies. Dad was Conservative.

    All the Smooks that I known are all Conservative. If I had the money I would have loved to sue those two teachers.

    As I said I never heard of this Battle. If it were not for that program I would have never had known.

    I started to do more researching to find out more about the history of this battle. The narrator of Go Deep mentioned the names of the pilots who died that battle.

    I missed 20 minutes of that program but the camera crew had the camera’s pointed towards the sign with the names of the deceits. That is how I known.

    According to the narrator There are three who are still missing. W.J. Jackson, Harry Smook and A. Duckworth. A couple of months ago the staff of Go Deep have located Harry and A. Duckworths aircraft. This is on you tube. Harry and A. Duckworth craft is approx 650 feet deep in the Fjord. The individual who is heading this expansionary mission made it known he will not rest until all three of the missing pilots
    will be retrieved. I am sure that A. Duckworth’s kin are hoping for the same.

    What really puzzles me is that I have sent emails to the Smooks. Not one ever replying. I presume its the same with you. Sad. Dad rarely spoke about his family. It appears there is a big secret of the Smooks. I too assume Harry is a kin to my Dad. Harry maybe a 4th 5th cousin to my Dad. I too would like to know. Harry and A. Duckworth served and died for our country. The other is W.j. Jackson – who is also still missing – having died for our Country.

    In conclusion I still ask myself why is this a huge secret.

    If you are still checking this site please contact me. Maybe we may be kin.

    Take care.