The Gardens Choir in Qualicum Beach pulled off a grand welcome for special guest Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon on Tuesday, May 23.
Guichon came to visit the choir, made up of The Gardens at Qualicum Beach residents and one family member on piano, to present them with an award for their original song, Welcome to Canada, and to hear them perform it in person.
(Please note the above video features a portion of the song.)
The group won the open category of the Lt.-Governor’s Sing Me a Song contest after submitting the piece via a YouTube video at the end of March.
The newly formed choir learned they had won in early May and had been practising the song in anticipation of Guichon’s visit since.
In attendance at The Gardens in Qualicum Beach were Mayor Teunis Westbroek with councillors Barry Avis and Bill Luchtmeijer, along with more than 40 residents, family members and friends.
Dressed in red and white, the choir performed its piece after a speech from Guichon.
“It was a thrill,” said Bob Drew-Brook, who came up with the melody and first few lines of the song, despite having no musical background.
“I like being up in front of an audience,” he said with a smile.
“It was exciting,” agreed Pat Gouge, who wrote the rest of the song.
The song competition had schools, community choirs and amateur musical groups write and perform an original song in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.
Gouge said she felt the first line that Drew-Brook wrote to start the song, “Welcome to Canada, our home of birth or choice,” encapsulates Canada very well.
“That’s Canada’s whole story, I think,” she said, adding that she was grateful to Guichon for providing a chance for the group to express their thoughts on their country. “It makes it more real to write down what’s important about your country,” she said.
She added that she was also grateful to Guichon for bringing her new service dog, Olive, to meet everyone.
Drew-Brook and Gouge received the award plaque from Guichon on behalf of the choir.
Included in the award is a $1,000 honorarium, which the choir members chose to donate to The Gardens’ music therapy program.
“It was wonderful,” said Guichon of the choir’s performance. “Rich and harmonious.”
She said activities like this help to create strong communities.
Guichon also gifted several books about the gardens at Government House to staff and residents of The Gardens.