Chemainus’ Tony Fayant is pleased to have done his part to support health care workers and entertain a few members of the public, socially distanced, along the way. (Photo by Pete Cavanaugh)

Chemainus’ Tony Fayant is pleased to have done his part to support health care workers and entertain a few members of the public, socially distanced, along the way. (Photo by Pete Cavanaugh)

One piper piping during the pandemic

Tribute to health care workers reaches the 100th performance

The sound of the bagpipes and ringing bells have filled the air in downtown Chemainus at 7 p.m. regularly since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in March.

As the Chemainus United Church bells chime every night, Chemainus’ Tony Fayant, 56, starts his regular chorus on the bagpipes at nearby Waterwheel Park. Fayant is coming up to his 100th public performance in tribute to health care workers on Saturday, July 11.

It all started when the pandemic shutdown affected Fayant’s job as director of food and beverage at Casino Nanaimo. His last day of work was March 17 and the Cowichan Pipes and Drums member began the bagpipe salutes right away the next day.

“Just after I was out of work, people were banging pots and pans in our neighbourhood supporting the front line workers,” Fayant said. “The way I make noise is I play the pipes. I went out on my deck and played my pipes.”

The next night he went to Kin Park in Chemainus to play but “it was really windy and I almost lost my hat in the ocean,” he said.

That prompted another move to downtown Chemainus where he’s been every since.

“The first couple of nights there was a couple of people walking by with dogs and more waved from a distance,” Fayant said.

“Then it started to become part of my routine. I had somewhere I needed to be every day.”

The salute to the workers was the most prominent reason for continuing to play, but also proved to be good medicine to bridge his employment gap.

“It’s given me a focus,” Fayant conceded. “You can only mow your lawn so many times.”

As his regular outings became known, he saw some familiar faces and plenty of different ones taking in the sight and sounds. Woman-about-town Ruth Schiller has been one of the regulars to appreciate what Fayant’s been doing.

A couple of ladies walking Scotty dogs made a point of coming by with the Scottish connection to the bagpipes.

“It’s been pretty nice,” Fayant said of the experience.

At one point, he did 74 days in a row. The Cowichan Pipes and Drums started regular outdoor practices at a farm in Duncan on Thursday nights at 7 so Fayant has missed the last five Thursdays to be there.

As he approaches the 100th time, the routine is the same. The church bells, checked over closely last Thursday by Jamie Stephen by climbing up into the bell tower since they haven’t been given such a workout in a long time, start to ring out and then Fayant begins playing.

Fayant actually started in a bagpipe club during his days at Chemainus Secondary School. One Remembrance Day in the school gymnasium was his first public appearance.

He spent about 14 years in Alberta before returning to Chemainus seven years ago.

“I stopped playing for about 30 years,” he pointed out. “It was a struggle getting back into it, for sure.”

But Fayant’s glad he did and the tutoring of the Cowichan Pipes and Drums has been amazing – plus, it’s nice for him to be one of the youngest members of the group.

The group performed on Canada Day with a walkabout in Chemainus.

Fayant had company from Joel Bailey for one night, as they also paid tribute to those Canadians who died in the military helicopter crash off the coast of Greece in June. Otherwise, he’s been on his own.

After the 100th tribute, Fayant will break the cycle but won’t necessarily be done with it.

“I might play on my deck once in a while,” he said. “I think it’s come full circle. I don’t want to be the cause of anyone gathering with COVID.

“This is an amazing town. It was a great place to grow up and a great place to come back to.”

CoronavirusHealthcare

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Tony Fayant has faithfully played his bagpipes most evenings at Waterwheel Park since just after COVID-19 restrictions went into effect. (Photo by Pete Cavanaugh)

Tony Fayant has faithfully played his bagpipes most evenings at Waterwheel Park since just after COVID-19 restrictions went into effect. (Photo by Pete Cavanaugh)

Just Posted

Erin Haluschak visits the VI Free Daily/PQB News studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Erin Haluschak talks missing persons on Vancouver Island, women in media

Podcast: Black Press reporter also talks about importance of women in the media

Ongoing construction at the intersection of Highway 19 and Highway 4, just outside of Qualicum Beach. (Steve Weldon photo)
New stop lights to be installed where Inland Island Highway meets Alberni Highway

Drivers can expect lane closures during constructions hours

(File photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo to increase fees for disposal of mattresses

Current rate of $15 per unit not enough to cover recycling

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Island Health has confirmed COVID-19 exposures at Ecole des Deux Mondes in Campbell River on May 4 and 5, and at Mill Bay Nature School in Mill Bay on April 28, 29, 30 and May 3. (Metro Creative photo)
Two new COVID-19 school exposures confirmed by Island Health

Health authority contacting anyone exposed at Ecole des Deux Mondes, Mill Bay Nature School

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Most Read