Novelette (short) version of the history of the Kitsilano Boys Band!
Chapter 1 – Moose Jaw 1914
When father was a bouncer for General Booth
Moose Jaw in 1914 was not your bustling metropolis, just a small town of fifteen hundred with its fair share of roads, houses, picket fences and boys and girls playing in the streets. It was about what one would expect to find on the Canadian prairies before the 1920s. There was something though that did distinguish Moose Jaw from other towns on the prairies. Something which was the object of much pride throughout the town: the Salvation Army Band. Salvation Army bands in Canada had only been in existence for ten years but were quickly growing in popularity and quality, bolstered by the immigration of high-caliber bandsmen from England. That is how the Delamont family came to be in Moose Jaw.
John Delamont, a seasoned baritone player, having emigrated to Canada six years earlier, brought with him his entire family, which included his wife, four daughters and five sons. It could well have been called the ‘Delamont Family Band,’ as all five boys played brass instruments, a formidable addition to any band and especially for a Salvation Army band whose members usually only counted fifteen to twenty strong. The boys’ names were Walter, Frank, Herbert, Leonard, and Arthur.
John Delamont was a big burly man who never learned to read or write, but he was a very intuitive and intelligent man. He was a leather tanner by trade, having learned his occupation in Hereford, England before answering an ad in the Salvation Army paper, War Cry, for bandsmen to come to Canada. There was much commotion and excitement in the Delamont household on the evening of April 12, 1914, as a very significant letter had just arrived in the morning mail. John Delamont would not disclose the contents of the message to his five sons who had been waiting all afternoon patiently for him to come home until after he had finished his evening paper.
Every three years, Salvation Army headquarters in Toronto sent out a call for bandsmen who were interested in joining the Territorial Staff Band to participate in a world congress of Salvationists in London, England. The third world congress was coming up in June, and all the boys had been too young to participate in the first two, but this year it was different. All of them had sent in their application months ago, and now, all that was left was for their father to get around to opening the letter so they could see if any of them were lucky enough to have been chosen. It was highly unlikely they would all get to go, and the boys knew it, so there had been much competition among them to practice and keep on the right side of their mother and father.
Finally, their father got around to opening the letter, but he went about it very slowly, building the suspense, something that prompted one of the boys to say,
“If you played that slow you wouldn’t get to go to England.” Father grunted and shoved the letter to his wife.
“Only two of you get to come along, I’m afraid,” his wife replied, “Leonard, you’re one, and Arthur, you’re the other.”
“Did I ever tell you about the time I was a bouncer for General Booth,” father added, and soon their disappointment had passed away, and they were all rallying together behind Leonard and Arthur, glad that at least two of them were going and determined not to lose out on the joy and happiness which they felt for their brothers.
For Leonard was the eldest, and conductor of the Moose Jaw Salvation Army Band and Arthur was second eldest, so they guessed it was only appropriate; anyway, their time would come, and there would be other world congresses for them to participate in another time. Along with the letter came an itinerary and a list of items which they were to bring. Besides Leonard and Arthur, there would be their father, mother and sister Elizabeth who, while not in the band, was a Captain in the Salvation Army. They had to be in Toronto on the evening of May 26, where they would be performing their first concert of the trip, but there was much preparation before then.
They were only going for two weeks, but John had to let the townspeople know he would not be open during that time, so they could get their repairs to him before he left. There were arrangements to be made, such as having friends look after the younger children and letters had to be written to the old country, letting the relatives know they were coming, and much, much more. They would be traveling to Toronto by train, something that excited the boys, but what excited them, even more, was the boat they would be going on across the Atlantic. Like all boys, they were interested in things that moved: trains, boats, airplanes, and a new invention, the automobile. But for now, it was the boat that held their attention, as she was the biggest in the CPR fleet with two smokestacks. As their father handed them their tickets, they looked at each other, smiled, and read out loud the name on the cards: the SS Empress of Ireland.
Published by: Warfleet Press
Release Date: Copies available
“By Jove what a book.” – Marek Norman, composer in residence Stratford
“I take my hat off to you for doing the legwork and preserving this important history while most of us were busy with more left brain pursuits of our own.” – Bill Inman, resort developer
“The book is written clearly and is easy to read and filled in many of the gaps in Arthur’s story, of which I was unaware.” – Keith Christie, Canadian ambassador
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The story of Arthur Delamont touches many people. It is about the famous and the not so famous. The young and the old. It is about four generations of boys who became men. It is about four generations of men who never forgot how to be boys….. It is the story about the band which never grew old. A band that won over 200 trophies and awards during an unprecedented 50-year history. A band that made 15 European tours and attended 5 world fairs. A band that dined with royalty but never lost the common touch.
As one Vancouver columnist wrote: “Woodwinds, Brass and Glory,” a Vancouver institution, more famous in Europe than in Canada. When Arthur Delamont died in 1982 at the age of 90, the band died with him. He had not groomed a successor. He had not wanted his band to go on without him.
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