Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gleaners to Stonefort Singers - In The News!

[Proper date is December 13, 2008]
News Clippings and Memories

Date Unknown - Late 50's or Early 60's Dad working on song while one of the local papers photographs him - The photographer was Marge Mikkelson - have no idea which paper

Photo to left - Stone Fort Singers - from St. Catharines Standard - July 22, 1967 when they were to be heard in Montebello Park, St. Catharines - Also explaining that the group started out as the Gleaners.

Stone Fort Singers in order, consisted of Marlene Pentaluke, Sylvia Pedley [my sister], Clodagh and Derek Bancroft, and my dad, Charles W. Pedley

The article is explaining that the songs are mainly composed of original compositions by my dad usually in reference to some Niagara historical event.
Three songs are mentioned: Moseby [1837] , the story of an escaped slave who came all the way from Kentucky and found refuge in Niagara-on-the-Lake where slavery had been abolished.

The Burning of the Peel
in 1838 was another historical event occurring as revenge for the burning of the ship, Caroline above Niagara Falls during the Mackenzie Rebellion.

The Pedlar of Blenheim - The words are taken from a "Wanted" poster of about 100 years ago [as of 1967] which was on the wall of the history room at Rodman Hall Arts Centre in St. Catharines when it first opened . Dad used almost the exact words of the poster in his song which recounts how the pedlar was murdered.

The group besides singing at the first Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, has sung at numerous coffee houses and in some locations in Toronto. Their specialty was pure folk music.

Clipping to right from St. Catharines Standard entitle Peninsula Parade from June 18, 1970

He was 63 at the time. It explains about him losing his sight and information about the Stone Fort Singers, formed in 1967 to entertain and inform local audiences in clubs, schools, churches and folk festivals.

Dad goes on to explain that he likes classical folk music because it tells a story, usually based on the true life of early settlers. They represent standards of integrity of the day and give hope.

The group had at that time about 200 pieces in their repertoire, all of which could be performed for any family group.

The article goes on to explain that my dad was a self-taught singer who went on to learn some finer points about music through a correspondence course through the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He learned counterpoint which is a process of writing two individual melodies to harmonize with each other.

He was first motivated by the song stylings of Burl Ives, about 1945. After he heard Ives, he went out and bought a guitar and some music. Songs by Alan Mills [which I personally remember on CBC Radio] and Ed McCurdy, two early folk singers, also influenced him greatly.

The article goes on to point out that my dad had learned to edit and rearrange old music as well as having written about 25 songs himself.

At the time, the Stone Fort Singers were composed of Clodagh Bancroft, Carol Mooridian, who had won awards at local music festivals, Jane Sweingard who was lead voice in the Grantham High School choir and also plays piano and guitar, Sylvia Wiens [my sister] who has sung solos and played at some coffee houses as well. Derek Bancroft, Clodagh's husband, who had played and taught drums.

It explains that my dad was finishing up a folk opera, based on a local Indian legend regarding the maid of the mist. The folk opera was called Nee-Oh-Ah-Gra which has been performed at Westdale school in West St. Catharines and Virgil Public School with the help of my sister, and many other students and adults at both schools.

Clipping at right below from the Niagara Advance of July 6, 1988 - Obviously part of the first word is missing. I found it in the other part of the clipping to the left below. This is when my dad was 81 years old.

My dad is explaining that he still hopes to continue his folk music career when the time is right. [Unfortunately that was not to happen on earth as he passed away in January 1990 in his 83rd year, of oesophogal cancer. ...any details here need confirmation]

[More clippings and memories to come ....]

Editor - Charles Pedley

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The Halifax Explosion Song Written by Daniel MacIntyre

Honouring the Life of Charles Wesley Pedley

Honouring the life of Charles Wesley Pedley, My Dad, a grandfather, a great-grandfather after his death.

What do I say about my dad?

He was from that old English stock, a gentleman, a blind man who learned to be cheerful and happy in spite of becoming blind, a musician, a composer. a wise man, a father who had no father, well at least not after his 11th birthday when the Halifax Explosion took him.

He did not talk much about his personal feelings. That was a characteristic of the age he grew up in. I do not ever remember him saying that he loved me. I don't remember him hugging me. I had to start those two things with him as I grew older and longed to hug my dad.

It is not that he didn't love me or my sister, Sylvia Wiens. He did. You could tell that by his other actions. But he lived without a father-example, he became a man in an age of revealing personal feelings as perhaps being weakness. And as a parent, you COULD NOT be weak.

I loved him, admired him but I just didn't know him on a personal level until he was dying of oesophagical cancer when he said, as I watched over him, "They are all dead now." I asked. "Who?" "All my old friends like Joe Wilson, and Harry Lowrey" (the farmer on whose farm my dad worked and the man who treated him like a son I am told) in Eastern Ontario.

Then he said, the most revealing thing, that even my mother who is 92 as of March 29, 2010 said, she had not known until I told her. He said, "I prayed for them, every day!"

For my nieces and nephews on my sister's side of the family, he was the only grandfather they had ever known and they loved his cheerful sense of humour. My sister's husband, Ted Wiens lost his father when he was young [??], and he grew up I guess much the same way but in a different age.

The picture here is probably my dad's most cherished memory and perhaps the highlight of his folk music career. He got to write the official ballad of Niagara-On-The-Lake's Bicentennial, [included later] AND got to sing it for the Queen Mother!

She shook his hand and he told my mother, "I'm not going to wash it for a week!" He was a monarchist. A historian. A man of passion under control. A Christian. A man who learned to cope so well with his blindness, that when someone explained something to him, he would say, "I see!"

He became a comfort and source of cheer to another blind man, in Niagara on the Lake, Mr. Jones, I believe.

Without knowing it, on a subconscious level, because he was always so healthy, his cancer sneaked up on us. I took him too much for granted. He got sick and passed away, in 1989, January, a few short months after seeing his oldest granddaughter, my daughter, Ann get married to Jon Guinn of Attleboro, Massachusetts. [It is so hard to say 'died' for some reason, maybe because we want to hold on to his memories as all that is left of this humble but accomplished man!].

Suddenly I thought of the times I had neglected phoning him, of visiting him. I resolved NEVER to do that again and let my mother be so alone. But I had regrets for some time that I had to deal with because of my neglect of him.

So if you are reading this, please do not neglect your parents, your mom and dad. They will not always be with you. I don't want you to have the regrets that I had to deal with for some time.

And now it is time to celebrate his life!

The life of Charles Wesley Pedley, MUI

[My dad had to go to work when he was 16 because of losing his father, so he never completed high school and of course, not any college. But he knew all kinds of stuff and he used to joke that he had his MUI. "Master of Useless Information"]

-Charles G. Pedley, the son
-For Sylvia Wiens, his daughter
-For Lilian Pedley, in 2010, in her 92nd year in March!
-For And all the grandchildren and great grandchildren that he never got to know and who never got to know him.

-I hope some others will contribute memories of dad, or grandpa as well. His oldest grandchildren were perhaps just pre-teens. Therefore they do not have many memories except the ones I mentioned about him having a very good humour about his blindness.

Halifax Explosion Actual Video

Explosion 1917: Explosion Now! 2000's

Halifax 1917: Shattered City

Halifax Explosion: Where My Dad Lost HIS Dad 1917

Halifax Explosion: Where My Dad Lost HIS Dad 1917