When I daydream about my life as a ventriloquist, travelling with my puppets Magrau the bird and Kamilla the frog, I picture touring in one of those caravans pulled by a horse with a big carnival sign on the side with our names in gold paint, like that of Professor Marvel in the Wizard of Oz, who warns Dorothy to head on home before the storm hits. Now, how far would I get in a horse-drawn caravan travelling across Canada these days? Back in the day of horseback riding and sailing ships, and before airplanes, imagine how much patience and resilience it took to travel long distances, especially when Canadian winters can be so hard! As I type this, the snow is falling and the citizens of Vancouver – with cars and buses now, not horses – are slowly trying to move here and there. Little kids stop and make snowballs or just look in wonder at this new white stuff that wasn’t here last night but showed up today … just for them!
I started my career as a child living in Ontario’s southernmost region, the Niagara Peninsula, then moved a little further north to Guelph for university. A few years later I was off on a grand adventure, moving across the country to Vancouver. I love all parts of Canada, from coast to coast to coast, and since being a children’s entertainer has given me the gift of travel, Kamilla, Magrau and I have enjoyed meeting new people in Canadian cities and towns, big and small. Another cool thing is that when I travel to the United States and they ask me where I’m from, they seem to love the fact that I’m from Canada! Many people I meet haven’t been to Canada before and ask me all sorts of questions, and it makes me realize how proud I am to be a Canadian. It means a lot to me to be a Canadian performing this year for Canada’s 150th birthday. This summer we travel to Red Deer, Alberta for our Canada 150 Diversity show full of singing, high kicks and lots of audience participation in between the comical bits where Magrau and Kamilla can get the best of me.
Meryl Streep commented once about Ryan Gosling and how nice he is, like so many Canadians. It was fun to read as she went through different actors who were from diverse countries and cultures. It was important to me that she mentioned that in the US there were so many talented and good people who came from somewhere else in the world. It just really stood out to me when she mentioned the good nature of Canadians. What makes Canada different? Diversity in Canada is something I cherish. How great is it to have different cultures and traditions? Life is enriched and made so interesting and colourful when it’s filled with such endless variation. It’s wonderful, because it makes you wonder what it might be like to come from a place so different from your own, yet populated by people – and for sure lots of puppets too – just like us.
I wish my Grandma Allin and Grandma Haines were alive to see me on stage doing my shows. Both came from small towns in Ontario and went through World War II, and were born during World War I, which ended in 1918, just shy of a century ago. What would they think about life today in Canada? I don’t know, but it’s important for me to remember what came before me, when I think about what I might do next, and what I’d like to see coming in the future. I’d love to see both of them down and have a conversation with Magrau and Kamilla. They would probably take their side on everything and say they need to travel up front and not in a suitcase. My puppets may seem very young but they’d know just what to do to charm the daylights out of my two grandmothers!
I’d like to put a call out to anyone who reads this little blog.
Tell me something about your community and what’s cool about where you live. We’d love to come perform, visit and we’d like to keep you on our radar. If you’d like, make a comment and the first five comments that I receive I’ll send you our CD The Story of Me, Myself and I. It’s a fun CD that is gaining momentum and there will also be a book coming about the adventures of Magrau and Kamilla!! Don’t forget to join our newsletter so we can send you fun stuff as well as the list of communities we will be performing in, including 22 shows in 12 days in August for the Fraser Valley Reading Club!
So much to do, so many more people to meet and maybe this summer you’ll see a colourful bird and frog ordering milk shakes or walking down the street because we are travelling this spring and summer. And if you see a horse-drawn carnival caravan pulled up at the side of the street, and you see our names on the side in gold letters, then go ahead and ring the bells on the horse’s harness so we know we have visitors.
See you soon!