The Gleaner made an eleventh-hour addition to the 2019 Ormstown Fair Parade in a weird and wonderful gathering of community spirit. At the June 5 relaunch of the paper, attendee Bruce Barr was entrusted with organizing a float because the Gleaner committee had been too busy planning the launch. So it was that René Labelle volunteered to supply a wagon, Mario Beaulieu agreed to tow it with his 1952 W-4 tractor, and Pierre Lachance offered up the musical entertainment. Hugh Maynard, interim director of the Chateauguay Valley Community Information Services (the non-profit group behind the new Gleaner), and Neva Shelton offered their grandchildren’s services as news criers. Last but not least, Gleaner steering committee member Chantal Hortop suggested that her father, Dr. John Hortop, would make an excellent barber.
The barber shop spectacle on board the float was a spinoff from an event in May. Bruce Barr had been helping Ralph Templeton during the fundraising auction at the Ormstown Exhibition Spring Gala, when Scott McClintock suggested that they auction off Bruce’s beard. Bruce explains: “Prices were pretty high on the items that night and I informed him that it would take some serious cash as I was quite attached to my beard. I told him that for $1,000 I would consider it. The next time I passed by Scott’s table, he pointed to a pile of money in the middle and informed me that he had an opening bid of $450. Blake Hooker, overhearing the conversation, wasted no time in informing Ralph and sending George Barrington for the scissors.”
In the end, they raised $1,400 at the May 25 event and Zach Eastwood publicly lopped off Bruce’s ponytail, while Rebecca Ovans shortened his beard. Jump ahead to June 5: Bruce hadn’t completely settled the debt and knew that if he wasn’t clean-shaven by the start of the fair, folks might start demanding their money back. He logically felt he should be getting shaved in the parade en route to sing O Canada in the arena.
And so that’s what happened on opening night of the Desjardins Expo Ormstown, mere hours after the plan was hatched at the Gleaner launch. With Bruce atop an office chair on wheels, Dr. Hortop’s steady hand skillfully wielded a straight razor. The job was completed with great cheer in front of the officials and fair-goers inside the arena.
Special thanks to Bruce Barr for content and bravery.