Members of the Morinville Minstrels pose with Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec May 21 after the MLA presented the group with an $8,000 Community Initiatives Program (CIP) grant cheque. – Stephen Dafoe Photo
By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A well-known group of local singers will be boarding the tour bus and setting off down the road June 11 for a four-day tour of lodges and seniors facilities, thanks to a provincial grant.
Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec presented the Morinville Minstrels with a cheque for $8,000 May 21 through the province’s Community Initiatives Program (CIP), monies that will cover 50 per cent of the estimated $16,000 the group will spend bringing some smiles to seniors’ faces in June.
Minstrels Treasurer Diana Moquin said each year the singing group takes a road trip for three or four days to entertain. “We try to go to the areas that don’t get a lot of entertainment,” Moquin said, adding the group has a lot of fun on the annual road trip. “This year we are going down to Cochrane, Black Diamond, High River and over to Drumheller. Our treat is we are going to Rosebud. That’s the part that’s not work for us. We’re going to go listen to somebody else sing.”
Though they will perform six shows in four days – roughly 13 per cent of the 45 performances the Minstrels will do this year – there is great joy from and great enthusiasm for each of their performances.
“A lot of the people in the outlying areas don’t get a lot of entertainment,” Moquin said, adding the group will perform at seniors’ lodges and long-term care homes. “Even people that have Alzheimer’s remember the old songs and you will see them singing along.” The Minstrel said one of the highlights for many audience members is the sing-along portion of the show that follows the group’s formal performance.
This year’s road trip will include 18 of the group’s singers. The Minstrels have had as many as 23 take to the bus for the annual trip.
One returning Minstrel is Carol Kaup, a singer who has been going on the road trip for many years. Like the other members of the group she is looking forward to the journey. “It’s a marvellous thing, and the places that we stop at to sing – they’re just so grateful,” Kaup said. “Not only are we doing something for ourselves, we are doing something for someone else.” Kaup explained wherever the group has performed on the summer trips, the audience is usually singing with them by the end. “They’ll look so grumpy, like you are interrupting their afternoon. We start to sing and you see the frown is not so bad. By the time we’re done they’re joining in the sing-along. They so enjoy the sing-along.”
Making her first musical pilgrimage with the Morinville Minstrels is Linda Mondor, a woman who had the opportunity to see the joy on her mother’s face whenever an entertainer would visit the facility she was receiving care at. “My mother was always excited about this because she was confined to the seniors’ home,” Mondor said. “She enjoyed when people came in and performed.”
Mondor, who has sung for years, including on radio at the age of 12, said she is enjoying her involvement with the Morinville Minstrels. “I’m really enjoying the ladies and the men, and I’m really excited about this trip,” she said.
The group is currently looking for more new members, particularly some male voices to replace a couple of members who have moved away. Those interested in joining the Morinville Minstrels can contact Diana Moquin at 780-939-7241 or Judy Baker at 780-665-3463.