The origin of barbershop music is thought to be with 19th century African American men socializing in barbershops; they would harmonize while waiting their turn, vocalizing spirituals, folk songs and popular songs in unaccompanied, four-part, close-harmony singing. The style was adopted by white minstrel singers whose recordings were popular into the 1920s when it faded into obscurity with the advent of radio. In 1938, the "Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America" started a revival and development of styles that has seen changes through each decade. While contemporary barbershop arrangements or performances can be quite different from earlier, yet there are elements which distinguish the genre that have primarily been common to all. See An Examination of the Barbershop Style.Novice Quartet Festival Night in Sept 2014 at the Port Hope Lions' Centre. Later that year, having found that the former name was now in use elsewhere, we settled on the more distinctive "Ganaraska Chordsmen Chorus". Then, in April 2015, we were licensed to operate as the Northumberland Hills Chapter of the Oakridge Division of the Ontario District of the Barbershop Harmony Society. To become a full chapter of BHS, we had to become a not-for-profit Ontario corporation and this goal was achieved Nov 4, 2015 under the name "Northumberland Hills Ontario Chapter of SPEBSQSA, Inc." BHS issued our Charter on Nov 24 which was then presented by the Ontario District President at our inaugural show on May 7, 2016. As of Dec 1, 2016, we have 26 full members.
From about 1954 to 1999, a chapter of the SPEBSQSA met in Port Hope, fronted by the Pine Ridge Chorus. Little about it is available on the Internet but an effort will be made to honour our ancestor on this website, given that so many of our founding members are PRC alumni. Two of its quartets achieved Ontario District Novice Champions: 1985 - Good Tymes Penny Arcade (including current member John Hubicki and our director Lynn Brown); 1994 - Ganaraska Rascals (including current members Fred Mooij and Peter Chrisomalis). The chapter was active in the community; one newspaper reference on line describes the Port Hope Olde Tyme Christmas festivities of 1977, "There is a Santa Claus parade, with old lanterns and horse-drawn wagons, an Olde Tyme Barbershop Chorus and a Quartet Show, featuring the Pine Ridge Chorus, a turkey shoot, ..." (The Canadian Champion, Milton, Ont, 21 Dec 1977).
Barbershop Harmony Society". To promote and improve barbershop singing, the Society holds international and district competitions for choruses and quartets. It preserves sheet music with a collection in the United States second only to the Library of Congress. There were 24,000 members across the USA and Canada in 2014.
For more on the history of barbershop music and the Society, visit How it all started.