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 History of the Barbershop Style.
Ganaraska Chordsmen Chorus
The Ganaraska Chordsmen got its start in July 2014 when veteran barbershoppers Ted Devonshire and Roger Wilson called together former members of the Pine Ridge Chorus that had been based in Port Hope until it folded fifteen years earlier. The progress since has been nicely chronicled by local media, thanks to founding member Rick Faulkner. Unofficially called the Port Hope Barbershop Singers, the group held a 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 had 26 full members.
Fred Mooij 2017-2021
Getting Fred to write a bio is akin to pulling hen's teeth. Suffice to say that this self-described "arm-waver" is passionate about singing barbershop harmony and has done so for decades. He was a member of our predecessor Pine Ridge Chorus and sang tenor with Ontario District 1994 Novice Quartet Champions "Ganaraska Rascals". Retired from directing and upholstering in 2021, Fred and Judy are now caravanning across the continent.
Lynn Brown 2014-2017
Lynn brought to the Northumberland Hills Chapter over 35 years of barbershop quartet and chorus experience within the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS). He previously directed the BHS chapter in Peterborough. His vocational life as a Professional Engineer and Ontario Land Surveyor is now complemented by enjoying retirement in Port Hope with his wife Lois. He relished making time to coach local choruses and quartets including the female Durham Shores Chorus of the Sweet Adelines which he led in his first year with them to winning 2015 Region 16 Division A and garnered the Novice Director Award. His absolute love of music, his training at Directors College (BHS), and his years of music experience and technical expertise combined to inspire the Ganaraska Chordsmen Chorus with the leadership needed for musical advancement.
Pine Ridge Chorus of the Port Hope Chapter
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 (included GC Charter member John Hubicki and our first 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
In 1938, two men from Tulsa had a chance encounter at which they bemoaned the decline of that great American institution, the barbershop quartet. To stem the decline, they invited friends to songfests on the roof of the Tulsa Club. These rapidly grew in numbers and the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA) was founded. In 2004, it adopted as its brand name "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 background, visit History of Barbershop.