Barbershop chorus brings Christmas to Nanaimo seniors homes

Barbershop chorus brings Christmas to Nanaimo seniors homes
WatchSinging Christmas carols is a timeless feature of the holidays and a group in Nanaimo is bringing back memories that way. As Skye Ryan reports, the Tidesmen barbershop chorus, made up largely of seniors themselves, is sharing the magic of Christmas in seniors homes. 

A smiling 86-year-old Ken Hockin was dressed in suit and tie as he pushed his walker into a Nanaimo seniors complex Monday night.

He was not there as resident but to perform with a troupe he calls his barbershop brothers.

“Oh well he lights up a room,” said the fellow Tidesmen chorus member Glenn Harvey.

“I’m sort of a mascot I think,” said Hockin.

“I’m the oldest guy in the chorus right now, dubious distinction.”

Nanaimo’s Tidesmen chorus group is made up largely of seniors, but no one can rival Hockin, who’s been singing barbershop for nearly 70 years now.

“Singing barbershop since I was 17 in high school,” said Hockin.

It’s seen him through a life of good times and hard, the latest the loss of his beloved wife Elva.

Hockin said he still loves to sing barbershop as much as ever.

“Happiness is like perfume,” said Hockin.

“You can’t spread it on others without getting some on yourself.”

The Tidesmen are touring the mid-Island this holiday season singing Christmas carols at seniors homes. They are bringing nostalgia and cheer that singers say works both ways.

“Lots of wonderful memories,” said audience member Marilyn Campbell.

“Tears come to my eyes because their heart is in everything they sing. I love them.”

“And we get a lot of enjoyment out of doing it,” said Hockin.

A more perfect exchange of gifts this holiday season seems hard to imagine.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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