Stitch in time

Royal Flying Corps aircraftman James Armishaw, in 1917 tunic tailored by Beauchamp & How.

First, they told me to stand still. For an hour. Then, a man I didn’t know except through my father ran a tape measure across my shoulders, down the length of my arms, around my waist and chest. A little later, when he needed a measurement down there, he ran the tape measure from my ankle up into my crotch. I kept on smiling even though, at about age 10, I had never done this sort of thing before. The man with the tape measure finally smiled and gave me a pat on the back.

“Ted, you’re going to love this,” he said, “your first ever tailor-made suit.”

Ted Barris writes Foreword to new book Syncopated: Black Stories

In a new book of biographies (compiled by author Ed Brown) about Black musicians in Canada, Ted Barris was invited to write the Foreword.

The star attraction was not in the house that night. While many others – the luminaries of the Canadian jazz scene – performed on stage, perhaps the country’s best studio and jazz concert drummer of the day was absent. In fact, it was because he was absent, that all the stars came out. It was in 1967 when Toronto-born musician Archie Alleyne suffered serious injuries in a car accident. He was not able to work … at either of his jobs.

“I didn’t have a car, so I had to carry my drum kit on streetcars and the subway,” he told my father, Alex Barris, back then. “I’d play from 9 at night to 1 a.m., get home with my drums by 3 a.m. and be up four hours later to go to my day job.”

Acknowledging musical gifts

The Town Tavern (at Queen and Yonge streets) was Archie Alleyne's home club from the mid-1950s until 1970.
The Town Tavern (at Queen and Yonge streets) was Archie Alleyne's home club from the mid-1950s until 1970.

The star attraction was not in the house that night. While many others were present – the luminaries of the Canadian jazz scene – perhaps the country’s best studio and jazz concert drummer of the day was absent. In fact, it was because he was absent, that all the stars came out. It was 45 years ago that Toronto-born drummer Archie Alleyne suffered serious injuries in a car accident. He was not able to work … at either of his jobs.

“I didn’t have a car, so I had to carry my drum kit on streetcars and the subway,” he told my father, Alex Barris, back then. “I’d play from nine at night to one a.m., get home with my drums by three a.m. and be up four hours later to go to my day job.”

Being there

Linda Carter - artist, filmmaker and public speaker -
Linda Carter - artist, filmmaker and public speaker - says, “In this society, we need people who’ve been there before.” She spoke to reporters at a Black History event at Centennial College this week.

Earlier this week, I hosted a Black History Month event in Toronto. The guest speaker was fashion designer, actress and filmmaker Linda Carter. A couple of weeks ago her latest production, a film called “The Making of a Judge,” documented the life of her father, George E. Carter, Canada’s first native born black judge. Following her short talk about the film, several journalists posed questions. They ranged from her thoughts about her career to the importance of Black History Month to her feelings about Afri-centric schools. Then she got this one:

“What are your thoughts on the causes of such things as the Jordan Manners shooting in a Toronto school?” the young journalist asked.