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A clean shave and “a little off the top,” Roper gives a thumbs up

A clean shave and “a little off the top,” Roper gives a thumbs up
(Tom Roper photo)

My barber Alan, of the famous Winnipeg Street Barbershop retired several years ago and left a big hole in my social life. Well it wasn’t that big cause I only like to get a haircut every 6 months as I am fairly cheap.

I asked my wife to cut my hair but she refused as she said she does not like handling hair. Odd as she likes dogs and cats??

Anyway, I have been floundering in the male grooming world for sometime now until last Tuesday. I happened to notice the blue and red barber pole rotating in the building at the corner of Main and 3rd Ave. The sign on the door read Danny Boy’s Classic Barbershop and I walked in to meet the proprietor and see if we could scratch out a story.

Dan the Barber came out of the Lower Sackville country in Nova Scotia.

He left home early and his family connection changed to the boys he hung around with. As his finances were sketchy and he preferred to keep himself well groomed, Danny began to cut his own hair.

This morphed into cutting the heads of hair of his friends. As life continued Dan chose the construction racket to pay the bills. When work back east waned somewhat, a friend from Edmonton contacted him and suggested he come out west. “They pay $30 an hour to hold the end of a tape measure” his buddy said. And Dan, not one to shy away from opportunity jumped on a plane and moved to the big prairie city to join their construction trade.

Building was booming at the time, and Dan worked several years plying the trade. Something was missing though, his artistic bent was not being worked enough and a decision was made to leave construction and sign up for Barber school.

“I always had an artistic side, drawing as a kid, so I thought, I like cutting hair and you need to be a bit creative to do that, why not give it a go” said Dan. And he did, and after a fairly demanding training program that prepared you for the real world, Danny was off and cutting.

“My first job was in an eight chair shop, and I worked hard to do a good job, so hard that I was becoming known as “quiet” Dan, no time to talk. As experience grew my skill level followed suit and the mix of cutting and conversation improved to the next level. Even my nickname shifted to “chatty” Dan. I was chosen to compete in the Kelowna Barber Wars and even recruited by a Global company,”says Dan.

“So how did you end up in Smithers” I asked.

“Well that’s another story said Danny, I met a lady from Smithers who had come to Edmonton for Barber training. She asked me if I would come out and help her set up shop. This time I used the information I gleaned from an audio book, “The 5 Second Rule”. When the door opens, take a chance and go through. My dream to open my own shop came later from the business experience and encouragement of my partner. Now two years later I have found my home.”

“Barbering connects you to the community. You develop personal relationships with your clients. I provide the full package, hot towels, straight razor shave and contemporary style cut. I also have the classic buzz cut available for those at six month intervals. We even tried something new in the grooming world, a bachelor party. We set up a liquor licence, plugged in a football game and I cut and groomed each guy in the wedding party. It was a lot of fun.

“So do you have a routine Dan to prepare for each day?” I inquired. “Actually I do, I like to get up early and work out at the gym. That grounds me for the day. On days off I like to ride my bike and hope to get in some hiking with my partner. I even bought a sled to keep me active in the winter. This is a community that I want to be apart of,” said Dan.

Your shop name is obvious of course but is there a bit more to it. Well yes, said Dan, my Grampa used to always sing that song “Danny Boy”.

I even tattooed each knuckle with the name so it is my linked to my family and my boys back home. “Thanks for this Dan and can I get a buzz cut next Tuesday on seniors 25% discount day.”

“For sure Tom”.