For your consideration - Thom Barker

For your consideration - Thom Barker

Take me home Highway 16

Thom realizes Northwest B.C. has supplanted Ottawa as ‘home’

I have lived in quite a few places in my life. Among them are five provinces (and multiple locations in some of those) and Texas.

I’ve always had a real soft spot for Saskatchewan because I was born there and most of my vast extended family is still there.

And I absolutely loved being in Labrador, where I lived in a fly-in community surrounded by the incredible northern wilderness.

Texas, too, was great, so different and fascinating to a young(ish), liberal(ish) Canadian.

In fact, I can’t say there was anywhere I’ve lived I didn’t love, but through it all, Ottawa was always home.

It is where I grew up (mostly), came of age and forged my life’s path.

I realized recently, though, around the time of the fall fair that has changed.

I haven’t been here that long, really, and in the small town scheme of things, it would likely take many more years for local people to consider me local, but in my heart, I can now say B.C., or, more specifically, northwest B.C. is home.

I’d like to say Smithers or the Bulkley Valley, but over the past year, Prince Rupert has become like a second home and in all the travelling to the Hazeltons, Terrace, Kitimat and some points north, I have realized that it is the whole region I’m really in love with.

And during my frequent trips back and forth on Hwy 16, I have discovered there is really no better soundtrack than Mark Perry’s Recollections CD, a compilation of 20 songs written and recorded over 20 years and released in 2019.

It was at the Bulkley Valley Exhibition this year I really started to feel like I was part of something wonderful here, not just as an observer but as a participant.

I happened to pop into the green room just prior to Mark’s Saturday night show at the fair and chatted with him and Rachelle Van Zanten.

As I left, I told them to break a leg and we mused about where terms such as green room and idioms such as break a leg come from.

So here’s to you Mark Perry, troubadour of my new home of northwest B.C.:

There are a number of theories about telling performers to ‘break a leg,’ meaning ‘good luck’ (which uttering in theatre circles is bad luck).

The most popular among these stems from the early days of theatre when ensemble actors queued up to perform behind a spot called the leg line. Actors who were not performing had to remain behind the leg line, which also meant they would not be paid.

It became customary to wish actors the opportunity to perform and get paid by saying ‘break a leg.’

Similarly, the origins of the term ‘green room’ are equally murky, but also likely from the world of theatre. Popular theories include that backstage rooms where actors waited to perform were painted green for its calming effect; that these rooms were where the understudies (‘green’ actors) hung out waiting (presumably) for their chance to break a leg; and that the rooms were lined with baize (that green felt-like stuff that covers pool tables) for soundproofing.

My favourite, though, is that it comes from Stratford, the famous theatre school, where the rooms were actually called ‘agreeing rooms,’ which, apparently, in a Warwickshire accent sounds like ‘green room.’

Take your pick.