They are the individuals in the background doing everything to make the annual Toronto carnival a success. From bending wire and tuning steelpans, to teaching young people how to compose and sing calypsoes, to marshalling on parade day, these volunteers have made a significant impact to the event over its 45 years of existence.
Last Friday night, the spotlight was thrown on a few of the passionate mas’ lovers at the fifth annual fundraising gala. Tribute Awards were presented to Horace Thorne, Arnold Hughes, Oswald James and Cecil Clarke, while Noreen Callender was presented with the Kathy Searles Memorial Award.
Toronto Mas Band Association members nominated Hughes for the honour.
“To be selected by my peers who I compete against every year is special,” said the veteran mas’ designer and two-time Band of the Year winner who migrated to Canada in 1968. “It means that you have earned their respect.”
With a passion for photography, Thorne has an extensive archive of carnival photos.
“I like to capture the events that are happening in the background,” he said. “Everybody takes pictures of revellers in their costume and that’s good. But there is more to mas’ than just the glitzy costumes like the people making the mas.”
A former member of the legendary George Bailey’s band, Thorne also played the steelpan with Pan Am North Stars and other outfits and was a member of the T & T Fire Service before coming to Canada 44 years ago.
In addition to taking photos, he has been a parade marshal and head of security.
After serving with the West Indian regiment and the Trinidad & Tobago Defence Force, James came to Canada in 1968 to study music. Lack of funding limited him to just two semesters at the Berklee College of Music.
The trombonist travelled extensively with several musicians, including The Mighty Sparrow, and he was the musical director/trombonist for the calypso monarch competitions from 1981 to 1999.
Clarke developed the Jesse Ketchum Public School steelband program while Callender has been an active volunteer for the past two decades.
By RON FANFAIR