Canada Day celebrations: Small makes big impact

by Moneca Jantzen

For anyone that has lived in Kamloops for the last several decades you will remember that there was one magical year where Canada Day was transformed into a close approximation of how we celebrate it every year now.

Considering how logical it all seems in retrospect, Henry Small recalls a time when it was a struggle to make the changes he envisioned. The Kamloops Arts Council’s Art in the Park event used to be held on Mother’s Day and the Multicultural Association held their festivities on yet another day.

“It was difficult at the beginning. They were two separate events and the two organizations didn’t want to combine them, but 30,000 people showed up that first year,” said Small.

Small experienced the patriotic fervor of Independence Day growing up in the United States. Given the love he has for his adopted country of Canada, it is not surprising that he would want to bring some of that same energy to how we celebrate our national birthday.

Small had an annual contract working with the Kamloops Arts Council for about eight years back in the 90s and during that time he succeeded in transforming our Canada Day event. Not only did he combine Art in the Park with the multicultural festivities, he, along with Fred Oakley of Kamloops Tourism and City of Kamloops Parks and Recreation, spearheaded Music in the Park which launches each year on Canada Day.

“We had a shoestring budget of $16,000 that first year to bring music to the park every evening all summer,” said Small. Fortunately, the City of Kamloops and early sponsors such as the British Columbia Lottery Corporation recognized the value of the program and it continues to this day and remains hugely popular.

Small first came to Canada in 1969 as a young musician and was based out of Calgary for 10 years followed by time in London, England and Los Angeles. Somewhere along the way he met a girl who happened to be from Kamloops and eventually they married and this became home.

“One of the proudest days of my life was becoming a Canadian citizen,” said Small, a milestone reached in 1986.

The legendary musician and morning radio personality has always felt that Canada has been receptive to him and his work so it was easy to feel at home here.

Most of what Small does is informed by his passion for music. Whether making it himself, producing or promoting others, music is the common denominator but so is his love of community. Our community has been the lucky beneficiary of Small’s vision and passion three decades ago and we look forward to celebrating once more this Monday. Happy Canada Day 2019! Be safe and have fun!

© Kamloops This Week