Music quickly becoming Brookfield’s biggest cultural export

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Brookfield & Area Notebook, by Judy Matheson

Whing-Ding ensures music also a centrepiece of Coming Home to Brookfield Festival

The Coming Home to Brookfield Coordinating Committee began planning for the 19th year of community celebrations on Jan. 27. New ideas and theme suggestions are being sought from interested persons. Committee rebuilding will happen over the next year, enthusiastic and creative volunteers are welcome.

The Coming Home to Brookfield event has evolved into an eagerly anticipated festival, which offers activities for all age groups over a nine-day period. The Whing-Ding, which has spanned 60 years of weekend fun, plays an important part in the celebrations. The festival is from Jul. 19 to the closing on Jul. 27. The Whing-Ding will be on Friday and Saturday nights, Jul. 25 and 26. Look for many former residents and friends to return for all or part of the nine-day celebration.


Brookfield Baptist Church is continuing its community outreach program to provide free Kraft Dinner lunches to South Colchester Academy High School students on the second Wednesday of each month. This successful program began last year and is proving to be appreciated by students, as well as the SCA’s administration. The next lunch will be held Mar. 19. The date of the second Wednesday of each month will resume in April.


The community of Brookfield has often been recognized for many accomplished sports teams and athletes, but a new wave has surged to the forefront with an abundance of talented musicians!

The ripples have been spreading for years. First world-renown James Hill and Anne Janelle came here seven years ago, then Tim and Lorraine Ross and family came three years ago, as well as Robby McNeil; the pool is pleasantly flooded now.

The semi-professional choirs at both churches are led by talented directors Suzanne Rushton at Brookfield Baptist and Joanne Hatfield and Kaye Retson at Knox United, who keep the congregants treated to inspiring music.

There’s also the sister combos of the MacKinnons, Rustons and Hamiltons, as well as Victoria Fraser, Alexa Roop, Lauren Percival, Kenzie Boyd, Olivia Brown, Liam and Henry Jamieson and other young folk who are all showing lots of talent. All of this speaks well for the movement to continue.

The award winning school bands, directed over the years by Rick Hiltz and Holly Hartlen, have launched artists such as the outstanding Brandon Rice and Peter Betts, G.R. Matheson, Nick Fisher, Jessica Fleming, Mandy Atkinson, Emily Hiltz and Jeff Graham. Hiltz’ musical endeavours have carried on in a variety of forms since his retirement from teaching.

Paul Barrett, an accomplished retired bandleader at CEC, has continued to teach music to adults at New Horizons locations. He too makes his home in Brookfield.

Dale Fisher, Tanya and Paul Fowler, Anitra Whidden, Lori Nielsen, Sarah Matheson Bates and Charles Bowers are all artists in their own right, always willing to share their music.

The Putnam family (Alicia, Janelle, Rob and Kelly), the Isenors (Bruce, Megan and Doris) of the Pioneers, and Margie Crossman of the Kitchen Trio are all well-known performers across the province and beyond. These groups and individuals play important roles in the music scene.

Joanne Hatfield is multi-dimensional, playing numerous instruments and teaching piano to 18 students, who present a public recital that showcases their talents each spring. Hatfield has lent her expertise to the recently formed Ukulele group of a dozen eager adults. She co-directs the Drum Runners, a group that includes folks from a broad area. She is one of the leaders of the band Moja Makani (One Home), which features cultural diversity with music from Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean. Look for the release of their CD in early May.

Each of the individuals and groups of musicians mentioned above are stories unto themselves. Suffice to say the community is very fortunate to have so much talent. All of these personalities, and others who may have been missed, have shared their talents via many community events through the years to the joy and appreciation of all.

Hill and Janelle offer magic with unbelievable ukulele and cello arrangements. A new CD is currently in progress and available to order at This duo spends most of their time touring the world, but happily return to Brookfield to rejuvenate.

Ross has quickly become known as an excellent entertainer and lends his organ music to the Middle Stewiacke church choir, while Lorraine’s voice has been a well-kept secret for too long and hopefully everyone will get to hear more from her.

MacNeill, guitarist extraordinaire, once played and composed for Anne Murray, Roger Whittaker and other notables.

Rev. Keith Gale, Knox United Church’s incoming minister in July, is also known for his musical work with youth bands. He’ll be yet another welcome addition to the musical village.

Judy Matheson is a life-long Brookfield resident and dedicated volunteer with many community organizations. To have your community news appear in her column, contact her by email at

Organizations: Isenors, Middle Stewiacke church, Knox United Church

Geographic location: Brookfield, Hamiltons, New Horizons Africa Brazil Caribbean

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