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Mysterious message reunites April Wine frontman with guitar 46 years later

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Fifty years ago, Myles Goodwyn was a broke musician with big dreams when he saw a Gibson Melody Maker gleaming in Inverness, N.S.

He traded his old guitar for this new one. He modified it, added his name to the guitar head and promptly recorded monster hits for April Wine.

He used the Gibson on 1971’s April Wine and 1972’s On Record. Songs like You Could Have Been a Lady and Bad Side of the Moon made the Nova Scotia band one of the biggest in the world.

“I only had one guitar — this was my main guitar,” he says.

But a truck carrying the band’s gear crashed in Montreal. Goodwyn was told his Gibson suffered a broken neck. He wasn’t able to see the remains.

The band played on. He had other guitars, of course, but none replaced his Melody Maker. April Wine kept the hits coming with Roller, Oowatanite, I Wouldn’t Want to Lose Your Love, Rock ‘N’ Roll is a Vicious Game and Tonite is a Wonderful Time to Fall in Love

Goodwyn had other, more famous guitars. (Robert Short/CBC)

But Goodwyn never forgot the Gibson Melody Maker that launched his career. He posted about the guitar online once in a while, hoping it had survived the crash.

Last year, he moved back home to Nova Scotia. A few months later, he got a cryptic note.

“The day before Christmas I got a message on Facebook saying, ‘I know where your guitar is, your Melody Maker.’ “

“I know,” Goodywn replied. “In heaven!”

” ‘No. It’s in Victoria, B.C.’ “

Goodwyn remembers making each mark on the old guitar as it powered April Wine’s first two hit records. (Robert Short/CBC)

He was given a name and called the man. Goodwyn’s still piecing the whole story together, but it appears the guitar went through several hands. Some owners may well have thought it had been legitimately sold. One person put it on a stand for 15 years as a conversation piece.

“That’s like it being in a zoo and people go by and stare at it. It’s heartbreaking. It missed out on years of all the great April Wine hits,” the frontman says.

He wishes someone had thought to wonder if it was hot — and called him to check. But that didn’t happen for 46 years.

Goodwyn sees no signs anyone played his guitar in the 46 years it spent away from him. (Robert Short/CBC)

Goodwyn bought his guitar back and just a few days ago, it arrived safely at his home outside Halifax. He plugged it in and played right away — everything sounded just as it should.

“This was my life. This was my baby. My baby disappeared. She was 10 when she was taken from me and she was 56 years old when she was returned. She missed a lifetime with me.”

Sitting in his home overlooking a lake outside Halifax, he launches into the iconic opening chords of You Could Have Been a Lady. He might not wear open shirts or sport a flowing mane of hair these days, but close your eyes and it sounds like 1968 all over again.

Goodwyn plays his beloved Gibson Melody Maker in this concert photo from the early 1970s. (Submitted by Myles Goodwyn)

The Gibson has a few scuffs and sweat marks, but they’re all his. He sees no sign anyone played it for four decades. He’s had a hard time taking his hands off it since it came back.

Goodwyn is the last original member of April Wine, which marks its 50th anniversary this year. 

He had a hit blues album last year and is 75 per cent of the way through Friends of the Blues 2. He’s heading into the studio next week to finish it, and he’s bringing the Melody Maker.

He figures his long-lost Gibson will tell him its own stories through music. He doesn’t want to lose his love again, so if you want to hear it live, you’ll have to come see Goodwyn play in Nova Scotia.

“Rock ‘n’ roll is a vicious game,” he says. “But sometimes it has a happy ending.”

The Gibson Melody Maker took the four decades in stride. It played beautifully once it was back in Goodwyn’s hands. (Robert Short/CBC)

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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