By Stephen Weir:

Pantastic Canada Day Weekend

Toronto’s Ambassador of Pan had a busy Canada Day Weekend, teaching library users all about the pan and its history in the city. When she wasn’t at the Northern District Library, she was performing for museum-goers at the Aga Khan Museum.
Suzette Vidale is an innovative steelpan artist. With roots from St. Lucia and Trinidad, the home of the steelpan, Suzette has incorporated the rich and vibrant cultures of Toronto into her diverse repertoire.
A consummate performer, she came to the Northern District Library just north of the Yonge and Eglinton intersection. Over the course of Saturday, she not only entertained adults, teens, and children with music ranging from Bob Marley classics to David Rudder hits, but she also taught the audience about the history of the steelpan in Trinidad and Canada. Hope Pan Man Pat’s ears are burning—she gave a huge shoutout to one of the pioneers of pan in the city. Kudos went out as well to the electronic steelpan invented by Toronto’s Salmon Cupid.

"Educating, entertaining, and inspiring one note at a time," Vidale likes to say. “I add my own unique touch to the already illustrious instrument—the steelpan.” Most of the people attending her free sessions at the library had obviously never seen a steelpan but thoroughly enjoyed trying out the extra pans that Vidale brought along to all three of her sessions.

The day after the library appearance, she loaded up her vehicle and went to the Aga Khan Museum in North York, near the Don Valley Parkway and Eglinton Avenue. The 10-year-old museum is famous for its contemporary design and its huge collection dedicated to Islamic art and objects. It houses approximately 1,200 rare objects assembled by Shah Karim al-Husayni and Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan.
“I had been invited to participate in the museum's Rhythms of Canada festival,” Vidale explained. “I had my illustrious steelpan with me for Rhythms of Canada, the museum’s annual summer festival celebrating the diverse tapestry of Toronto.”
She gave three performances on Sunday. And how did it go? The Caribbean Camera’s car couldn’t find an available spot in the parking lot!

Library Photos by Stephen Weir
Museum photo (top) by the Aga Kham museum


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