HONORA BAY – The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the Canadian economy and Manitoulin has not been proof against its impact. Little Current’s famed fiddling barber, Doug Hore, has closed his shop in the basement of the Anchor Inn Hotel after more than 50 years wielding his scissors, citing the pandemic as the main catalyst for his decision.
“I’ve been at it for 58 years,” he said. “I started in 1962 and I have seen a lot of changes on the front street in that time.”
Mr. Hore was not enthusiastic about appearing in the paper, eschewing the attention. “All I would really like to say is how much I appreciate my customers. I have met a lot of people from all over the world,” he said. “I don’t know what the future is going to be, but I wish everyone the very best.”
When Mr. Hore first began cutting hair on the front street of Little Current, he worked six days a week and two nights. “Friday to Saturday,” he recalled. “I’ve seen a lot of changes in that time.”
When he first began cutting hair, Water Street was bustling.
“On Friday night, farmers would rush to finish their chores so they could get downtown and find the best spots so they could see what was going on in town,” he chuckled. “I was told by a travelling salesman that Little Current was the best town in all of Manitoulin and the North Shore to do business,” said Mr. Hore. “All of Killarney came up, in those days there was no road into there. Folks from the Bay of Islands, Birch Island, Manitowaning, Mindemoya, all of Manitoulin were coming over.”
As a result his customer base stretched across the region. “I heard a lot of stories,” he said.
Gradually things changed as stores like Canadian Tire opened up in nearby Espanola and the roads to those off-Island stores improved. The downtown streets became much quieter, even on the weekends.
One thing that did remain constant was his music. Mr. Hore is a member of the Great Northern Opry and he has been as much a fixture on the Island music scene as anyone alive. Sadly, the pandemic has drastically curtailed the opportunity to play live music before an audience.
Times change, not always for the better, but the years have allowed Mr. Hore to watch and mentor many local musicians as they developed their talents.
“I remember when I first started cutting Jeff Pyette’s hair, you couldn’t get him to say a word,” he said of his fellow Great Northern Opry inductee. “Now you can’t get him to shut up,” he laughed, noting the popular local musician’s well-developed stage presence.
“I have worked with some amazing musicians, people like Debbie Robinson, I remember when she was just a little girl trying to sing,” he said. “Now the one thing about Debbie is that she can always hit the chord right on, not many singers can do that.”
Mr. Hore’s “retirement” came as a shock to many people. “I didn’t put it out there because I didn’t want to be swamped,” he laughed. “I just carried on like I always did until the day came.”
Mr. Hore may have hung up his shingle on the front street, but he hasn’t completely eschewed his scissors. “Oh, I get the odd person calling me up and asking if they can come over and I cut their hair,” he said.
Within a few days of Mr. Hore closing up shop a new barber pole appeared outside a Water Street hairdressing salon.