MANITOULIN—Two very deserving Manitoulin Island musicians were inducted into the Great Northern Opry recently in ceremonies held in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, while another Islander was presented with a special award for her efforts and dedication to the Northern Ontario Country Music Association.

Both singer-guitarist Jeff Gilmore and drummer Tim Shaw were inducted into the Northern Ontario Country Music Associations (NOCMA) Great Northern Opry.

“Tim was the 104th inductee and Jeff is the 105th to be inducted,” said Glen McDougall, a local member of the NOCMA board. “They are both very deserving of now being in the fold of the NOCMA and the Opry, and can enjoy the camaraderie and being in the presence of all the musicians who have been inducted previously who were in attendance,” said Mr. McDougall. “The number of talented musicians in Northern Ontario is incredible.”

As well as the two inductees, Beth McDougall of Providence Bay was awarded with the Barb Arnill award. This award is presented, “to a member of the Northern Ontario Country Music Association that has shown a dedication to country music and the future of the (NOCMA); by supporting both with hard work and dedication and unquestionable loyalty.”

“After being inducted I sang a song (Tahiti Treat) that I had wrote about one and half or two years ago,” said Mr. Gilmore. “I thanked all the fans who were on hand and those who come out to watch each one of us perform, because without them there would be no us or an (NOCMA). And mentioned the support our families provide by allowing us to play at concerts.”

“The whole weekend was really well organized and well done,” said Mr. Gilmore. “It is certainly a big honour to be inducted into the NOCMA. As I said at the awards ceremony (with over 550 people in attendance), I just wonder how a  country bumpkin like myself could be inducted into the NOCMA, having first started to sing when I was younger at campfires; and how I could be standing alongside all these people who are so incredibly talented and have spent years in music as professionals. It is pretty amazing.”

Mr. Gilmore pointed out his start in music wasn’t something he appreciated at the time  but does now. “My mother Carole (Gilmore) used to make my brother and I sing in church. I really didn’t like it at the time but I’m thankful now that she did this.”

“I palled around with the Gilchrists and they had guitars and would have sing alongs by the bonfire,” said Mr. Gilmore. “It was Ronnie (Gilchrist) that got me started. The first show I ever played was at the Gore bay Airport days in 1998, Ronnie got me  up on the stage and he got me singing with Country Pride. When he passed away the band decided to change the name to Double Barrel and we’ve continued ever since.”

“I’m really happy Tim (Shaw) was inducted as well, he certainly deserves it,” sated Mr. Gilmore.

Mr. Shaw, a member of the band Down Yonder, said “it is unbelievable to be inducted and receive the ring. You have no idea how you will feel until you are presented with the ring on being inducted. When the ceremony took place I echoed the same thing Glen (McDougall) had said when he was inducted, what is a hayseed from Manitoulin Island doing on stage and being in the presence of all these talented musicians. It is very humbling.”

Mr. Shaw, who  performed the song “Wipeout” on stage after being officially inducted, acknowledged and thanked in his speech Dave Patterson, the president of the NOCMA, local representative Glen McDougall, and other Island members, Ken Elford, who he got his start with in music, the members of Down Yonder for allowing him to be part of the band, and his wife and children for their encouragement and support in his musical career.

“I’m really proud and happy Jeff (Gilmore) was inducted into the NOCMA,” said Mr. Shaw. “He did a bang-up job with his song at the ceremony, and shouldn’t take a backseat to anyone in singing and playing the guitar. He represented Manitoulin Island very well.”

“I am thankful for Ken Elford and Country Gold for being where  I am now,” said Mr. Shaw. He taught himself to play drums out of high school and was good enough to be noticed by Ken Elford who asked him to play with his band, Ken Elford and Country Gold. And now he has been with Down Yonder for the past 11 years.

“I have been very blessed to play with the amount of talented people that I have, both on and off the Island,” said Mr. Shaw.

Mr. McDougall pointed out there were 53 people on a bus from Manitoulin Island up to the Sault for the weekend.