Musician. Author. Speaker.

Dear Canada Blog #7 March 2nd 2018

Rough night. Very rough night. Coughed a lot, which of course kept me awake for most of the night. Thank goodness tonight is a night off.

Got up around 7:30am and repeated the ritual of oregano oil, under the tongue, a big blast of Vitamin C, hot steaming shower and breathing in eucalyptus aroma.

Headed down and had breakfast then got all my stuff packed up for an 11am lobby call.

We then headed to Duke Point Terminal to catch the ferry back over to the mainland.


Today is March 2nd. A significant date in my life, for it is the birthdate of one of the greatest characters I ever knew. EVER!

My father, Hughie Frew. There was simply no one like him. Whenever I write stories about my history, a word that will crop up time and time again is .....character. I LOVE characters and believe me, growing up in Scotland in a town like Coatbridge, I was surrounded by them constantly.




Two of the greatest of them were my grandfather on my mother’s side, Jimmy Fleming and his son-in-law  ( my father) Hughie. One might think it’s an odd combination of a man and his son-in-law, ( as opposed to his own son), to be best friends but that, they were.

They were inseparable right up until the sudden death of my grandfather in 1965. A long lifetime ago.

It was in our little living room that I first experienced the power of “putting on a show.” My dad used to put on “full productions” and he would hand-pick the entertainment from the group that would be present on that particular Friday or Saturday night. My aunt Sadie, Aunt Nan or my mum would sometimes argue because he perhaps only needed “one” on the “bill” that night! And they ALL wanted to be THAT ONE!

Pals of his whom he had been with earlier in the pub, would raise their hands vying frantically to be chosen. Us kids would all sit patiently, as the adults then went into the kitchen to get ready.  My dad would eventually call me into the kitchen to tell me “who he was” and then when the show was about to start he would send me out to announce him.

“Ladies & Gentlemen,” I would announce. “We have him here tonight, all the way from Piccadilly, at GREAT EXPENSE! Put your hands together for..,,,,BURLINGTON BERTIE!!”

The crowd would cheer ( us kids, my grandad, my granny, and a few pub stragglers, and then out he would come and begin the show!

“ I’m Burlington Bertie, I rise at 10:30! and saunter along like a toff

I walk down the strand

with my gloves on my hand

Then I walk down again with them off.”

Hughie performing as the Arab Prince,” The Red Shadow.” 

Hughie performing as the Arab Prince,” The Red Shadow.” 

Oh the magical nights we had. No money to speak of but a room filled with love and laughter, song and friendship and of course it was all “Wae Yer Family!” 

He made an appearance in the Glass Tiger video for “I’m Still Searching,” which went #1 winning the World Video Award for Canada along the way. He always loved to say, “ Have you seen MY video!!”   

Hughie and his son, on the set of I’M STILL SEARCHING. 

Hughie and his son, on the set of I’M STILL SEARCHING. 

Happy Birthday Hughie, I Love you.


We went on board our ferry “The Queen of Alberni,” and set off around 12:45pm. One of today’s perks on our journey today was the fact that the Captain Bob Granley is a pal of ours and so we travelled over to the mainland via “The Bridge.”


Bob is a gem of guy, ex-navy and a superb pilot. Last year he took me up in a RV6 and he turned me “upside-down” with the flick of the wrist. It’s seems apropos that his company is called SNAPROLL!!


For a guy that used to be chronically afraid to fly, I have done well these past 10years or so dealing with that fear. I swear it’s been all the flying I have done with the military that has helped me with this. I have been in so many helicopters and planes of all shapes and sizes that I have over to it all. On one trip to the North Pole our landing gear would come down, the Captain tried all kinds of “flicking the wings” moves to see if he could set it free but to no avail. Then suddenly on side popped down but still not the other. And so without any fanfare, two airmen came in and said to me, “ Excuse us a sec, Mr Frew, we just need to get by you.” And so I moved over and one began to take a steel plate of the side of the plane and then proceeded to basically climb “inside” the wing as the other airman would pass him various wrenches and hammers. Bang! bang! thud! clank! bang! This went on for what seemed an eternity. The Captain even announced we would go instead to Greenland where they were more capable of handling “the type of landing.......required!!”

And so to Greenland we went. But you know what? These boys got the job done and down came the wheels.

Sam and I with Minister of National Defence at the time, The Honourable Peter McKay, ( inside a C-17 aircraft).

Sam and I with Minister of National Defence at the time, The Honourable Peter McKay, ( inside a C-17 aircraft).

I asked the Captain later what would have happened had only one side remained down. As cool as you like he said,” it would never have been a problem. I would have landed on one wheel and coasted gently. The only thing you would have noticed was at the very end when she plopped over and tilted to one side.”

I believe him.

I continue to nurse my cough. I went for a steam and had my oregano and eucalyptus. Later I met the lads downstairs and we went for some sushi. We then headed back to hotel and I sat in the lobby bar with Al & Sam and had one beer with them before bidding them a goodnight.

Very soon after, I was off to the land of nod.

Goodnight Dear Canada.