Summer concert series set to go on Minister’s Island

(Mary LeBlanc photo) Owen Steel performs at one of the summer concerts on Minister’s Island.

MINISTER’S ISLAND – The annual summer concert series on Minister’s Island will open on July 2.

The series has been running for about eight years according to organizer Jamie Steel, who said the idea started as a way to help draw more people to the island.

“I think the initial hope was that this was seen as some value added for becoming a member of the island,” said Steel.

Marketing director for the island Michael Meagher said the island was the summer home of William Van Horne, who led the building of the first transcontinental railway in Canada and was president of Canadian Pacific Railway. The island is listed as a national historic site.

Van Horne, according to Meagher, was “a great entertainer” who would invite his business associates to the island and “entertain them with the two great delights in his life: superb food and great music.”

So began the history of concerts on the island.

“Now that we’ve gone more than 100 years later, we’re continuing the tradition of great food and great music,” said Meagher.

The series isn’t based on any specific style of music, but Steel says it’s mainly East Coast musicians who are “in vogue at the time.” The roster over the years has primarily been “East Coast artists and a mixture of emerging and established talents.”

Access to the island is only available during low tide via a gravel bar that goes from the end of Bar Road over to the island. There is no boat or ferry to shuttle people back and forth.

“We have to look at the tide schedule, and it just so happens that it tends to be every other week,” said Steel, adding one day on a weekend works. He said this is the first year all the events have been on a Sunday.

Steel says to keep the logistics simpler, acts are typically solo or duo, although he has had some larger groups, and are often acoustic.

“There’s not a huge amount of production involved,” he added.

In terms of the food, Meagher said the Canada Day weekend show will have a “major holiday weekend barbecue” for people to enjoy.

The season concert schedule is available on the Minister’s Island website and there are links to buy show tickets. Food can be purchased once on the island, although Meagher says they may offer a combined music and food option at some point during the season.