Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stairwell Carolling in the Byward Market, Ottawa, Canada

New Stairwellers, Adam, Felicia and Nikki get into caroling
 Caroling is what we do. Our name is the Stairwell Carollers, but it's been years since we caroled in a stairwell or on the street or in a bus -- 2007 to be exact.
Caroling in the Ottawa U residence stairwell for the choirs 30th anniversary

Time was, back in  the day, when Christmas season came around, the Stairwell Carollers would have over twenty appearances around town -- caroling. Not so much anymore, since we do big Carol concerts..

This caroling included a couple of free concerts that we'd give, when asked by a local church or community center. They would advertise, sell tickets and keep the proceeds to use for their own benevolent purposes. Now, we are hired out by similar groups, and both of our charitable efforts are funded that way.
Caroling in Riverside Hospital

 We've organized ourselves to the point where caroling seemed too random -- and certainly makes no money.

But wait! When we began, back in 1977,  Pete said all he wanted to do was "bring the spirit of Christmas to everyone." That "everyone", to me, means people who DON'T go to choir concerts. 

Serendipitous chance decided this year that we would stroll back to the sweet roots of our group and walk out into the randomness that is street caroling. That chance was a cancelled concert booking. I don't remember who jumped on the idea of caroling down in the Byward Market, Saturday, Dec 3rd, but I was all over it like White on Frosty.

I was kind of hoping we'd be arrested.

Well, not really, but risk is part of the fun -- you never know how people will take you. I mean... some people don't even like Christmas -- and here we are, twenty-five wild and crazy people, singing at the top of their lungs -- in red and green cloaks -- walking from Sparks street to Rideau and then down into the Byward Market.

Happy to say, we saw it all:

Paul brought his flag!
Our chance to stroll downtown Ottawa in full Christmassy regalia (and with a Santa flag) singing till our throats hurt...

The guy clapping his hands and waving and hooting from his car to us as we strolled past the Cenotaph..

Discovering the acoustics in the "old train station" center of the Market..

The girl who listened to Stille Nacht and buried her face in her boyfriends shirt as the tears started falling...

The gorgeous gaggle of beautiful people who stood by their fancy cars, thrilled when we stopped to sing Carol of the Bells just for them...


We sing for celebrities??
Realizing that we could sing on the third level of the Rideau center and be heard all the way down to the first, where the Salvation army girl rang her bell in time with the songs...

Outside in the Market, the little old man, well in his cups, who danced and conducted us through  Iesous Ahatonnia...

The distinguished older gentleman with a tear in his eye, who pressed a twenty into Pete's hand exclaiming "this isn't enough -- nothing could be enough." ...

Carolers on the escalator at the Rideau center
Being tracked down by a CTV cameraman who did some impromptu filming of our singing!

Quite thrilling to be followed by a cameraman in the middle of Byward Market!
The busker who followed us, accompanying our voices with his flute....

And all the other lovely people who listened, requested songs, cheered and clapped as we gave them an unexpected Christmas gift -- for nothing.

What am I saying  -- we were the ones who got the gift.  It was an amazing day!  NOW PRESS PLAY

Finally, we all crowded into the entrance of the Keg, sang one last song (really for us) and said our goodbyes till the next rehearsal. A group of  us stayed for supper. Which we didn't sing for :)

Oh, and Ryan's binder was squashed flat by a car on Rideau street.   Luckily, Ryan was not there when it happened.


  1. Can we do it again next year, please?

  2. Thanks so much for the opportunity to get "back to our roots," so to speak. Even though our schedule back then was INSANE!!!, it was fun watching the reactions of people when we just popped out of nowhere. Don't get me wrong - concerts are great; I love the discipline (and, in our case, camaraderie) it requires! But to just sing, and have that make people stop what they're doing for a few minutes, and truly pay attention to what we're doing, is amazing. Thank you, Holly, for all that you do to promote us and for being just a great person.. and thank you, too, Pete, for years of joy (and sanity!), not just at Christmas, but for the 10 months of the year that we practice and perform. I hope I can keep doing this for many more years to come! :o)

  3. Thanks Diane -- It's been a wonderful ride! Love ya!

  4. Love your sound! I would love to join as an old choir singer, mostly barbershop. Who can I contact?

  5. Thanks for the compliment :)
    Since we are a limited size group we do auditions in the fall if needed. Just visit our Auditions or Contact Us! page and drop us an email.

  6. Oh so cute, those outfits back in the 70s.

    do you still sing those songs you did back then?

    1. Yes, some of them, but as the group got larger (now 25) we could learn carols that are more complex or have more parts. We still have just as much fun!


You can also email your questions to me - info (at) stairwellcarollers (dot) com.
Holly :)

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