Bard of the Bonnechere

The Killaloe area lost a driving, creative personality with a zest for living when Barry Goldie died on March 26, 2021. Barry was full of good and fun ideas, and he was a generous collaborator who loved to encourage creativity in others. Above: Barry playing guitar. Photo submitted.

Barry lived with his partner, Lucy King, in the beautiful house they built on the Bonnechere River near Tramore in 1994. Barry spent a lot of time with his children, step-children, grandchildren and a large circle of family and friends who remember Barry as a kind friend and a loving family man.

A native of Flint, Michigan, a teacher and a University of Michigan theatre arts graduate, Barry came to the Madawaska Valley in 1972 with the back-to-the-land dream. He settled with his then-wife, Arlene, on the old Malone homestead in the Siberia Road area, deep in the bush, 12 km south of Barry’s Bay. There, he built his first house—a “cordwood” structure built with help from a community work bee—out of short log lengths stacked like firewood and mortared together. His children, Augusta and Cameron, were born there, and the family raised animals, worked hard at homesteading and got to know people in the community.

Theatre was always in Barry’s heart, and he launched the Upper Madawaska Theatre Group, which performed for the first time at the inaugural Killaloe Craft Fair in 1976, doing a show called “LIVE Spelled Backwards.” Over the years, the little homegrown company staged dozens of shows, many written by group members on local themes. Though most of the group were amateurs, Barry taught them how to look like pros on stage.

Some of the group’s best-remembered shows, “A Place to Roost” and “Al Capone’s Hideout”, typified the company’s and Barry’s spirit. “Roost,” or “The Chicken Play,” as it came to be known, told the story of a city rooster who moved to the country and had to deal with many terrors including the weasel who kills chickens in the night. “Capone” was a musical written by five group members that told the story, from a local perspective, of when the famous gangster holed up in the Quadeville area in the 1930s. Photo inset shows Barry Goldie as Al Capone. Submitted.

barry-goldie-as-al-capone

Barry was from an industrial town, and his work and writing usually took the side of the little guy, the ordinary person.

Later, Barry helped launch Stone Fence Theatre, with which he cowrote and directed shows for six years, including “Reflections of a Century: The Musical”. He wrote many memorable songs for that and other plays, including “Moonshine Down” and “There’s a Thousand Ways to Die in Renfrew County.”

For forty years in the Ottawa Valley, Barry made a living as a trusted carpenter and home-builder. Many local homes, cottages and public spaces, like Killaloe’s Station Park, attest to his vision and care.

Barry’s great love of life is reflected in the songs he wrote. In 2007, he recorded a CD called “Life on the Bonnechere.” It includes many odes to the beauty and history of this area, as well as the humorous hit, “Redneck Rivera,” which describes, in tongue-in-cheek fashion, the joys of living by the Bonnechere. “It’s like paradise to me,” Barry sang of his home. In summer and fall, he’d often be seen out on the river with grandkids or sitting by the riverbank in the evening.

It won’t be as much fun along the Bonnechere without him.

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