July 26, 2013
A new plan by St. Paul’s Councillor Josh Matlow could see the children’s playground in June Rowlands Park named after Sharon, Lois & Bram.
The playground naming would be fitting given the contributions the trio – all of whom live in Matlow’s ward – have made to both children’s entertainment and to Canadian culture on the whole since they formed in 1978.
“Sharon, Lois & Bram are iconic performers who have meant so much to the lives of Canadian children and children around the world,” Matlow said. “When I found out that Bram lived right around June Rowlands Park and the other two were in the ward as well, it just made sense.”
The playground at June Rowlands Park has never been named. Should it be named in honour of Sharon, Lois & Bram, Matlow said he hopes to have an elephant-shaped sign in recognition of the trio’s first album, One Elephant, Deux Elephants and their television program The Elephant Show.
“Most of us in our 20s and 30s grew up with Sharon, Lois & Bram and they have a special place in our hearts,” Matlow said. “You see parks named after politicians, but we need to be celebrating our artists as well.”
Bram Morrison said the trio was honoured to be considered and hopes to see Matlow’s plan become a reality.
“We’ve been honoured in different ways over the years with Juno Awards, gold and platinum records and the Order of Canada, but this is really grassroots and really fitting,” he said.
He noted Sharon, Lois & Bram became such a cultural touchstone because they aimed to create more than simple ditties for kids.
“We felt we were making music for the whole family, which meant we weren’t going to do the very, very simple, pared-down synthesizer arrangements you hear so much on children’s records,” he said. “We worked with different kinds of music and our songs ranged from one voice singing to all three of us doing a three-part harmony.”
Sharon Hampson echoed Morrison’s sentiments regarding the playground naming, pointing out it was an honour both unexpected and appropriate given the trio’s legacy.
She noted she drove her grandchildren past the playground to tell them the news and said though they are too old to fully enjoy using the play area, “I’ll find someone to take.”
She added that, should the playground naming go ahead as expected, the trio could even take the stage to dedicate it.
“It’s all unfolding in delightful, unexpected ways,” she said. “If there’s a ceremony, it would be hard for us not to get up and sing a couple of songs.”
That alone would be a treat for children and parents who grew up with Sharon, Lois & Bram’s music, particularly given that Lois Lilienstein no longer tours with the other two.
“We still sing together but what we do now is concerts for causes,” Lilienstein said, adding the naming of the park would provide the trio with a great reason to take the stage.
“Our harmony might be a bit rusty, but we can still turn it out,” she said.
In order for the name to become official, the councillor’s proposal will have to be passed at council. It is set to go before Toronto and East York Community Council Sept. 10.
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