A photographer, a country music legend, and two longtime music teachers are the newest inductees into the Prince Albert Arts Hall of Fame.
Donny Parenteau, Geoff Payton, and Robert and Lorna Gibson will be inducted at a special ceremony on Friday, Sept. 29. Cara Stelmaschuk, the Prince Albert Arts Board vice-chair of communications and publicity, said all four inductees not only blessed the city with great art, but helped develop a community that supported and promoted the next generation of artists.
“It just solidifies the fact that Prince Albert’s Art Community has always been very much a group that pulls together and gets things done themselves,” Stelmaschuk said. “When we look at the inductees we’ve had, they’re not just in it to do their own thing.
“Yes, they’re very talented and they have all these skills … but on the other hand, they’re also lining the way for the people coming up next to also develop these same skills and learn from them. They’re showing the next group of artists the way.”
Donny Parenteau spent 12 years touring the world and recording with country music star Neal McCoy. Parenteau also shared the stage with country music icons such as Charlie Daniels, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Shania Twain, and Reba McEntire, among others.
Although he received more than 100 award nominations during his career, including three JUNO nominations, Stelmaschuk said it was Parenteau’s dedication to the community that stood out, particularly his work with young musicians at the Donny Parenteau School of Music.
“It’s not just music for Donny Parenteau,” she said. “He does it for the community. He does it for the upcoming generations.”
Robert and Lorna Gibson both made their mark as music teachers in Prince Albert. Robert taught band and choir at various schools before retiring from Carlton Comprehensive High School in 1997 while Lorna taught musical theory and piano from her home studio.
They were both extensively involved in musical activities outside of teaching. Lorna served as the Prince Albert Music Festival’s scholarship convenor for many years, while Robert lead or directed many local groups, including the Prince Albert Lions Band, the Captones Mens’ Chorus, and the Sweet Adelines Ladies’ Chorus.
Lorna spent 45 years as the piano and organ accompanist at Calvary United Church, retiring in 2022, while Robert directed the Calvary United Church Choir.
“You read those bios and it’s like, ‘oh my goodness.’ They were completely in it to make sure that music had a place in Prince Albert, and that the people who enjoyed music had the ability to hear music they wanted to hear,” Stelmaschuk said.
Geoff Payton, a well-known local photographer, will be inducted posthumously as a volunteer. Payton first became interested in photography as a teenager, and later became a professional photographer as well as a salesman at Blacks Photography Store where he would assist customers in recovering and restoring old photographs, among other duties.
Patyon displayed a strong interest in nature photography, and was instrumental in forming the Northern Image Photographers in 1992. He served as the group’s first president, and taught beginner and advanced photography classes for more than 25 years. He also spearheaded efforts to organize the annual photography competition at the Prince Albert Summer Fair.
Payton lived in Prince Albert until his passing on Dec. 31, 2020.
“He loved the craft so much (and) he wanted to find ways for more people to enjoy it and he could teach them things,” Stelmaschuk. “That’s how (Northern Image Photographers) came about. It’s a way for a group of people to develop skills and then he found all kinds of ways to make it even more fun for people.”
Tickets for the induction ceremony will go on sale June 14 at the E.A. Rawlinson Box Office. Stelmaschuk said it’s important to recognize the arts and culture contributions of Prince Albert residents because they give the city a unique identity.
“Arts and Culture is what makes it nice, yes, but it’s also how we identify our town, our community, the people who have come before (and) the people who have lived before,” she said. “It’s all a fabric that gets bred through art.”