Prince Albert Arts Hall of Fame inducts four on Friday evening

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) Robert Gibson, Lorna Gibson, Donny Parenteau and Fred Payton; Robert and Lorna Gibson, Donny Parenteau and the late Geoff Payton were inducted into the Prince Albert Arts Hall of Fame on Friday evening at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.

Posthumous 2022 volunteer inductee Geoff Payton and 2023 Performing Arts Music inductees Robert and Lorna Gibson, and Donny Parenteau are officially the newest members of the Prince Albert Arts Hall of Fame.

All four artists were honoured by the Prince Albert Arts Board at their annual Induction Gala at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Sept. 29. Parenteau was deeply humbled to be chosen for the Arts Hall of Fame in his hometown.

“(It’s an) absolutely amazing thing,” Parenteau said. “The feeling that I get is acceptance for doing what I do and recognition for doing what I do and the passionate love given from Prince Albert towards me for doing what I do.”

Parenteau is a versatile vocalist & multi-instrumentalist on the fiddle, mandolin, mandocaster, harmonica, acoustic, and electric guitars. He spent 12 years touring the world with Neal McCoy, recording on multi platinum-selling albums and playing on numerous shows along with performances on The Grand Ole Opry and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

After beginning his life on 12th Street West he returned to Prince Albert to continue his career.

“(It’s) kind of a trip around the sun and it was fantastic because when I first came home, that was my thing,” Parenteau remembered. “I wasn’t sure where I was going to live, or what I was going to do. I could have gone back to the United States but I stayed home. I wanted to be here with my family, and that’s how I met my wife, Patti.”

Parenteau has garnered more than 100 nominations at seven major award shows. The list includes three JUNO nominations and his first USA nomination for Best Country CD at the 2014 Native American Music Awards. Legendary broadcaster Don Mitchell spoke about Parenteau by video during the ceremony.

Parenteau is happy to now make his home base his home town.

“I remember going home and I was talking to my mother and I told her, ‘out of all the places that I could live … I want to come back home, I want to be here because it just it just felt right,’” Parenteau explained. “I love it, I am deeply honoured.”

Robert and Lorna Gibson both made significant contributions to music education and music as a whole in Prince Albert. Lorna said she appreciated the honour.

“It’s nice to be recognized by the people you work with and the people who listen to what you do,” she said. “It’s just nice to have the appreciation shown.”

Another local music teacher, David Zulkoskey, spoke about Robert and Lorna during the ceremony.

Lorna has taught theory and piano from her home studio since 1962. Until 2019, she was a member of the Prince Albert Registered Music Teachers’ Association and has also served a two-year term on the provincial board. She was a member of the Prince Albert Music Festival executive and served as the scholarship convenor for many years

Lorna was also the piano/organist accompanist at Calvary United Church for 45 years, retiring in 2022. She won the YWCA Woman of Distinction award for Arts and Culture in 1998 and a Queen Elizabeth Platinum Jubilee medal in 2022. Despite her numerous contributions, she was surprised to be nominated.

“The whole process was set in motion and you get nominated and you wait and you wonder but it was a surprise,” Lorna said.

Even after getting the award, Robert Gibson said it had not sunk in.

“It hasn’t registered actually with me,” he said. “It will and it’s a wonderful thing.”

Robert said that his initial reaction to the award was wondering why he was chosen.

“That was my initial reaction to it. Why me? People in this city stand out. My work, it doesn’t stand out.”

Robert was the director of the Prince Albert Lions Bands from 1965 to 1975 and prepared individual students and groups for festivals and public appearances. He prepared and directed the Lions Senior Band on a tour of England in 1973. He taught band and choir at various schools and retired from Carlton Comprehensive High School in 1997. He is currently the director of the Prince Albert Concert Choir and was also surprised to be nominated.

“I had no idea about that,” he said. “No, I had no idea.”

Geoff’s brother Fred Payton accepted the award on his behalf on Friday. Geoff was a founder of the Northern Image Photography Club and a teacher and volunteer in photography. He passed away in December 2020.

“It’s a matter of great pride for me, and for the members of our family,” Fred said. “To have his work appreciated even after his death is a remarkable thing in my mind. We’re just so proud of what he has done through the years. All the people that he has taught, influenced and mentored, I think it’s just so nice that he’s recognized for that.”

Paul Mengell spoke during the ceremony about Geoff Payton’s contributions. Geoff provided beginner and advanced classes in camera use for over 25 years. He provided presentations to various groups. Geoff was the President of the Northern Image Photographer (NIP) Club since its inception, not to mention a deeply respected instructor, coach and mentor.

Geoff was instrumental in forming the NIP in 1992, which now enjoys a membership of over 30 people from as far away as La Ronge, Spiritwood and Candle Lake.

Because of the posthumous award, the Payton family also held a Memorial Service for Geoff on Saturday.

“Because the family were going to be coming home for this evening. My niece decided this would be the ideal time to have the memorial service and have him interred,” Fred said. “As a result, not only did both my sisters combined my brother came home From Ontario as well, so did the whole family, so all of us are here. All the siblings are here and will be there tomorrow. Jeff brought us together as a family.

“I’m just so proud of him,” he added.