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Bob Hunter's family donates $50K for public art installation

Bob Hunter was well known in Barrie's business and music circles, seven days a week
2019-04-15 Bob Hunter
The family of the late Bob Hunter has donated $50,000 to the city to be used for a public art installation at Meridian Place in downtown Barrie. Photo supplied

The family of the late Bob Hunter, who was well known in both business and arts circles in Barrie, has donated $50,000 to create a music-themed art installation to be created at Meridian Place. 

"At that time, a lot of the people that he dealt with during the day came to listen to his music during the weekend," said his 70-year-old son, Marc Hunter, adding music was very important to his father. "From the time he was in high school, all the way through, he basically played a concert until a week before he passed away." 

In fact, there was a time in the late 1990s when three generations of the Hunter family played trumpet together in the Barrie Concert Band, including Bob, Marc and his daughter, Tara. 

"That was a high point," Marc Hunter told BarrieToday

As part of city policy, the Barrie Public Arts committee would also fundraise at least $50,000 in funds to match the Hunter family's donation. The committee would also be responsible for planning and commissioning the piece. 

"We weren't worried about that one way or the other," Marc Hunter said, adding the family just wanted to memorialize Bob Hunter in same fitting way.

There are specific locations within Meridian Place that are to be used for art pieces, such as sculptures. 

"We're hoping we can score one of those," Marc Hunter said. 

The Hunter family would like to see something that reflects his love of performing, his commitment to the community and his vision of Barrie’s beautiful waterfront as a place to gather and enjoy.

"We'd just like to have something to recognize Father," Marc Hunter said. "He would never do it himself; he wasn't one to, pardon the pun, toot his own horn. I'm quite excited about the whole idea."

Music was a huge part of the Hunter family, "and it never really left," said his son. "I still play and so does my sister out in Vancouver. My daughter still plays, too. Her son has just got a trumpet for his ninth birthday, too.

"It's been forced in the blood," he joked. "I'm excited about that as well."

Bob Hunter is perhaps best remembered, though, for starting his own dance band, which continued for many years.

The Bob Hunter Band gained a following throughout the area, playing at the Minet’s Point Pavilion, “the Pav” in Orillia and at countless other locations and function around Simcoe County and beyond.

As Barrie’s waterfront began to be developed, Bob Hunter also felt strongly that there should be an outdoor facility where people could meet and enjoy what musicians and other artists love to do, which was to perform. He was unflagging in his enthusiasm for this vision, which dated back to 1967, and presented several ideas to the city.

"It's unfortunate (that it never came to fruitition) because that sort of thing would be very popular now, but was unheard of at the time," his son said.

In 1999, shortly before his death, Bob Hunter and architect/friend Millet Salter submitted a proposal to the Trillium Foundation in Ottawa to acquire funding for such a venue. Unfortunately, the project did not meet their criteria, but family members say it is clear from the sketch attached to the proposal that their ideas were quite similar in design and location to Meridan Place.

Marc Hunter added the current "blow-through" design of the stage at Meridian Place doesn't work well for brass instruments. 

"With electronic music, they can aim it at you, but when you're playing an acoustic instrument, you can't aim it at anything," he said. 

Bob Hunter was born Feb. 2, 1929. He married Josephine (Josie) Tersigni on Aug. 2, 1947 and together they had three children.

While attending Barrie Central Collegiate, Hunter took up the trumpet and was part of the concert band led by W.A. Fisher, for whom the auditorium is named. This developed into a lifelong passion for performing music. Over the years, he played in a number of bands, including the Barrie Concert Band, the Baytowne Big Band, and the Skyliners.

After completing school in Barrie, Hunter studied executive management at the School of Business and Administration at the University of Western Ontario in London. 

Hunter entered the world of broadcasting in 1952, and became the general manager at CKBB radio with the Barrie Broadcasting Company. He then joined the Cooper Tool Group in 1967; the Texas-based manufacturing company had operations in Barrie, Port Hope and Toronto. Hunter retired as Canadian president in 1994.

"He was in the communtiy all the time," Marc Hunter said. "And then on the weekends he was in the community with the band."

Hunter also served on the board with the Barrie Chamber of Commerce, including as president in 1968. He was also president of the Barrie Manufacturers' Association in 1975 and 1976, as well as a member of the Barrie industrial and development committee from 1982 until 1985. He was also director of the Canadian Hardward and Housewares Manufacturing Association and a member of the Rotary Club of Barrie.


Raymond Bowe

About the Author: Raymond Bowe

Raymond is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting from Simcoe County since 2000
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