Ontario is celebrating its sesquicentennial anniversary in style. All year long, the province is marking 150 years with events across the province. ONtour is a free and all ages concert series that is stopping at more than 20 communities across Ontario featuring some pretty amazing Ontario musicians. We have the pleasure of introducing you to some of this homegrown talent with interviews leading up to their performances.
Stef Paquette will be joining Glass Tiger, David Wilcox and Andrew Hyatt TONIGHT in Hawkesbury. Then he will help to close out this wonder concert series at the last show in Petawawa on September 17th alongside Jessica Mitchell, Meghan Patrick and the Jim Cuddy Band. For more information about either of these shows, check out the official Facebook events:
Introduce yourself to the Canadian Beats readers.
Hi, I’m Stéphane «Stef» Paquette. I am an artist; it’s what I am, it’s what I do. I’m very proud to say that I get to make a living doing something I love, in French, and still reside in Northern Ontario. I am an award winning singer-songwriter, actor, improvisational coach, radio host, comedian and a father. I have been crowned with four Trille Or trophies (award given to francophone musical artists outside of Quebec) for Song of the Year (2005), Album of the Year (2013), Male Artist of the Year (2015) and for Export-Ontario (2017).
What part of Ontario are you from and/or currently reside in?
I am born and raised in Chelmsford Ontario, which is just on the outskirts of Sudbury Ontario and now part of the Greater City of Sudbury.I currently reside in Hanmer Ontario which is part of the Greater City of Sudbury.
You have been selected to be a performer in the ONTour Concert Series, an event to help celebrate Ontario’s 150th Anniversary. How does it feel to be part of this event?
Any time I get to take the stage, it’s always a good thing! And the fact that I get to meet other great artists, artists that I listen to and admire is surreal! It’s great that the ONTour Concert Series has included francophone singer-songwriters as people tend to ignore that there are over 600 000 Franco-Ontarians living in this great province of ours!
Ontario’s motto for many years has been, “Yours to discover”. What is your favourite place to explore?
If time permits, I’m all about taking the alternate route; getting off the highway to see what’s out there. I think it’s great to travel through some towns and villages that I wouldn’t necessarily get to visit if it wasn’t for what I do. I recently discovered Port Elgin, a beautiful community in Bruce County Ontario. I also recently visited Goderich Ontario’s beautiful and historic downtown! But the place I never get tired of visiting is Killarney for many reasons, and yes the fish and chips are one of them!
Touring as a musician has likely brought you to many unique locations to dine in. In your opinion, what is Ontario’s best kept secret to eat at?
I’m all about the food when I’m on tour. When you first start out, you eat what’s cheap and convenient which in turn leaves you feeling like crap. I am now in a position where I can take the time to eat and eat well even if it is more expensive. I am so serious about food that I scope out on the Internet the best places to eat in the cities that I am touring in before we leave! I’ve eaten in A LOT of great Ontario restaurants, I’ll try and narrow it down. Best egg Benedict : Wish on the corner of Charles St. & Yonge in Toronto; Best breakfast place : The Early Bird in London Ontario; Best ribs : Travelodge in Thunder Bay – but that was a long time ago, I have been out there in a long while! Best vegan food : Tucos Tacos in Sudbury & Pure Kitchen in Ottawa; Best pizza : Chicago Style Pizza in Hamilton; Best burger : The Townehouse Tavern in Sudbury & Burger Revolution in Belleville; Best chinese food and probably Ontario’s best kept secret to eat at is Wok With Chow Chinese Restaurant in Marathon Ontario!
What is your favourite Ontario music festival or venue?
Damn, that’s a tough one! I’ve had the privilege to play at many great festivals! And we’ve got some great festivals in my hometown of Sudbury like the Up Here Festival, La Nuit Émergente and The Northern Lights Festival Boréal. But as a performer, there are two festivals that were so memorable, they will stick with me for life; to the point where I constantly re-watch videos of our performances. The first is without a doubt, Blue Skies Festival which can be found somewhere in Clarendon Ontario. I just haven’t enough time or space to explain to you, in writing, how unique and special and amazing this festival is! The second is Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia Ontario. I can’t say enough about the organization, the food, the talent they bring in year after year, the site, the spectators, etc. It’s been around for a while and for good reason! (I really hope the organizers of both the Mariposa Folk Festival and Blue Skies Festival read this feel compelled to invite me again to their wonderful festival!
There are so many talented artists who are taking part in this special tour. Who are you excited to check out?
Well, I hear this Stef Paquette guy is quite entertaining… LOL. Serena Ryder was the one I was really excited to meet! It’s funny how one second your on stage, giving a great performance, being applauded generously by the spectators and the minute I step backstage and end up face to face with Serena Ryder, I become this bumbling fanboy hoping to get a picture with her! Well in Sudbury, I got more than just a picture with her, she also signed my copy of her newest vinyl record! And what a voice on that girl! Damn! Watch out David Wilcox, I coming after you next in Hawkesbury then it’s picture time with Meghan Patrick in Petawawa!
Are you performing at any other music festivals this summer that you would like to tell us about?
I actually took it easy this summer to spend time with my daughter and to write some new material. I also was busy shooting season 4 of the TVO show Hard Rock Medical, in which I play the part of Charlie Rivière, med student. I also got to play myself in the second season of Amélie et compagnie, a kids show which airs on TFO. So this summer was more tv shoots than music festivals. But once I record my new album, hopefully I’ll be back on those festival stages next summer!
What does the rest of 2017 look like for you?
It’s been a great year so far. I got to host a french music tv show for TFO called Planète BRBR on top of shooting Season 4 of Hard Rock Medical and Season 2 of Amélie et compagnie. I got to be the main act at Canada 150 festivies here in Sudbury. I got to be part of a great project called Constellation Francophone which was a live streamed concert happening in six canadian cities simultaneously! And actually this year, I’m trying my hand at stand-up comedy. I’m not sure if it’ll work out but it’s something I’ve wanted to try now for a while!
Why are you proud to be an Ontarian?
Why wouldn’t I be?!? I mean, Canada’s capital city is in Ontario! We also house the largest city in Canada, Toronto! We have two professional hockey teams, two professional football teams, a professional soccer team and baseball team and basketball team! We have a ton of great museums and festivals! We got lakes and lakes and more lakes! We have a load of great micro breweries and vineyards! I’m proud because I got to study in french and be fully bilingual in Ontario and I get to make a living as a francophone artist without having to leave this great province! Look, no province is perfect, but mine is pretty damn great!