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Nanny's Piano

The following story is submitted by Sue LeMaistre of Head Office in Charlottetown.

It was a beauty – it was an ancient upright and had its share of scuff marks, but as a musically inclined young girl in the 1960s, I loved it. Nanny's piano had a special, mellow, old-wood sound, and you barely had to touch the keys to make it come alive! I had had access to many pianos, and wondered what made this one so special...

The family bought it in Montreal before the Second World War from a Madame Choquette, who was a music teacher and performer.

When the LeMaistres moved to the Gaspé Coast and the War started, the piano became a community resource. Every time there was a variety concert, or an amateur hour, or a dance at the local hall, "the boys" would back a truck around to Nanny's house, load up the piano and drive it to its "gig."

Nanny's piano accompanied the local talent. It played for wartime sweethearts, for men and women who would never make it back home, for those who would return and always remember "the good old days" when you had to make your own fun, for young and old, rich and poor. It provided respite, hope and tied people together in a unique way.

I have since concluded that perhaps the sound had something to do with Madame Choquette's close relationship with the piano. There was also no doubt that its resonance sprang from its central role in the lives of rural Canadians at war, and its importance in the musical nurturing of every member of the LeMaistre family over the years after.

Sue LeMaistre
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