A Good Night at the Brockville Arts Centre by Reg Coffey – 15 October 2011

CFN – When Jamie and I had the tour of the Brockville Arts Centre I had already purchased a couple of pairs of tickets to see the Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Café show at the centre. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to follow up to our story about Brock-Vegas and test out some of the great stuff that we were told about the city and the arts centre.

Aside from it being a wet and blustery night, we had a great evening. Our first stop of the night was to the Grindstone Tapas Bar at The Mill Restaurant. I chose this restaurant because it was only a block away from the arts centre and it was highly recommended during my first tour of the city. We went to the tapas bar because I knew the concert was going to be at least a couple of hours long and we just wanted a light meal.

My wife and I shared the Mediterranean Salad and the Sharing Plate of chorizo sausage skewers , potato braca, stuffed mushrooms and baguette. Our guests also decided on the same order. We were very impressed with the quality of the food and it was just enough to keep us from getting drowsy in the theatre.

If we would have had time we could have stayed there all night eating our way through the entire menu. We were even impressed with the beverages we were served. The Cracked Canoe lager from Moosehead Brewery was delightfully light and refreshing and the Pino Grigio was well suited to the food. Even a simple  glass of ginger ale served in a full size decorative tumbler with cracked ice showed an attention to detail that is often missing even in finer dining establishments.

We didn’t have time to try the coffee but then, I do set a pretty high standard for coffee and usually avoid it to not be disappointed at the end of a good meal.


The arts centre was packed by the time we got there but there was no problem getting in and moving around the bar room and lobby. With the reserved seating there is no reason to rush or crowd the doors and everyone was just milling about with good humour. The piano player did show up by show time so we didn’t hear the rejuvenated Steinway piano in the bar being played. I guess I’ll have to go back for another show to hear it.

The program featured Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Café. For the lack of originality I am going to quote the BAC web site:

“Stuart McLean is one of Canada’s most beloved storytellers and a best selling author.  His hit CBC radio show THE VINYL CAFÉ premiered in 1994, and each week over 1 million listeners tune in to hear stories about Dave, owner of the second hand record store where the motto is: “We may not be big, but we’re small.”.

The stories also feature Dave’s wife, Morley, their two children, Sam and Stephanie, and assorted friends and neighbours.

The show also features live and recorded music by both up-and-coming and established Canadian musicians.

The entire show felt like an inside joke. If you are a listener of The Vinyl Café then you immediately recognize the direction and humour of Stuart’s stories. One of my guests had never even heard of either Stuart McLean or The Vinyl Café,  but she still got most of the humour and thoroughly enjoyed all the stories. The show was comfortable and funny and familiar and entertaining. The guest musical group was Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, a husband and wife team also known as “Whitehorse”. Their music was an original, expertly performed blend of country/folk/blues. In all it was a great relaxing evening of intelligent entertainment.

Now, as far as the BAC was concerned I would have to confirm everything we were told about the centre.  The seats were comfortable, the sound system was fantastic, the lighting was perfect and the stage was well suited to the performance. Peter Dunn, the centre’s manager, seemed to be everywhere before, during intermission and after the performance ready to answer any questions and to lend a helping hand. At the end of the evening it was obvious to me that Mr. Dunn did not exaggerate any aspect of his Brockville Arts Centre.

Good job Brockville and good job Peter Dunn!

Best Western Cornwall



  1. Just a little added information, Peter Dunn is featured in the picture with the Steinway piano and his official title is “Administrator of Cultural Programs”.

  2. Good lead, great review, Reg. Thanks.

Leave a Reply