British Columbia

Sarah McLachlan adds guitar to Vancouver instrument library

Juno and Grammy award winning singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan donated a guitar to the Vancouver Public Library's instrument lending library on Monday. The Library received another 50 instruments from Sun Life Financial to expand the program.

The Juno and Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter's guitar was one of 50 instruments donated

Singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan personally donated a guitar to the Vancouver Public Library's instrument lending program on Monday. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

There are now even more instruments to check out at the Vancouver Public Library's musical instrument lending library.

Singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan contributed a guitar to the collection on Monday, and Sun Life Financial, which donated the original 100 instruments last year, expanded the Vancouver program by another 50 instruments.

"For many of us, music is what makes the difference for us in life," said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson Monday at the program expansion announcement at the Vancouver Public Library.

"Music is what got me through my earlier years. Certainly high school, it was an essential part of making me who I am," said the mayor, adding that he was drawn to the tuba, an instrument he had to borrow from his school as a child.

Singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan (second from right) reacts as Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson strikes his best rock star pose at the Vancouver Public Library on Monday. Also pictured from left, Sandra Singh, chief librarian and Kyla Epstein, the chair of Vancouver Public Library Board. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

McLachlan, who was forced to start her musical education with the ukulele, because she was too small for the guitar at four years old, said it was only a stroke of luck that got her a piano to play when she was 11.

"A family was leaving town and they left us their upright piano — I never would have gotten a piano otherwise. We couldn't afford it, but it was a glorious instrument," she said.

'Beg borrow and steal'

"Well, it's beg, borrow, and steal. I mean, if you have a passion to do something, you'll figure out a way, and I think that's one of the beautiful things about this initiative is it's giving people that opportunity," McLachlan said of the instrument lending library.

The instrument lending library received another 30 musical instruments from members of the public during an instrument drive, so the collection is now approaching 200 guitars, drums, mandolins and other instruments.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, VPL board chair Kyla Epstein and Sarah McLachlan watch from the front row as Sarah McLachlan School of Music students Simran Sandhu, 19, and Gurnaz Sandhu, 16, perform a song. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Sun Life Financial announced it was also matching the Vancouver donations at the Toronto and Montreal public libraries where instrument lending programs are already up and running.

President Kevin Dougherty also said the company plans to launch the program in several smaller cities, with 150 instruments each. He wasn't clear on how many cities would benefit or which ones.

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker