New Brunswick

Refurbished King's Square bandstand unveiled

About 400 people turned out to see the newly-refurbished King's Square bandstand in Saint John on Thursday and to learn who was behind the $100,000-project.

Mystery donors to $100K-project also revealed as John Irving and Dr. Richard Currie

The King Edward VII Memorial Bandstand has a new fountain and marble base, a shiny copper roof and fresh coat of paint. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)
Mayor Mel Norton revealed John Irving and Dr. Richard Currie were the mystery donors of the renovation project. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

About 400 people attended the unveiling of the newly-refurbished King's Square bandstand in Saint John on Thursday.

The century-old landmark has been covered up for months during the renovations.

But it has been restored to its former glory, with a new fountain and marble base, a shiny copper roof, fresh paint and upgraded electrical work.

St. Mary's band was the first to play in the King's Square bandstand in about 20 years, officials said. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Mayor Mel Norton also revealed the anonymous donors footing the bill for the $100,000-project as being John Irving and Dr. Richard Currie.

"You only get one home town," recounted Currie of a friend talking to him. "And that's how I feel about Saint John," he said.

Currie said he had very fond memories of King's Square as a child. "I never thought I'd be in the position to restore it and to be able to do that was very emotional," he said.

St. Mary's band performed as part of the ceremonies, the first band to grace the King Edward VII Memorial Bandstand in decades.

Conductor Bruce Holder said he was happy to be back.

"First time I actually played up here was 1951 with the military band. And I've played it many times since. But this is the first time I've been up here probably in 20 years or more," he said.

Norton announced that will also be changing. The city will begin hosting a concert series at the bandstand three days a week this month —Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at noon, he said.

Irving believes one of the ways to keep the bandstand looking good is by booking big acts.

There's already talk of participation by the Imperial Theatre, which is located across the street, he said.

"I think that the idea is they're very complimentary," said Irving. "You've got a wonderful indoor venue without equal in Canada. And now, you've got the amazing outdoor venue, also without equal in Canada."

Project foreman Andrew Shaw said he and his workers were up at 5 a.m. putting the finishing touches on their months of hard work.

"Just watching all the smiles on everybody's faces and all the elderly people that remember the bands that used to play, and watching them play again. It's just, it's really exciting to be here. It's a proud moment," he said.

The bandstand was a gift to the city from the City Cornet Band in 1909.

The original cornet on top has been replaced. The original will go on display at the New Brunswick Museum.