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Social media post reunites family with old Christmas recording of them singing

Aunt Bessie, Uncle Bob, little Dorothy Jane Lavoie singing Christmas carols in the early 1960s.
Don McCormick, photographed at a pub he favours, got a pleasant surprise when he clicked on a Facebook post and heard Christmas carols sung by his family in the 1960s. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

It was a reel coincidence.

View Royal resident Don McCormick clicked on a Facebook group post on Old Victoria BC and voices from his past rang out.

Aunt Bessie, Uncle Bob, little Dorothy Jane Lavoie singing Christmas carols in the early 1960s.

“I was sitting there last night and no kidding, to hear those voices again. I know those voices,” said McCormick.

The post, written by Alan Gilsmith, asked if the last name “Lavoy or Lavoie” rang a bell with anyone.

“I have this old tape made before Christmas 1965 by this family. Many kids singing carols and talking. They mention Spencer Castle a few times leading me to believe it was taped there,” wrote Gilsmith. “I would like to get this back to the family. All of the kids talking and singing would be in their 60s now.”

He attached a short video of the tape being played on a reel-to-reel machine. Someone is talking about Liberace. A little girl is singing Away in a Manger. There is a lot of giggling in the background. Then a woman says the tape is being made to send to Bruce for Christmas “and we want everybody in it. This is your warmup.”

McCormick quickly messaged Gilsmith.

“Wow … that’s my family … BINGO you found us,” he wrote. “Uncle Bob, Aunt Bessy and Dorothy Jane. Uncle Bruce was in Washington. Aunt Bessy worked at Spencer Castle. … I think the voice on the recorder is Aunty Verna.”

Gilsmith asked McCormick if he wanted the tapes.

“If you don’t have a reel to reel I can copy to a cassette which would be easier to find a player for. There is almost two hours in total.”

Gilsmith told McCormick he bought two tapes at a garage sale in Gordon Head back in the fall. When he listened to the tapes, he asked the woman he bought them from if she wanted them back. She said the people on the tape weren’t related to her.

Gilsmith decided to try and find the family — a feat he accomplished in 24 hours.

He’s now transferring the recordings to a cassette and plans to give it and the reel-to reel tapes to McCormick.

“The family is sort of excited,” said McCormick, who will send the recordings to his cousins Dorothy Jane and Cathy, who live in Kelowna now.

The sound of the old voices has stirred up lots of memories for McCormick. He said he remembers making tapes and sending them to his uncle all the time.

“We were sort of a musical family. I still sing. I’ve been a singer all my life.”

He remembers his visits to Spencer Castle where Aunt Bessie worked. “They used to have tea on the lawn in the day back in the 1960s for Mother’s Day.”

Aunt Bessie died a few years ago at the age of 96. Her husband Bob passed in the 1970s, said McCormick.

They lived on Ruby Road, which is now McKenzie Avenue. His grandparents’ house was also there, torn down for the University Heights shopping centre, he recalled.

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