The Recorder and Times staff
Published on: March 5, 2020

Six more join Arts Hall of Fame

Six more people will be honoured for their contributions to local culture as they enter the Brockville and Area Music and Performing Arts hall of Fame later this month.

The Hall of Fame committee on Wednesday released the results of voting from the members of the hall.

The new inductees include Margaret Whisselle, who is being recognized for her musical skills. She began playing piano at age seven and playing organ for church services at 11 years old, committee members noted.

She graduated with an honour’s degree in piano from Queen’s University. Over her career, she has accompanied for St. Lawrence College, Community Christmas, the Brockville Operatic Society, Brockville Community Choir and the Maple Leaf Brass Band.

Sue Baker, who began singing in choir at Maynard Public School and while in high school was the main vocalist for the South Grenville Stage Band, is also being inducted.

Her career includes being lead vocalist for the band Crimes of Passion. In 1984, she moved back to Brockville and continued to sing in festivals and night clubs. In 1996, she began performing children’s music with H&S Express. She eventually formed her own band called “Sue Baker and the 1000 Islands Band.”


A.J. Benoit, who recently stepped back from running and performing in musical shows, also joins the Hall of Fame. He has appeared in Brockville Operatic Society productions in chorus roles and in memorable lead roles in Singing In the Rain and Kiss Me Kate, and has presented such community shows as Silver Wings and Bless ‘em All in support of local projects.

Hall of Fame members also chose Todd Noel, who started his performing career while a student at Brockville Collegiate Institute and was cast in productions with both the operatic society and Brockville Theatre Guild. He pursued a professional career, appearing in Canadian productions of Les Misérables, Cats, and Phantom of the Opera and on a Broadway tour of Showboat. He returned to Brockville in 2009 to direct Singing in the Rain for the operatic society.

Seasoned sound technician Al Torrance is also among this year’s inductees. Committee members said he is widely known for his expertise, as well as his professionalism and strong work ethic. He is currently president of the local musicians’ union and continues to perform with local talent such as Tom Wilson.

And this year’s posthumous inductee is the late John Ballachey, who is being recognized for his commitment and involvement in the performing arts spanning more than 40 years. He was a teacher, actor and a part of the stage crew for many operatic society performances including The Wizard of Oz, Annie Get Your Gun, Oliver and My Fair Lady. He shared his passion and expertise on the Brockville Operatic Society board for several years.

As is the tradition, the new members will be inducted in a special musical show at the Brockville Arts Centre on March 26.

The musical entertainment that night will include performances by many of the new inductees as well as Chris Coyea and Alex Fleuriau Chateau and the Hall of Fame Orchestra under the direction of Lance Besharah.