When it comes to regional nostalgia, no one is more obsessed than musician and filmmaker Peter McGennis. Growing up in Buffalo, Peter was especially fascinated with the Crystal Beach amusement park, located in Crystal Beach, Ontario (from 1888 to 1989). When the park closed, Peter took the loss personally, while vowing to keep the memories alive. He has been doing this by producing both film and song, as we have witnessed with instances such as his rock opera (film and soundtrack) titled Laff in the Dark, with catchy songs along the lines of Soul Sunshine Romance.
Pete’s penchant for keeping the memories of Crystal Beach front and center has taken plenty of dips and curves, akin to the legendary Comet rollercoaster. Now, Peter has focused his attention to the – also legendary – STR Columbia, a passenger steamboat that was built in 1902. The Columbia, currently berthed along the Buffalo River, just happens to be the doppelgänger of Buffalo’s once beloved STR Canadiana, of which only the wheelhouse and a lifeboat remain, unfortunately.
And it was the Canadiana (along with the long-gone STR Americana) that once transported thousands upon thousands of Buffalonians to Crystal Beach each summer. So of course Peter would come to showcase the Columbia (as the Canadiana) in his latest music video release, aptly titled “Canadiana” – Canadiana soul, still wanna rock n roll!
“To tell the story of Crystal Beach, one must invoke the spirit of the Canadiana,” said Peter. “Even though I am too young to have danced the Harlem Nocturne on her decks, the legendary ferry queen presents a wonderful creative vessel to not only rock n’ roll and remember, but to (someday) explore new shores. As a multimedia storyteller, I look for ways to bring the past to present and look ahead, often sharing a vision with others.
“I want to bring awareness to the Steamer Columbia Project so we don’t make the same mistake that we made scrapping the Canadiana. This storytelling takes as much effort as creativity! But that’s what makes these special. We’re all in the same boat together!”
To learn more about the plight, and hopefully bright future of the Columbia, click here.
Enjoy Pete’s latest “Canadiana” creation, which is part of his epic Laff in the Dark rock opera: