Doug & Bonnie Leaman

Doug began dancing in 1976 with the Mountain Ridge Stars in Magnetic Hill.  Three years later he graduated from the House of Roth Callers School in Clementsport, Nova Scotia under the watchful eye of Gloria Roth.  After graduation he called for the Moonlight Swingers Club in Moncton for about 17 years.

Doug became Tantramar Twirlers’ caller in 1983 when our club was 2 years old, and we welcomed him and his wife Norma into our midst.  For several years he handled two clubs, as well as a demanding job which required him to rise very early and spend a long day on the road.  Each Tuesday evening Doug and Norma travelled from Moncton to Sackville, sometimes with daughters Barbie and Pattie.  If he was tired, he didn’t let on, and we marvelled at his energy, enthusiasm and good humour as he taught us and challenged us.  There was one occasion when Doug didn’t have enough time to go home, so he stopped in Sackville with his big rig, and Norma drove down from Moncton with his calling equipment and change of clothes. 

In the 1980’s and into the 90’s the club was quite large and composed of more youthful dancers and Doug chuckles as he remembers the antics of the group.  If there was any tomfoolery you can be assured that Doug was right in the middle of it.  Doug, Norma and the club travelled to other clubs, to MCCA gatherings and to national conventions. We hear Banner Raids were taken very seriously in “those days”, and Doug has been known to lose his shirt at least once. 

Sadly Norma passed away in July 2002 and our club lost a great friend and supporter.  Her death occurred at the time of the Saint John Convention and a two minute silence in her honour was included in the closing program.  When Doug remarried, the whole club attended the ceremony as we welcomes Bonnie into our dancing family.  And “family” is the word Doug uses to describe the club – we laugh together we cry together and support each other in good times and in bad.  Bonnie has brought her own special ways to the Tantramar Twirlers and is a great soul mate to Doug and a wonderful asset to the club.  Doug is often Santa at our Christmas parties joined by Bonnie as Mrs. Claus – both in authentic outfits. 

In addition to regular club caller responsibilities, Doug never hesitates to share his time and talent with others.  He called for special dances in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island where he always provides an evening of great dancing with his clear calls and his melodious singing voice. At present, he calls one evening each year for each of the PEI clubs, with as many of his dancers accompanying him as possible.  As a result a great rapport has been built up between the Island clubs and the Tantramar Twirlers.  He has also called for conventions in Halifax, Calgary and Charlottetown and most recently at the 2013 Distinguished Service Awards Dance. 

Doug and the club regularly visit nursing homes in the area, where his music and the dancers’ performances awaken memories and bring smiles to the faces of the residents.  Under his guidance, the club has also danced at fairs and field days, demonstrating square dancing and bringing some old fashioned fun to the appreciative audiences. 

For several years the club was invited to demonstrate and teach basic steps at the International Christmas held at Mt. Allison, and more recently the club has developed a close relationship with MASSIE program at Mt. Allison where groups of mainly Japanese university students come for 6 weeks to 3 months to improve their English and experience Canadian culture.  In a fun filled evening which the students rank as a favourite event, Doug (often joined by caller Faye Germon), patiently teaches them several calls, and by the end of the evening has them excitedly twirling around the hall.  The MASSIE program has now grown to three sessions each year, and the co-ordinators book Doug and his dancers each session. 

Doug has a great interest in helping beginning callers, sharing music and encouragement in a kind and supportive manor.  He also participates enthusiastically in dances where two or three callers organize an evening of dancing where they share the calling. 

Doug has always been a great ambassador for the fun and friendship which square dancing brings.  As the club becomes smaller – as seems to be the trend – he remains positive and upbeat.  He and Bonnie recently completed three years as Vice President and then President Couple of the Southeastern Association, where they worked to promote cooperation and closeness among the clubs. 

Over the years, the square dancing community has shown its recognition of Doug at milestone calling anniversaries.  On the 20th and 25th anniversaries of both his calling career and his years with Tantramar Twirlers he has received crtificates of appreciation from his club, the Federation and the Society.  In the fall of 2013 the Tantramar Twirlers celebrated Doug’s thirty years of calling for our club and 34 years calling in total.  At a well-attended dance in late September, Doug was presented with certificates from the Society, The New Brunswick Callers Association as well as the Tantramar Tiwlrers. 

Doug demonstrates his love of family, loyalty to friends, enthusiasm for life, and his strong personal faith in everything he does.  We feel fortunate to have had him as a caller and friend for so many years. 

The Federation of Dance Clubs of New Brunswick, Inc. is very pleased to be able to present them with the award.