Art was also appointed music director and conductor of the Sarnia Citizens' Concert Band in the late 1970's. This band was the official band for the city of Sarnia and along with a series of summer concerts, performed year-round at city and local functions and special ceremonial celebrations like Canada Day and Rememberance Day. The band grew in size and stature and the quality of the performances improved to a very professional level. In later years the band's name was changed to the Bluewater Symphonic Band so that more communities in Lambton County could have their musicians play with this musical organization. They came from everywhere to perform with this group, even some from Michigan in the United States.
It was 1983, and Art was faced with still another career decision. The Lambton County Board of Education wanted Art to give up his position at Alexander Mackenzie and take on a similar position at a much larger school. This time it took little thought as all of Art's children attended this new school and Art had always wanted to teach his own kids music in a more formal setting other than the home. He accepted and was ready to start in September of 1983. Although Art felt badly leaving the kids he had grown so close to at Alexander Mackenzie he knew this move was the right one.
In the summer of 1983, while coaching a Sarnia boys traveling all-star team, Art noticed a large growth had formed and was soon to find out that he had cancer. Although devastated with this news, he was determined not to let this stop him from commitments he had made with the Sarnia Concert Band, his softball team, The Art Christmas Aggregation and of course St. Clair Secondary School where he was to start teaching in September. He managed to convince his doctor to let him finish these commitments and put the surgery off until August. Once the operation was over a series of very aggressive radiation treatments had to begin but true to his word Art saw his summer commitments through to their completion and was ready for his new music department at St.Clair the day after Labour Day. (On Labour Day, Art conducted the Sarnia Citizens Band at a concert in London Ontario to help the London Western Fair celebrate Sarnia Day).
Sarnia, Ontario - 1970
Soon after arriving in Sarnia, Art began the task of building the new Alexander Mackenzie Secondary School music program. This was a brand new program and there was much to be done. For the next two years, Art worked very hard to make sure the new music department had a viable and exciting program for the students at the school to enjoy, and with much help from the administration, staff, and students, it wasn't long before the program at Alexander Mackenzie was the finest vocational school music program in the province.
In 1972, a local Sarnia Glee Club, The Polysar Glee Club, was looking for a new music and stage director and Art was now ready to extend his musical and theatre experiences into his new community. He took over the helm of the Polysar Glee Club and directed them for their next five productions. Art was now starting to slowly make a name for himself in Sarnia, and Lambton County, and as a man who wanted to reach out into the community and start to assist those less fortunate, he felt that it was time to form his own musical-theatre group with the thoughts of serving the community in two specific ways. He wanted to give needed financial support to charities and other organizations in the community who required assistance and at the same time Art wanted to provide Sarnia-Lambton audiences with top quality musical-theatre entertainment. In September of 1975, he formed The Art Christmas Aggregation....but more about that later.
Purple and White
It seemed for ever but over the next few years, Art finally won his battle with cancer. His new music program at St.Clair grew to be the largest and most involved in the city and his Senior Band from St.Clair traveled each year to various cities and countries around the world and in Canada. St.Clair Secondary School could now boast of having three concert bands, three stage bands, a marching band, four smaller wind ensembles and a vocal program consisting of a sixty voice concert choir and a combination jazz choir and show choir. To Art's delight, and to the delight of the entire St. Clair school community, by 1990 nearly five hundred students were participating in one way or another with the music department at that school. During this same time period, The Art Christmas Aggregation (the musical-theatre organization that Art formed in 1975) was growing by leaps and bounds and was becoming more and more involved in not only entertaining the community but raising money for needy charities and organizations. The dream that Art had for this very special group of dedicated and talented people had not only come true, but had surpassed his fondest expectations.