The

Early Years

Childhood to 1970

Art was born to Arthur James and Maisie Dorothy Christmas on October 18th 1944 in London England. At an early age, Art showed an immense interest in show business, often following his parents as they traveled to all corners of Great Britain entertaining vast audiences on the vaudeville circuit. His father was Britain's leading sax and multi-instrumentalist during the thirties and forties and his mother was a dancer and choreographer. Art's father was born in Kingston Ontario in Canada and in 1954, Art senior decided it was time to come home. The three moved to Canada in November of that year, and started a new life in a new country.

Art immediately began to develop a passion for music and studied jazz with his father and many of his dad's jazz buddies. By the time he had graduated from high school he was well on his way to becoming one of Canada's most sought after young jazz trumpet players. He performed in Canada, the United States and for a short while, like his dad, he travelled to England where his unique trumpet jazz style (a combination of bee-bop and dixie) made him very popular with the younger jazz audiences in Britain. After being offered a position back in Canada in radio, Art returned home and decided to combine both his music and the radio business. Within a few years, he had also become a multi-instrumentalist like his father, regularly playing jazz on drums, sax, trombone and doing many engagements on piano. Instead of specializing on the alto sax like his dad, he stuck with the trumpet for his main instrument. His life was very busy, working all day at radio station C.K.C.Y. in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario as a production manager and announcer, and nights performing with various jazz groups and bands throughout the Soo and many other cities in Ontario

During these years of development Art was married and started to raise a family. He rose quickly to Manager of Operations of C.J.N.R. and C.K.N.R. radio stations in Blind River and Elliot Lake Ontario and was playing nearly every night of the week. Life was hectic and even frantic at times but with all this, Art felt like there was always something missing in his life. One day he was approached to join Lions International at the local level and dove in with both feet. His love for community service was only outdone by his love for music and in 1967, Art was elected President of his Lions Club. That same year he was also appointed Chairman of the Centennial Committee in his community, which made him responsible for organizing the local celebration of Canada's Centennial. The year 1967 was to be a turning point in his musical career. After cutting back his own performing schedule quite a bit, Art was appointed Musical Director and Conductor of the Elliot Lake School for the Arts and Continuing Education. This appointment not only gave Art the opportunity to develop his conducting techniques but to use music as his instrument in service of the community. Once Art got a taste of this life, he wanted more and with this in mind, he decided to go back to school himself to receive his teaching certificate.

Following his graduation from the College of Education at the University of Toronto, Art became music specialist for the North Shore Board of Education in Northern Ontario, while at the same time, he continued to conduct the Elliot Lake Centre for the Art's concert band, orchestra and chorus. Two years later a position as head of music at Alexander Mackenzie Secondary School in the city of Sarnia opened up and after much soul searching, Art and his family decided to take up new challenges. He accepted the Lambton County Board of Education's invitation to assume this new position and move to Sarnia in southwestern Ontario.