“I like to use my singing to affect people.”
Affecting people is exactly what 98-year-old World War II Veteran, Allen Cameron did on Jan. 27, at a Moose Jaw Warriors home game.
Cameron, who resides in Moose Jaw, received a standing ovation from the crowd, after singing the Canadian national anthem, inspiring both the players and the fans.
“To do that at my age is a thrill of a lifetime. I’m sitting here thinking I hope they ask me again,” says Cameron. “There’s not a lot of guys that are going to be a 100 in a year and a half that get a chance to go out and perform. That’s a thrill royal for an old coot.”
The sound of his voice echoed across the Moose Jaw Events Centre, as Cameron gave it all he had to bring some excitement and emotion to the game.
For some, it might be nerve-racking to get up in front of 2,800 people and sing the national anthem, but Cameron handled it like a pro.
“Oh no, not a bit. In fact, I sang the anthem about 100 times getting ready for it. I couldn’t believe that was my voice, it just rolled out. I’m hoping that one of these days they’ll says let’s do that again old timer.”
That wasn’t the first time Cameron got to show Moose Jaw his singing abilities at a Warriors game, as his Jan. 27 performance was his third kick at the can.
“I was sitting in the Army and Navy Vets and we got talking about singing and they said why don’t you get up and sing, so I did. Then a lady named Gail [Hoffos] said let’s get you in the rink and then I said...Well, I’m available,” adds Cameron.
The biggest thrill for Cameron singing the national anthem was watching how it affected the Moose Jaw Warrior players and fans.
“It doesn’t matter what you’re going to do in life you have to have some encouragement or satisfaction from it. What I was trying to do was impress the players by saying they're important, as this is the first part of their life.”
Cameron even said the players had a little fun with him, following being introduced to them.
“One guy said that guy is as old as God, then another said he’s as old as dirt. I smiled and walked out.”
He puts his heart and soul into singing, especially when it comes to the national anthem, which is an inspiration he got from the Montreal Canadien’s anthem singer Roger Doucet.
“He gets really into and he’s belting it out and then I thought, look at the players, they are ready to go. When I got my chance, I put my heart and soul into it and it made a difference.”
The entire video of his Jan. 27 performance can be seen below: (Courtesy of Gail Hoffos)
The question now remains who is Allen Cameron and how does he have such an impactful voice?
Cameron was born on May 18, 1925, in Saskatoon on the corner of Avenue G and 23rd Street.
He fell in love with the art of singing all the way back in Grade 6, as his music teacher encouraged him to start.
“She said Al has a voice and it should be in front of an audience.”
Since that moment Cameron has been singing at funerals, weddings, dances, and anywhere he can show the world his voice.
He even continued singing after he joined the Canadian Military.
“When I moved here (Moose Jaw), I was in the Air Force band out at the base – we had a good forty-piece band, and I played trumpet. We got invited to Lethbridge for the Military Tattoo for Alberta. They said I want you to sing, so I picked a song.”
Cameron joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1941 and moved to Moose Jaw where he did his basic training. He initially wanted to be a pilot but a colour deficiency kept him from that dream.
Though he couldn’t be a pilot, Cameron then proceeded to enroll to be an Air Frame Mechanic. That role took him overseas on June 24, 1944, to work on planes during World War II. The hope was that he would see his brother who was in England flying for the Air Force, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
“My brother was shot down and killed on June 30, 1944, so I never got to see him.”
Following that unfortunate incident, the Air Force shipped him off to Italy to work with the 417 Spitfire Squadron, which is where he continued to sing.
“I was walking between two Spitfires and I was singing the song I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire, and then I heard a voice saying don’t worry you won’t.”
Cameron retired from the RCAF and stayed in Moose Jaw where he currently resides.
He said he will continue singing as long as he can and added that he is patiently awaiting a phone call from the Moose Jaw Warriors for another chance to perform at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.