On January 21, 1957 the studios of radio station CKNW were used for the inaugural meeting of the Royal City Chapter of SPEBSQSA (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America) now known as the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS).
Rehearsals commenced at the New Westminster Junior High School and shortly after that a move was made to the clubhouse in Moody Park.
Ten years later we outgrew our space and relocated to the Charles Rummel Hall in Burnaby. This required a name change to the Burnaby Chapter and the Lake City Chorus.
In 1978 we presented a contest competition package of two hobo songs and used the name, The Gentlemen of Fortune. The name stuck and brought great fortune ever since.
After a number of other moves, including the Michael J Fox Theatre, the Como Lake United Church in Coquitlam became our home.
The Chapter name changed with some of the moves, reverting to New Westminster, before becoming the Greater Vancouver Chapter in1996 to better reflect our diverse membership.
The chorus has competed in Division and District contests since 1957. We have won the Division 1 title many times, and consistently place among the top five choruses at the District level. Division 1 includes all of British Columbia plus 3 Washington chapters. The Evergreen District includes 5 states and 2 provinces of the Pacific Northwest.
The Gentlemen of Fortune represented the Evergreen District at international competitions in Pittsburgh (1982), Salt Lake City (1996), and Indianapolis (1997), and we were international chorus mic testers in Seattle (1983) and Portland (2002). Out of 800 Chapters in the Society, we are among the top choruses in judging scores.
No doubt the highlight of the GOF history was performing our “Wizard of Oz” package, to a standing ovation, in New York City on May 9, 1990 at the prestigious Carnegie Hall.
The chapter has hosted District Conventions including in Surrey (2001), New Westminster (2006) and Whistler (2009); and many Division and Prelims Conventions in Abbotsford.
Over the years the chapter has been a donor to the Vancouver Oral Centre and Youth in Harmony; and now the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society and Sing Canada Harmony. On January 1, 1997, the chapter itself became a registered charity.
For years, the chorus has put on Christmas and Spring Shows, as well as performed for many other functions, including: conventions, banquets, church concerts, festivals, and other barbershop shows. Valentine’s Day sees as many as 10 quartets do over 100 gigs.
Four of the most memorable functions have been our own dinner cabarets: “A Hobo Cabaret” held in 2000, “A Frank Sinatra” Cabaret in 2003, “A Musical Tribute to the Silver Screen” in 2008, and our latest Cabaret “Behind the Scenes, Behind the Music” in 2012.
We are very proud to have two International Quartet Champions from our chapter: “Realtime” were gold medal winners in 2005 and “Antique Gold” are the 2006 International Seniors Quartet Champions. (June 2014)