Harbour City pays tribute to Ken Gogo

Ken Gogo with the city
Ken Gogo with the city's first-ever Lifetime Cultural Achievement Award on Wednesday at the Port Theatre.
— image credit: Photo Contributed

When Laura Large reflects on her late brother Ken Gogo, she has no shortage of memories.

"My life was pretty much built around him," Large said. "He was Mr. Entertainer and he always made sure everybody had lots of music.

"It's hard to put it in a nutshell," she added.

Large recalled how she used to braid her brother's hair after church when she was younger.

"After mass on Sunday we'd go downstairs and have coffee and he had long hair with a pony tail and I used to comb it out and braid it," she said. "Some of the ladies would say 'Oh Laura you're treating him like a big doll' and he just loved the attention that he had and it was lots of fun."

Yesterday night the City of Nanaimo honoured Ken Gogo's legacy with the first-ever Lifetime Cultural Achievement Award on Wednesday at the Port Theatre.

"I am really pleased about this award," Large said. "He's been gone 11 years and I wish he were here to see it, but it will be there for everybody to see it."

Large said her brother, who was often considered "the king of the campfire," would have been thrilled to receive such an award.

"He would just be over the top. He would be so happy because I wanted to do this for him when he was still alive," she said. "I didn't know he was going to leave us so quick."

From an early age Gogo became involved in the arts. As he got older he became heavily involved in numerous musical, arts, entertainment and cultural events within the city and on the Island. He was also a member of countless organizations and was often Santa Claus during the holiday season.

"He's the oldest of 10 kids and he's always been musical. He's always played the piano, the guitar and the banjo," Large said. "He used to always be Santa Claus at every function."

Gogo's legacy lives on through his seven children, who have all become musicians themselves. The youngest son, Paul, is a member of Canadian rock band Trooper. Large said that Paul has become very much like his late father.

"Mostly his son Paul has followed in his footsteps ... he's very much like his dad."

Although Gogo died more than a decade ago, Large frequently runs into people who have fond memories of her older brother.

"Everyday someone comes up to me and says, 'you're Kenny's sister,' and they say 'I remember when Ken did this and when Ken did that'," she said. "He's been gone 11 years and some people sort of forget about it but every day I am reminded of how much Nanaimo loved him and how hard he worked ... He was a friend to everyone and everyone loved him."

Gogo impacted many people throughout his life but perhaps none more so than those closest to him.

"He was a big influence on his family and he always been my hero, all my life. I miss him terribly," Large said. "There is not a day that goes by that I don't thank God for having such a wonderful brother."

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