Tim Lander can be seen playing the pennywhistle on Commercial Street

People: Pennywhistle easy on the ears

NANAIMO – Tim Lander is a fixture on Commercial Street in downtown Nanaimo.



If you happen to hear a sweet, flute-like melody when you’re walking on Commercial Street in downtown Nanaimo, it is likely coming from Tim Lander’s pennywhistle.

Originally hailing from Chipstead, near London, U.K., Lander says he became “fed up” with the dreariness of London. He came to Canada 51 years ago and moved to Nanaimo 35 years ago.

The pennywhistle is a traditional street musician’s instrument and derives its name from the fact people would charge a penny a song in the 19th century, said Lander. His path to the pennywhistle began after his brother sold him a little wooden flute for $6 when he was 21. It was something he said he really got into.

He also played the piccolo, but it was very loud and it was making him go deaf. Lander confesses the pennywhistle was originally a substitute instrument.

“The piccolo needed to be re-padded, so I sent it away to be re-padded and it was going to take a couple of months and I bought a pennywhistle, just to tie me over and I really fell in love with [it]. Anything you can do on a piccolo, you can do on a pennywhistle and it’s easier on the ears,” said Lander.

Lander is also a published poet, but he suffered a stroke five years ago and it has affected both his poetry and pennywhistle playing. He says the stroke left him with a slight case of dyslexia.

“I couldn’t do poetry anymore,” said Lander. “I couldn’t think in the same way, so that sort of put an end to that and when I had the stroke, I lost all the tunes I used to play, so I had to make them up as I went along. Now I just improvise and I find that really works well and it’s really rewarding.”

Lander said he spent a month in the hospital recovering and still makes weekly visits for speech therapy.

He said he wants to continue to play his music and is considering picking up the recorder again.

“I used to play the recorder, but it’s different fingering, it’s more complicated fingering,” said Lander. “You can get more notes on the recorder.”

He says he thinks the harbour is his favourite part of Nanaimo.

“I have a little boat down in the harbour and I can row or sail it out,” Lander said.

“I’m not a terribly good sailor, but I enjoy it, especially when it’s warmer. When it’s cold I usually row because you’re getting the exercise and generating warmth,” he said.

Tim Lander’s story continues an ongoing feature series profiling Nanaimo residents and their stories.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Suspect and Mountie bitten by police dog during arrest south of Nanaimo

Two suspects were arrested in connection with a stolen pickup truck in Cassidy on Thursday evening

City to re-name community policing office and keep it open

Council votes 6-2 for city to maintain a presence at Victoria Crescent office

Nanaimo RCMP seek help finding missing Nanaimo boy

Chaas Mearns, 13, was reported missing Jan. 30

Construction set to begin on Nanaimo airport terminal expansion

First phase of construction project to begin in March or April

Duncan family says care home switched mom’s cat with robot cat

Staff alleged to have said they were taking cat for bath, then replaced her with robotic stuffed toy

VIDEO: Buccaneers double up Generals to win Game 2

Nanaimo now leads the best-of-seven series against Oceanside two games to none

Beefs & Bouquets, Feb. 22

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

More snow forecast to fall Friday on Vancouver Island

Environment Canada calling for 2-10 centimetres on the east coast of the Island and areas inland

VIDEO: Buccaneers double up Generals to win Game 2

Nanaimo now leads the best-of-seven series against Oceanside two games to none

Indigenous elders share history with Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District students

‘Our kids learning their history through elders is nothing that we can find in our textbooks’

Bryan Adams opens Canadian tour in Victoria

Tickets go on sale next week for June 5 Save-On-Foods show

Suspected serial killer targeting Toronto gay community now faces six murder charges

Bruce McArthur now charged with murders of six men: Toronto police

Trump suggests more guns in schools to combat shootings

Trump floats two-step plan for gun control: More guns, more control

Second Russian athlete tests positive for doping at Olympics

Russian Bobsled Federation states a drug-test sample that pilot Nadezhda Sergeeva gave on Sunday was positive.

Most Read