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

Young Nanaimo dancers to appear on NBC program ‘World of Dance’

Jacksun Fryer, 15, and Deeya Sharma, 12, among those competing for $1 million

Vancouver Island’s 10 worst intersections revealed

Saanich, Victoria, Nanaimo, Duncan and Langford junctions make the list

Finalists announced for Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards

Winners will be honoured at an awards gala Friday, Feb. 22 at the Coast Bastion Hotel

Nanaimo Clippers beat league’s best team on trip

Clippers get past the Chilliwack Chiefs 2-1 as BCHL regular season winding down

Coldest Night of the Year walk supports people in Nanaimo experiencing homelessness

Island Crisis Care Society event takes place on Saturday, Feb. 23

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

Island fossil makes it to the top of the provincial list

Courtenay’s elasmosaur will be added to the official Provincial Symbols of British Columbia

B.C. high school robotics team ranked first in the world for programming

The Surrey team was also named tournament finalists at VEX Robotics Competition on Feb. 1

Man shot dead in front of Kamloops hotel may be case of mistaken identity: RCMP

Rex Gill, 44, was not previously known to Kamloops police unlike second shooting victim

Vancouver Island boys high school basketball bragging rights on the line

Oak Bay, Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Victoria host Island championships this weekend

New tutorial ‘Whales in our Waters’ launched by BC Ferries

A new tutorial has been launched for mariners and the general public about whales in the Salish Sea

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Payless to close 248 Canadian stores, saying it’s ‘ill-equipped’ for market

The company will begin closing stores at the end of March

Make sure measles shots up to date, Public Health Agency says

Measles causes high fever, coughing, sneezing and a widespread painful rash

Most Read