At 88, Hank Mallon does not seem to slow down on his passion for music. He has become a name to be reckoned with in the Alberni Valley as he continues being actively involved in entertaining many people with his melodious voice and guitar.
“I’ve been playing music for many decades here in Port Alberni,” says Mallon. “Actually, I began playing guitar and entertaining when I first came to Canada,” he says.
Mallon, who was born in Huizen, the Netherlands, in 1929, began singing in Grade 4He caught a teacher’s attention when the teacher heard him singing and immediately liked it. “After that, we had to sing at the school every week!”.
Mallon came to Canada in 1948. “That year I joined my sister, a war bride who had married a Canadian soldier after the war. I made the trip from Holland to Quebec and then all the way across Canada to Nanaimo, and soon after to Port Alberni. So, I’ve been here since I was 19 years old!”
In the 1950s, Hank and his brothers formed the “Mallons Trio” to entertain people at various functions. They played at dances, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special celebrations.
In addition to playing guitar, Mallon also learned to play harmonica and piano. Actually, while this interview was taking place, he gave us a demonstration at the piano in the Abbeyfield living room, following his full hour of music to the residents of the home. He regularly plays music at seniors’ homes where his audience enthusiastically endorses him every time he gives his musical talent to them.
“Hank plays at Fir Park, Echo Village, West Haven and Abbeyfield,” says Lorna, his wife for 64 years. “He entertains them by playing many old time songs, from country music to gospel, and his favourite, yodelling,” she adds.
“Lorna is my main support. She’s always with me wherever I play and does the bookings for my performances, and also, she’s my ‘time keeper’,” he says.
Mallons got married here in town in 1953 and are the parents of three children, two boys and a girl. Before his retirement, Hank had worked at the Plywood plant for several years, and Lorna, (born in Chemainus, BC), has lived in the Valley since she was four years old. She worked at Dr. Zens’ office for more than 14 years.
“Before marrying Hank, I worked at the Bank of Montreal”, she comments.
Hank’s enthusiastic approach and love for music continues all year round, especially during the year-end celebrations. “One of my favourite times of the year is Christmas; I love it, and that’s why we are now working on the production of a CD with Christmas music,” he said proudly.
Our community is fortunate to have talented people like Hank Mallon and the active support of his wife Lorna. We must also add that in addition to his solo performances, he, along with his son Mike, is also a member of the “Hank and the Blue Mountain Ramblers” band.