The trumpeter of Alert Bay

As a ship threads the straits that separates Vancouver Island from the mainland, returning from a cruise along the Inside Passage, passengers expect mountains, sea, and the occasional fin of an orca. What they don’t expect, at least if this is their first trip to Alaska, is a lone trumpeter playing “O, Canada” and “The Star Spangled Banner”.


Sailing Home
Threading the Strait of Georgia, passengers expect mountain, sea, and wildlife


But that’s what greets them as the ship nears Cormorant Island and the self-appointed “Ambassador-At-Large” motors alongside. Jerry Higginson keeps track of cruise ship schedules. He knows when they’ll pass near his hometown of Alert Bay.


Trumpeter of Alert Bay
As the ship nears Cormorant Island, the Trumpeter of Alert Bay suddenly appears


He has a simple mission, to put smiles on the faces of cruise ship passengers who sail past his Alert Bay home. The Vancouver Island native knows the haunting sound of a trumpet, wafting across the water, takes people by surprise.


Jerry Higginson
Jerry Higginson played his trumpet, then waved farewell and motored away


The day we cruised the Strait, Higginson followed up the two national anthems with a couple of other favorites: “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Amazing Grace”. His simple gesture was one of the highlights of the trip.

On the trumpeter’s simple Web site, where most pages appear to be permanently “coming soon…”, Higginson writes: “Your cheers and the feelings of camaraderie that I get when I am playing my trumpet for you are reward enough for me because that gives me such a feeling of love and happiness.”

Still, a guy’s got to pay the bills. So if the quirkiness and fun of a man on a mission intrigues you, drop by Alert Bay Trumpeter. Buy a CD or DVD or drop five bucks in his Pay Pal account.

It’s a small way of saying “Bravo” to a man who follows the beat of his own drum…er, trumpet, particularly one who spreads so many smiles.


A pod of orcas appeared shortly after we saw the trumpeter

[To see where this happened, go to]

6 thoughts on “The trumpeter of Alert Bay

  1. Hi,
    My name is Genesis…. I was simply looking for some images of my hometown of Alert Bay and to my surprise…. I came across this awesome blog about my dad.
    Thank you so much for sharing. I’m sure it’ll warm his heart when I share this with him.
    Many thnaks and seasons greeting from our family to yours.

    -Genesis Hunt

    1. Genesis, your father gave me an experience I will never forget. His music came and went so suddenly in the course of the cruise. It was an unexpected gift from a generous heart.

      I haven’t thought about it for a while, but thanks to you I’m going to re-post the piece on the blog I’ve started in a quest that’s probably as quixotic as your father’s. This Gives Me Hope is my search for 1001 reasons to be optimistic. Your dad will be #215.

  2. cat ko

    we cruised by alert bay on August 2, 2013 and to our surprise we saw a small boat come speeding towards us. He then stopped and started playing the canadian anthem ,it was wonderful and I just started singing along. I thought .. wow this shows the international crowd onboard how great canadians can be.! The Aussies and English around me thought he would somehow be asking for money. Jerry also played the American anthem, When the saints go marching by and God save the queen. He ended the serenade with a big smile and waved his hand good bye and turned his boat back to shore. On the back of his sign was written PAY IT FORWARD . I tear came to my eye and those around me said Wow! that was different. Jerry thank you for the welcome home and the reminder to go out and do good deeds. Catherine Ko

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