Brookside’s Founder and Artistic Director John French won the Award For Excellence in Culture for his ongoing promotion and support of culture in Midland.

Reasons for nominating Mr.John Alden French for the “Excellence in Culture Award” for 2015.

I have known John French since his return to his home town of Midland approximately ten years ago.

John French is a polymath with a number of related talents that have helped him in founding Brookside Music Association, the least of which is his mathematical ability and it’s corollary, music.

Following a career in financial services John returned to his hometown of Midland where he immediately and effectively immersed himself in a number of the local cultural organizations, after his return to Midland, becoming Chair of the Huronia Museum. He brought his considerable skills to bear and has put Huronia Museum on a sound financial footing.

Last years “ Ontario Contact “ convention was chaired by John French.

He was directly responsible for organizing and bringing in national  presenters of Cultural Events  all over Canada…here in Midland. A first for Midland and a first for the Midland Cultural Centre.

John’s interest, however, has been music and to that end he organized the Brookside Concert Series which, in time,  transformed into a full concert series at the Midland Cultural Centre, then, due to space and acoustic constraints, other local venues. 

Much of the initial funding for Brookside came from John’s own pocket as he willingly supported international, national and local musicians and cultural events to promote Midland and the area. Now in its fifth year, Brookside has seen such luminaries as Anton Kuerti, The Vienna Choir Boys as well as the Gryphon Trio, Quartetto Gelato and other world class artists.

John French and Brookside have been among the top five grant applications in their category by the Ontario Arts Council as well being a significant presenter of events at the Midland Cultural Centre.

“Critical recognition for excellence both in the Midland area and beyond….and whose activity has made an impact on the Midland community.” 

This quotation is directly from the details on the application for the award….John  Alden French fulfills all of these criteria and more.

Please consider John Alden French as a worthy recipient of the “Excellence in Culture Award“.

Mr. Rene Hackstetter

Friday October 30, 2015

Three years ago, John French sequestered world renowned Canadian Composer John Beckwith to compose a work that would commemorate the inevitable and life-altering collision of two formidable cultures in our history.  The piece would be presented during the 400th anniversary celebrations of the arrival of Samuel de Champlain to the shores of Georgian Bay.  John’s vision was ambitious, courageous and timely and he probably had no idea he would be changing the cultural landscape of our community forever, but that is exactly what happened.  The result was Beckwith’s profoundly sensitive and hopeful musical narration, under the direction of David Fallis with the Toronto Consort, local aboriginal drummers, and the Brookside Festival Chorus, comprised of voices from several choirs in our community.  John put Midland on the National stage, which alone is an accomplishment, but here at home, through music, he brought people and cultures in our community closer together.  Being part of this experience was both exhilarating and humbling and John knows, now that the Brookside Festival Chorus is an official group, we will be ready for his next brilliant vision to make this entire community stronger.


Gillienne Smith


John French, founder of Brookside Music Association, is providing top-notch classical, semi-classical and contemporary performances at reasonable cost to the Midland and area public. His many talents lie, not only in the musical field, but also on manoeuvring in the artistic financial aid sector, successfully obtaining government subsidies and local sponsorships. Writing grant applications is a full-time job in itself!

The music he has brought to the Midland area is world class; many of the musicians who performed here are from across Canada and elsewhere. He has introduced several well-known bands to the Midland Cultural Centre, who have then invited them back for a repeat performance. John identifies with quality music and musicians and seizes opportunities for Midland to enjoy them. He is a strong supporter of Jeunesse Musicale, showing his interest in young people, thus encouraging the next generation to fulfil their dreams. His sensitivity, professionalism, dedication, knowledge and interest in music has greatly contributed to the vibrant cultural scene now existing in Midland and area, and has increased the participation of the local community in cultural events. In addition he is enhancing Midland’s financial situation through his musical endeavours.

John is an accomplished concert pianist in his own right. He regularly performs thus contributing even further to Midland’s cultural life.

John French is a highly deserving individual. We feel it fitting that his many talents, as an artist, and an organizer, be recognized through one of the Culture Midland Awards.

Submitted by Ghisèle Maurice and Dave Watier.