UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Photo courtesy of Cody Hughes/FitCode Conditioning

Meet the world's strongest church organist

‘Music’s my real love. Powerlifting is a fun hobby.’

By Alison Brooks-Starks


Music director and organist Colin Bonneau, 70, of St. David’s United in Leduc, Alta., could very well be the world’s strongest church musician. He is a powerlifting legend, having broken hundreds of records. Bonneau spoke with Alison Brooks-Starks.

On beginning powerlifting at age 50: Weightlifting strengthens your bones. It’s never too late to start exercising, that’s for sure. Boy, I couldn’t believe how strong I got in just a few months.

On why he got into lifting: I’ve always been pretty strong, and I wondered how strong I would be if I started seriously working out. One of my choir members, a friend of mine, joined the gym. [I joined too], and that’s what got me going.

On setting records: When I got my first Canadian record, I thought, “Wow, that was pretty cool!” It was wonderful, just a great feeling. I beat a record that had been held for about 14 years. I got my first world record in Luxembourg. They put the Canadian flag up and played O Canada. “It doesn’t get any better than this,” I thought. Now I’ve actually set 90 records. It’s fun to know that, for your age, you’re one of the strongest people in the world.

On the numbers: In my last competition, I bench-pressed 342 pounds. My ultimate goal is to get a 400-pound bench press. It’s better to aim higher than lower. About a year ago, I did 380 or 390 in the squat, and my dead lift was 350.

On reactions: I really quite enjoy telling people I’m a church musician because there just aren’t any musicians, let alone church organists, lifting heavy weights. That’s always kind of fun.

On music: I’ve been a church musician for over 50 years. I pride myself on the fact that I never play a verse the same in church; I always play it differently, decorate it, that sort of thing. I do a lot of jazz and blues in my playing, too. I like improvisation — I have my own arrangements to some of the standard hymns.

On hobbies: I play tuba in a brass quartet right now, and I’m playing keyboard in a dance group. Music’s my real love. The power-lifting is a fun hobby.

On church: I’ve always liked the United Church because it’s so open to things. I always like to say, “God gave us a brain — gotta use it!” You really think that if Jesus was among us, he wouldn’t want to hear what women have to say? That doesn’t make any sense. That’s what I like about the United Church — we use our heads.

On lifting a piano: A few summers ago, I worked moving pianos. One time, I ended up actually pushing the piano up the stairs, bench-pressing it, basically. The other guys were able to just ease it up the stairs. 


This interview has been condensed and edited.



Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Interviews

Courtesy of Pixabay

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Promotional Image

Editorials

Jocelyn Bell%

Observations: It’s a long road toward full equality for women

by Jocelyn Bell

'It’s a wonder that we continue to see male ministers as normative and attach shame to female ministers’ biology and sexuality.'

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Faith

May 2018

Toronto church builds interfaith friendship

by Vivien Fellegi

Faith

May 2018

This parent found no support for her autistic daughter — and decided to change that

by Kieran Delamont

Suzanne Allen talks about raising a daughter on the autism spectrum and bringing all autistic girls together

Faith

May 2018

Church retreat helps first responders with PTSD

by Joe Martelle

Interviews

May 2018

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Ethics

May 2018

Pregnant in the pulpit

by Trisha Elliott

Ministers who take a maternity leave still face discrimination in their own congregations

Interviews

May 2018

The two words Rev. Cheri DiNovo wants to hear from the United Church

by Alex Mlynek

The Toronto minister talks about her disappointment over the church’s silence when she officiated the country’s first legalized same-sex marriage 17 years ago – and why she wants an apology.

Promotional Image