A thoroughfare tribute to Bert

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Town names street in honour of iconic Happy Valley-Goose Bay barber

The town council presents “Bert the Barber” (middle) with the street sign named after him. Pictured are, from left, Coun. Tony Chubbs, Coun. Jackie Compton Hobbs, Mayor Jamie Snook, Norbert (Bert) May, Coun. Bert Pomeroy, Coun. Tanya Michelin and Coun. Shannon Tobin.

Norbert May, known more commonly in Happy Valley-Goose Bay as “Bert the Barber,” has been cutting hair for an incredible 47 years.

The Barber, who moved to Happy Valley-Goose Bay from Germany in 1958, has loyal customers. They know that, along with their haircut, they will receive a delightful, and often humorous, conversation.

Bert’s Barber Shop is, indeed, an iconic business in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. So when the town council decided that the barbershop’s street should finally have a name, it was only fitting that it be named after the friendly barber.

At a ceremony held outside Bert’s Barber Shop on April 1, attended by Mayor Jamie Snook and five members of town council, the horseshoe shaped street was officially named Bert’s Loop.

“I present you with this sign in recognition of all your contributions to the community,” announced Snook. “And, obviously, in the spirit of health and safety in the community, it’s also important that this street now has a name.”

Bert raised the issue of working and living on a nameless street last year, after an ambulance couldn’t locate the area.

“There were many phone calls made, including my next door neighbour, (who) called an ambulance and they could never find where it was,” said Bert.

“If I had to call the RCMP, they wouldn’t know where the barber shop was. They would never find it.”

The issue was brought to the attention of Coun. Tony Chubbs, not long after being elected, when he went to Bert’s to get his hair cut. Bert’s co-worker, Henry White, told Chubbs the potential danger of having an unnamed street in town.

“He indicated there was an ambulance that came up here in an emergency call and they couldn’t find the place,” said Chubbs. “They were new to town and how would they know where ‘Bert the Barber’ was?”

“I had no idea it wasn’t named. We checked with the town map, there was no name on the map.

“Where Bert has lived here … since he’s been in Canada, and he’s the original resident on this street, I thought it was very appropriate to name it after Bert.”

For Bert the Barber, having the loop named after him is a huge honour. Throughout the ceremony, he continuously thanked council for their decision.

“I feel like a million dollars. I feel great,” said Bert.

“In my opinion, after so many years here, it was really time to name that road.”

Not only will the new street name assist people in cases of emergency, but it will also help new customers find the barbershop. For years, Bert struggled to direct people where to go over the phone.

Luckily, his shop is located across from a popular store called Skipper Joe’s, which he used as a landmark. But sometimes even that didn’t work with people who were new to town.

“Many times they had to go into Skipper Joe’s over there, and they had to point out where the barber shop is,” said Bert.

“And people who come in from the outside, from the cities, they could never find it…sometimes it took them an hour to find it.”

derek.montague@thelabradorian.ca

 

Organizations: Barber Shop, RCMP

Geographic location: Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Germany Canada

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