Ron Collins has been surrounded by music his whole life, starting with his childhood home where his father played the piano. He joined the school band when he was 10 years old, and bands have been a constant in his life ever since. He graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1987 with his B.Mus./ B.Mus.Ed. with a major in saxophone, and added a M.Ed. in 2007.
Ron’s life as a musician has included concert bands, jazz bands, jazz combos, rock bands, pit orchestras, and dinner theatres playing both saxophone and bass guitar. He has played with the Gower Youth Band and Gower Community Band, Jazz East, Traces Dance Band, The Ducats, Spirit of Newfoundland, and is currently playing bass and saxophone with Fahrenheit. As a music teacher, he has covered Kindergarten to grade 12 in many areas of the province.
Ron has directed several community based groups including Jazz Unlimited, Jazztyme, and Jazz East. He was the Associate Director of the Gower Community Band for over 20 years, and became Director in January 2019 following the retirement of Dr. Edsel Bonnell. He was a music teacher and band director at various schools in the province, most recently at Holy Trinity High School in Torbay. He retired from his teaching career in June 2020, but began teaching at School of Rock in September of 2022.
The founder of the Gower Band Program in 1973 and its Director until his retirement in 2018 is Edsel J. Bonnell, C.M., LL.D., APR, FCPRS(H). Dr. Bonnell was born in St. John’s, NL in 1935, and had a long career in media communications as a journalist, editor, publisher, and public relations consultant. He was the first consultant in Newfoundland and Labrador to earn professional accreditation (APR), and is an Honorary Member of the College of Fellows (FCPRS) and a Life Member of the Canadian Public Relations Society.
An ardent amateur musician and community worker, he was named St. John’s Citizen of the Year for 1984, a Member of the Order of Canada in 2001, a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International in 2002, and received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal the same year.
He was inducted into the Hall of Honour of the Kiwanis Music Festival of St. John’s in 2004, and received the CPRS Lamp of Service and Philip A. Novikoff Award in 2009. In 2011, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland for his service to community as both a bandleader and in public relations.